Do you dread filing your tax returns? Well, you’re in luck: The IRS has officially pushed back tax season’s start date. Instead of kicking off in late January as in most years, this year’s season will start Feb. 12, around two weeks later.
According to the IRS, the move will afford the agency more time to program and test its systems in light of the stimulus passed in late December.
The IRS stated in its announcement: “This programming work is critical to ensuring IRS systems run smoothly. If filing season were opened without the correct programming in place, then there could be a delay in issuing refunds to taxpayers.”
Ultimately, the pushback of tax season’s start date won’t have a huge impact on most Americans. Here’s the gist of what to keep in mind as you go about filing your 2020 returns.
Submitting early won’t necessarily help you
If you use an online tax service or one of the IRS Free File partners for tax preparation, you can technically submit your returns as soon as you have the information ready. But doing so won’t come with any benefits -- nor a faster refund.
While these tax partners can technically receive returns as early as now, they can’t actually submit those documents to the IRS until the new Feb. 12 start date.
You have less time to file
Though the IRS has pushed back tax season’s start date almost two weeks, it hasn’t done the same for the final tax deadline. As in most years (2020 being the exception), federal tax returns are still due April 15.
Ultimately, that means a shorter tax season and less time to file. You can ease the process by getting started early -- pulling documents; tallying up income, expenses, and gains; and getting those numbers all in order prior to the Feb. 12 start date.
E-filing and direct deposit are a must
If you don’t want your refund delayed, the IRS says filing electronically is critical. Also, select direct deposit and have a valid bank account on file. According to the agency, 90% of taxpayers who file this way will receive their refund within just three weeks of submitting their returns.
Your refund may include your second stimulus check if you haven’t already gotten one
If you haven’t gotten your second stimulus check yet, there’s a chance you’ll get it along with your tax refund as something dubbed a “Recovery Rebate Credit.” Again, having a bank account on file is key if you want quick payment. It will also help ease any delays on future stimulus checks as well.
The bottom line
If you’re worried about how the delayed start date may impact your returns -- or more importantly, your refund -- get in touch with a tax professional as soon as possible. They can provide guidance and advice customized to your unique needs as an investor.