It’s tax season again – or is it?
The IRS has just announced that due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is pushing forward the tax filing season for 2020 returns until February. The agency wants to make sure there are no issues for taxpayers. So it will begin accepting and processing 2020 tax year returns on February 12. That is a few weeks later than last year’s January open. However, its Free File program is now open for taxpayers.
Why does the IRS need extra time?
The extra weeks will give the IRS more time “to do additional programming and testing of IRS systems after tax law changes that provided a second round of Economic Impact Payments and other benefits,” the agency said. It also noted that this is “critical to ensuring IRS systems run smoothly.”
The agency says it wants to do everything it can to minimize any delays in processing tax refunds. An increasing number of consumers have found themselves cash-strapped due to the economic recession caused by COVID-19. “These changes ensure that eligible people will receive any remaining stimulus money as a Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2020 tax return,” the IRS said.
The agency is encouraging taxpayers to file electronically with direct deposit “as soon as they have the information they need.”
This will speed up the process of issuing refunds.
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What if you want to file sooner?
However, despite pushing back the tax-filing season until February, effective immediately, taxpayers can begin filing their 2020 returns with tax software companies. These include the IRS Free File partners, which have already started to accept tax returns. Those returns will be sent to the IRS starting Feb. 12.
“Given the pandemic, this is one of the nation’s most important filing seasons ever,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said. “This start date will ensure that people get their needed tax refunds quickly while also making sure they receive any remaining stimulus payments they are eligible for as quickly as possible.”
The IRS estimates that more than 150 million tax returns will be filed this year.