The IRS issues yearly statements at the start of January that let you know the first day you can file taxes. This date usually falls between mid to late January, however for 2021 the IRS began processing tax returns on February 12. The deadline for filing your federal income tax return in 2021 was extended from April 15 to May 17 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Can I get an extension on the deadline to file my tax returns?
You can request to receive an automatic extension of six months to file your tax return. Do this by filing Form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File US Individual Income Tax Return), by the due date (April 15). However, this will not be an extension on time to pay any taxes you owe, and any tax liabilities will have to be paid in full by April 15 in order to avoid penalties or interest.
These extensions only apply to your federal income tax return deadlines, and not your state tax deadlines.
The IRS also makes exceptions for taxpayers serving in the Armed Forces, combat zones, contingency operations, or have become hospitalised while serving.
How can I file my tax returns?
The IRS accepts tax returns filed either by the mail, or electronically through e-file. E-file is the quickest method and should mean that you will receive your tax refund faster.
Can I receive help with preparing and filing my tax returns?
You are able to choose between several options for preparing and filing your tax return:
Free file: the IRS provides free tax preparation software that can help you to figure out any deductions or credits you are eligible for. But, your AGI (adjusted gross income) must be under a certain threshold.
IRS online forms: the IRS provides electronic versions of the paper forms that will do the math for you. However, this option does not provide the same guidance in figuring out which deductions or credits you may be eligible for. But, your AGI must be over a certain threshold.
Tax preparer: you may need one-to-one guidance from a tax professional. You should be mindful about who you are disclosing your sensitive information to. If you are unsure on who to go to, the IRS provides a directory of verified tax preparers.
Help me get my child tax credit refund
How long does it take to prepare a US federal income tax return?
Completing your tax return shouldn’t take longer than a few hours if you consider the following advice:
- Maintain your files, documents and records.
- Keep track of all sources of your income.
- Using a tax software or a professional tax preparer would speed up the process.
How to make sure you receive your tax refund as soon as possible:
Every taxpayer’s situation is unique; however, you could consider one of the follow pieces of advice to speed up the process:
- Consider e-filing instead of traditional paper filing.
- Ensure your tax return is completed without any errors or miscalculations. Carefully review your return before filing.
Why is my tax refund delayed?
There are numerous reasons as to why your tax refund could be delayed, including:
- When filing a paper return, your refund should take about six weeks.
- The IRS is mailing you a physical check.
- If you owe debt, your refund may have been used to offset this. For example, unpaid child support.
- You may have been the victim of identity theft and another return was filed using your social security number.
- If you have filed Form 8379 (Injured Spouse Allocation), processing your tax return could take up to 14 weeks.
When will I receive my tax refund?
The date that you will receive your tax refund changes year by year. Generally, the IRS issues 90% of refunds within 21 days from receiving the return. The IRS website provides a ‘Where’s My Refund’ page where you can check the status of your refund with live updates.