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IRS 2021 Tax Filing Season Starts Late

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The IRS has announced that the tax filing season for 2020 returns will kick off on February 12 (IR-2021, 1/15/21), about two weeks later than usual. In fact, this “kick-off” even comes five days after the Super Bowl!

Jan 19th 2021
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The February 12 tax filing start date for individual tax returns was needed to give the IRS time for additional programming and testing of its systems following enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) on December 27. Among other changes, the CAA authorized a second round of Economic Impact Payments (EIPs). 

The programming work is critical to ensuring that IRS systems run smoothly. If filing season were opened without the correct programming in place, refunds would be delayed. These changes ensure that eligible people will receive any remaining EIP money as a Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2020 tax returns.

To speed up refunds during the pandemic, the IRS urges taxpayers to file electronically with direct deposit as soon as they have the information they need. People can begin filing their tax returns immediately with tax software companies, including IRS Free File partners.

These groups are starting to accept tax returns now and the returns will be transmitted to the IRS starting February 12.
"Planning for the nation's filing season process is a massive undertaking, and IRS teams have been working non-stop to prepare for this as well as delivering Economic Impact Payments in record time," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig in a press release. "Given the pandemic, this is one of the nation's most important filing seasons ever. This start date will ensure that people get their needed tax refunds quickly while also making sure they receive any remaining stimulus payments they are eligible for as quickly as possible."

Traditionally, the IRS approves a start date in late January for each upcoming tax season. The kick-off date, however, has occasionally slipped into early February to accommodate late-breaking tax legislation. It is believed that this year is one of the latest start dates ever for returns due by the April 15 deadline, which was adopted decades ago. (Note: The April 15th due date may be delayed a day or two if it falls on a weekend or Emancipation Day). 

This may result in more scrambling for taxpayers and tax return preparers alike as the window for filing returns is compressed. As a result, it’s even more important to encourage clients to assemble all their vital tax information in a timely fashion. 

Finally, the IRS also revealed that the average tax refund last year exceeded $2,500. It expects more than 150 million tax returns to be filed this year with the vast majority coming before the April 15 deadline.

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