With the beginning of the 2022 tax filing season looming, there is not yet an official date for when taxpayers can begin electronically filing returns. However, the IRS plans to make a formal announcement in the near future, according to an IRS representative.
Typically, tax filing season kicks off at the end of January after the IRS configures its systems to accommodate returns for the previous calendar year, a process that begins in November.
Once the IRS’s computers have been updated to reflect changes made since the last tax season to forms filed by individuals and businesses, taxpayers can complete, submit, and track returns online.
For electronic filing to be ready, the IRS must program its software to accommodate new tax legislation, regs, and other issued guidance.
Depending on how substantial such changes are, as well as the timing of their effective dates, the IRS may need longer to allow taxpayers to begin e-filing returns.
When the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (PL 115-97) was enacted in late 2017, there were concerns that the following filing season would be delayed. However, the IRS began accepting returns on January 28, 2018.
Similar concerns arose with President Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) Act (H.R. 5326).
With significant tax proposals—such as a corporate alternative minimum tax, an increase to the state and local tax deduction cap, and the country-by-country limitation on the foreign tax credit—on the table with the House version, which passed last November, the IRS would have had to scramble to implement each tax provision if the bill became law.
The BBB’s fate is yet to be determined as it was not passed by the Senate before Christmas as Democratic leadership had hoped. Without the support of Senator Joe Manchin, D-WV, Biden’s would-be signature legislation remains in political purgatory.
Although that particular administrative bullet was dodged, the date for when the IRS will begin accepting 2021 returns “hasn’t been announced yet,” Eric Smith of the IRS Media Relations Office told Checkpoint.
“It’s a priority for us, for sure,” Smith said.
Taxpayers can still file paper returns, but traditional filings are subject to longer processing times and are more difficult to track.
A combination of COVID-19-related disruptions and an insufficient number of IRS employees, especially customer support representatives, has contributed to processing delays. Because various individual and corporate filing and payment deadlines have been extended, the IRS has a backlog of returns to sort through.
The IRS plans to announce the e-filing start date in a formal release.
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