Tax professionals are flooded with questions about when individuals can file their tax returns and when they can expect to receive their annual tax refund. The answers depend on several factors, including when you receive the necessary tax documents, and filing early does not guarantee that you will get your refund sooner. Nonetheless, there are a few dates on which you can always fall back. The IRS typically announces deadlines no later than the second week of January for the forthcoming filing season. However, they are subject to adjustments throughout the year. Before you file your 2021 taxes, you should complete all the necessary paperwork to ensure a smooth tax filing process.

Gather Your Income Documents

Your company has time until January 31, 2022, to mail you your W-2 tax form detailing your earnings in 2021. The majority of 1099 tax forms must also be sent to independent contractors by this date.

Assume the tax-filing deadline is approaching, and you still don’t have your W-2. In such a case, you can submit IRS form 4852, a W-2 substitute, but this can be time-consuming. You’ll need to accurately calculate your earnings and withholding amount based on your final pay stub for the year. Therefore, it’s best to seek the advice of a tax professional if you find yourself in this situation.  

Is my Stimulus Payment Counted as Income?

In May 2020, the IRS stated that economic impact repayments provided to Americans under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and subsequent legislation are not subject to income tax. There were two stimulus payments distributed in 2020 and one in 2021.

You are not required to give any of that money back to your state agency. Also, it will not impact your reimbursement if you have one coming to you. In addition, stimulus payments are not counted as income for other purposes, such as eligibility for government assistance or benefits. 

Many state governments, including Massachusetts and New Jersey, have declared that they will not levy any taxes on these stimulus payments. You probably won’t need to report the income you received on your tax return. Still, you must check with your state’s agency or a local tax specialist to be sure.

A third stimulus payment was delivered to eligible recipients on March 12, 2021. So, there will be no taxes on this amount. Nonetheless, those who did not qualify or did not receive the total amount—might be eligible for the Recovery Refund Credit based on their tax situation in 2021. If you qualify for a tax credit and do not owe taxes this year, your credit will result in a tax refund. 

Note: The government made significant changes to the Child Tax Credit in the spring of 2021. It aided many families in receiving advance payments of premium credits. If you are eligible, half of the total credit will be paid in advance. And the other half will be claimed when you register your 2021 income tax return. Also, the IRS has provided helpful hints for dealing with the changes when the filing season returns in 2022. 

When the Tax Filing and Processing Begins

You can begin filing your federal taxes as soon as you have all the necessary paperwork. Typically, the IRS begins accepting and processing tax records during the last week of January. However, in 2021, that date was moved to February 15 to allow the IRS time to account for tax-related changes caused by the global pandemic.

Most tax experts and tax software programs, including those affiliated with the IRS Free File plan, will prepare your tax report immediately if you have all of your income documents in order.

The IRS Recommends Filing Your Federal Taxes Early

According to the IRS, you should file your taxes early to prevent delays in receiving your tax refund. This means you’ll receive your tax reimbursement the fastest way possible!

With an estimated 153 million tax returns to be filed, 80 percent of which will be submitted using online tax software. Therefore, it’s always best to get started as soon as possible to avoid system downtime or painful delays.

The Due Date for Filing Taxes

Typically, tax payments must be filed by April 15. However, according to the drafted IRS 2021 tax year guidelines, you have until April 18, 2022, to file a 2021 tax Form 1040-SR or Form 1040 and pay any tax due this year. 

If you cannot prepare and file your tax return by April 18, you can request a six-month extension from the IRS authority, pushing the filing deadline back to October 17, 2022. 

Generally, the extension’s end date drops on October 15, but in 2022, that date falls on a Saturday. To qualify for the extension, you must file tax form 4868 rather than a tax return by the April deadline.  

Note: If you live in Maine or Massachusetts, you have until April 19, 2022, to file your form 1040 or 1040-SR. It’s because April 15 is Emancipation Day, and April 18 is Patriot’s Day.

When will You Get Your Money Back?

The IRS has historically stated that it administers refunds in approximately 21 days for most returns, but it might take up to five weeks if you mail in a paper return. The organization recommends adding another estimated ten days for the postal delivery process if you want a paper check instead of a direct deposit. 

It may depend on the premium tax credits you claim

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, also called the “PATH Act,” began postponing some refunds in 2017.

Suppose you expect a refund because you claimed the earned income tax credit (EITC) or the refundable portion of the child tax credit. In that case, the IRS is not allowed to issue it before mid-February, regardless of when you submit your return. The PATH Act administers that the IRS needs time to review returns claiming these refunds to prevent fraud.  

You are still liable to this delay even if your repayment is only partially due to the EITC or child tax credit. If you overpaid $1,000 in taxes and are also eligible for a $1,000 EITC refund, the IRS will not send you a single $1,000 rebate and will hold the EITC portion of your reimbursement until February. As a result, your entire payment will be delayed.

Note: You can monitor the status of your refund and obtain a more precise date by reviewing the IRS website.

Additional Tax Planning

Filing and refund deadlines aren’t the only ones taxpayers must be aware of. Certain repayments and reporting requirements are spaced over the calendar year, and failing to meet any of them could result in a headache. Here are a few more deadlines to keep in mind:

  • Sole proprietors and independent contractors who are not subject to deductions by an employer should make estimated quarterly payments on January 15, April 15, June 15, and September 15 of each year. January 15, 2022, installment is crucial because it’s the last payment for the 2021 tax year.
  • Employees who receive more than $20 in tips in December 2021 must register them to their employers on tax form 4070 by January 10, 2022, and each month after that.
  • You have until April 15, 2022, to make 2021 IRA contributions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When is the deadline to file for a tax extension?

You can file an extension for submitting your federal taxes up to the tax due date. Filing for a tax extension is free, and it helps give you until October 17 (in 2022) to file your return. Please remember that this only applies when your tax returns are due. If you owe taxes, you need to pay them by the federal tax filing deadline (typically April 15). 

When is the last day to file your taxes?

The deadline to file your taxes is April 15 or the following business day if it falls on a weekend. This means that you must register your taxes electronically (or have your tax preparer do so) or mail them by the due date. If you apply for an extension in 2022, you have time until October 17 to do so. 

Can I file my taxes now? 

Yes, you can start filing your taxes right now! The IRS’s tax filing season will begin in mid-January. But there is no need to wait until then to file your taxes.

The online tax filing system allows you to be among the first to receive your tax refund. They will securely hold your tax records and submit them to the IRS office when they accept tax returns. 

Get Help

The first day to file tax returns varies from year to year, but it always falls in January. Do you still have questions? Make an appointment with your local tax professional or check out Insurance Shopping for more information.