Tax Season Opens with April 17 Deadline; 155 Million Tax Returns Projected, 70 Percent Expect Refunds
Marking the beginning of the nation’s tax season, the Internal Revenue Service said that it successfully started accepting and processing 2017 federal individual income tax returns on Wednesday, Jan. 29. More than 155 million returns are expected to be filed this year.
People have until Tuesday, April 17, 2018, to file their 2017 returns and pay any taxes due. The filing tax deadline is later this year due to several factors. The usual April 15 deadline falls on Sunday this year, which would normally give taxpayers until at least the following Monday. However, Emancipation Day, a Washington, D.C., holiday, is observed on Monday, April 16, giving taxpayers nationwide an additional day to file. By law, Washington holidays impact tax deadlines for everyone in the same way federal holidays do. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, to file.
The IRS expects more than 70 percent of taxpayers to get tax refunds this year. Last year, nearly 112 million refunds were issued, with an average refund of $2,895.
“The IRS has a number of ways to help taxpayers this filing season, and we encourage people to look into the many options available,” said Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter. “The nation’s tax professionals and software community work with the IRS and help make the tax filing process easier for Americans. Today’s filing season kick-off reflects many months of hard work by the nation’s tax community and IRS employees. And we also appreciate the time and attention taxpayers take as they prepare and file their taxes."
Use e-File and Free File
The IRS expects about 90 percent of returns to be filed electronically. Choosing efile and direct deposit remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund.
The IRS Free File program, available at IRS.gov, gives eligible taxpayers a dozen options for brand-name products. Free File is a partnership with commercial partners offering free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $66,000 or less. About 70 percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. People who earned more than $66,000 may use Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms.
Refunds in 2018: More than 90 Percent in Less than 21 days; EITC/ACTC Refunds Starting Feb. 27
The IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. However, it’s possible a tax return may require additional review and take longer. “Where’s My Refund?” has the most up to date information available about refunds. The tool is updated no more than once a day, so taxpayers don’t need to check more often.
The IRS also notes that refunds cannot be issued before mid-February for tax returns that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. This applies to the entire refund - even the portion not associated with the EITC and ACTC. While the IRS will process the EITC and ACTC returns when received, these refunds cannot be issued before mid-February. The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting on Feb. 27, 2018, if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return.
“Where's My Refund?” on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go mobile app remain the best way to check the status of a refund. “Where’s My Refund?” will be updated with projected deposit dates for most early EITC and ACTC refund filers Feb. 17, so those filers will not see a refund date on “Where's My Refund?” or through their software packages until then. The IRS, tax preparers and tax software will not have additional information on refund dates, so these filers should not contact or call about refunds before the end of February.
This law change gives the IRS more time to detect and prevent fraud. Even with the EITC and ACTC refunds and the additional security safeguards, the IRS still expects to issue more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. However, it’s possible a particular tax return may require additional review and take longer. Taxpayers are reminded that state tax agencies have their own refund processing timeframes that vary, and some states may make additional reviews to ensure their refunds are being issued properly. Even so, taxpayers and tax return preparers should file when they’re ready. For those who usually file early in the year and are ready to file a complete and accurate return, there is no need to wait to file.
Free Tax Help
Low- and moderate-income taxpayers can get help filing their tax return for free. More than 90,000 volunteers around the country can help people correctly complete their return.
To get this help, taxpayers can visit one of the more than 12,000 community-based tax help sites that participate in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs. To find the nearest site, use the VITA/TCE Site Locator on IRS.gov or the IRS2Go mobile app.
No matter who prepares a federal tax return, by signing the return, the taxpayer becomes legally responsible for the accuracy of all information included. IRS.gov offers a number of tips about selecting a preparer and information about national tax professional groups.
The IRS urges all taxpayers to make sure they have all their year-end statements in hand before filing. This includes Forms W-2 from employers and Forms 1099 from banks and other payers. Doing so will help avoid refund delays and the need to file an amended return.
The IRS reminds taxpayers they have a variety of options to get help filing and preparing their tax return on IRS.gov, the official IRS website. Taxpayers can find answers to their tax questions and resolve tax issues online. The Let Us Help You page helps answer most tax questions, and the IRS Services Guide links to these and other IRS services.
Taxpayers can go to IRS.gov/account to securely access information about their federal tax account. They can view the amount they owe, pay online or set up an online payment agreement; access their tax records online; review the past 18 months of payment history; and view key tax return information for the current year as filed. Visit IRS.gov/secureaccess to review the required identity authentication process.
The IRS urges taxpayers to take advantage of the many tools and other resources available on IRS.gov. IRS phone lines will be busy again this year, so to save time, people should first visit the IRS website for tax assistance.
The IRS continues to work with state tax authorities and the tax industry to address tax-related identity theft and refund fraud. As part of the Security Summit effort, stronger protections for taxpayers and the nation’s tax system are in effect for the 2018 tax filing season.
The new measures attack tax-related identity theft from multiple sides. Many changes will be invisible to taxpayers but will help the IRS, states and the tax industry provide new protections. New security requirements will better protect tax software accounts and personal information.
Renew ITIN to Avoid Refund Delays
Many Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) expired on Dec. 31, 2017. This includes any ITIN not used on a tax return at least once in the past three years. Also, any ITIN with middle digits of 70, 71, 72 or 80 (Example: 9NN-70-NNNN or 9NN-80-NNNN) is now expired. ITINs that have middle digits 78 or 79 expired Dec. 31, 2016, but taxpayers can still renew them. Affected taxpayers should act soon to avoid refund delays and possible loss of eligibility for some key tax benefits until the ITIN is renewed. An ITIN is used by anyone who has tax-filing or payment obligations under U.S. tax law but is not eligible for a Social Security number.
It can take up to 11 weeks to process a complete and accurate ITIN renewal application. For that reason, the IRS urges anyone with an expired ITIN needing to file a tax return this tax season to submit their ITIN renewal application soon.
Sign and Validate Electronically Filed Tax Returns
All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Some taxpayers using a tax filing software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount from their prior-year tax return to verify their identity.
Taxpayers using the same tax software they used last year will not need to enter their prior year information to electronically sign their 2017 tax return. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.