The IRS has announced that it will begin accepting and processing 2021 tax returns on January 24, 2022, and that it has updated its programming to accommodate recipients of advance child tax credit (CTC) payments and those still eligible to receive amounts from economic impact payments in the form of a “recovery rebate credit.”
IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig encouraged taxpayers to file their individual tax returns electronically with the direct deposit option instead of submitting a paper return, which are subject to longer processing times, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic continues to create challenges,” Rettig said, “but the IRS reminds people there are important steps they can take to help ensure their tax return and refund don’t face processing delays.”
Though returns cannot be filed until January 24, taxpayers can use IRS Free File to complete returns beginning January 14 and file as soon as e-filing starts. IRS Free File, which provides commercial tax filing software, is available to taxpayers who made $73,000 or less in 2021.
The IRS also offers free basic tax return services to qualified individuals through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs.
The January 24 start date was chosen to give the IRS enough time to update and test its systems to reflect changes new for 2022. For more on this internal process, see E-filing start date for 2022 tax season to be announced soon, IRS says.
Taxpayers can still file previous-year returns and do not need to wait for their 2020 return to be processed before filing their 2021 return.
Though the IRS has processed refunds for 2020 returns submitted before April 2021, it has a large backlog of returns to still sort through, due largely in part to disaster-related extensions, insufficient funding, and customer support lines flooded with taxpayer questions.
“Our phone volumes continue to remain at record-setting levels,” Rettig said. “We urge people to check IRS.gov and establish an online account to help them access information more quickly.”
Rettig also said that the IRS has invested in “developing new online capabilities” to reduce wait times. For more on the IRS’s ongoing administrative challenges, see IRSAC stresses IRS funding, modernization in 2021 general report.
To help taxpayers who received advance CTC payments, the IRS is sending Letter 6419, 2021 advance CTC, which shows how much a taxpayer was paid in CTC advance installments last year, as well as the number of qualifying children on file. For more details, see IRS to mail information letters to advance child tax credit recipients.
Current law prohibits the IRS from issuing refunds that involve the earned income tax credit or the additional CTC until mid-February so that those returns can undergo anti-fraud review. Credit-eligible persons may still file beginning January 24.
Those who received a stimulus payment in 2021 will receive Letter 6475, Your Third Economic Impact Payment, which will be used in determining if such taxpayers are still owed stimulus amounts. If there are missing payments, a recovery rebate credit can be claimed in a 2021 tax return.
Filers should take the following steps to prevent delays and expedite refunds:
- Make estimated payments by January 18, 2022
- Access personal tax account information at IRS.gov/account
- Choose how to receive a direct deposit (bank account, prepared debit card, or through the mobile app)
2021 tax returns are due April 18, 2022, unless an individual is granted an extension through October 17, 2022.
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