When does tax season start in 2021?

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Tax season can’t come soon enough for the millions of Americans who need their money back to pay for essential expenses, and those still waiting to receive a stimulus check. But for the moment, we will have to wait.

The IRS has announced that the start of the 2021 tax season (when you file taxes for the money you earned last year) will be on February 12 of this year – two weeks later than usual. Last year, for example, tax season began on January 27.

In December, 10.7 million Americans were unemployed. Many rely on their tax refund to make ends meet. And top earners who lost their jobs last year are waiting for a stimulus payment because they would not have qualified on the basis of the previous criteria. They will have to file their 2020 taxes to get the stimulus money owed to them through the “recovery refund credit.”

The IRS said the delayed start date allows the agency to conduct additional testing to ensure systems are ready to handle changes to the tax filing process as a result of the stimulus payments.

The two stimulus payments – the one sent last spring and the one issued right now – were determined by your income as shown on your last tax return. It should be 2019 for the current stimulus, but it could have been 2018 for the checks that started issuing last April. Depending on how the refund works, anyone newly eligible for stimulus funds based on their 2020 income would receive the payments through their 2020 tax return rather than direct deposit or mail. (The government will not take anything back if you have already received money and are no longer eligible, for example if you have just landed a high paying job.)

In addition to losing your job in 2020, there are other scenarios in which you may be eligible for a stimulus through the tax process. The first stimulus was up to $ 1,200 per qualifying adult and $ 500 per child, while the second is $ 600 per qualifying adult and child. The government may owe you money if you:

  • had a child in 2020
  • Were a dependent in 2019 but filed your own taxes in 2020
  • Earned too much income in 2018 and 2019 but earned less than the $ 75,000 threshold in 2020 to qualify for both payments (or less than the $ 87,000 threshold to qualify for the second)
  • Living with someone who doesn’t have a social security number (a change in law in December made these newly eligible beneficiaries)
  • You owe a check but the IRS did not mail it or direct deposit by Friday, January 15 (you can check the status using the Get My Payment tool).

The IRS has already updated its forms and instructions to reflect any changes related to stimulus payments, and the new Form 1040 is available on IRS.com, according to a recent statement.

That doesn’t mean you have to wait until February 12 to file your taxes. The start of the tax season is simply the date the IRS begins accepting returns. Tax preparers through IRS Free File have started accepting tax returns, but will keep them until they can electronically file the forms with the IRS on February 12. Turbo Tax also sent an email to customers with a message that reads: Now e-file with TurboTax.

But it typically takes seven to ten days to get your refund after your tax return has been accepted by the IRS, according to Cari Weston, director of tax practice and ethics at the AICPA. With this February 12 date announced, the first taxpayers can expect to get their refund is probably February 19. tax forms had been mailed to you before, of course). The IRS did not immediately respond to a call for comment.

In the meantime, you can put your forms in order. This means your W-2 if you are employed and your 1099 if you are self-employed. By law, both are due to taxpayers by January 31, but this year that date falls on a Sunday. Be careful, therefore, that these forms arrive by post by Monday, February 1.

Also keep in mind that if you’ve collected unemployment checks, that’s taxable income. And if you spent part of the year outside your primary state due to the pandemic, you may owe taxes there as well (rules vary by state). Weston suggests going to IRS.gov and clicking “Get Your Tax File” to find out what the IRS has on your records. You can access any missing tax records – maybe the forms were delivered late or went to the wrong address – or ones you might not have considered, like a 1099 for a job at part-time that you forgot. Whatever the case, the tool will help ensure that your records match what was reported to the IRS and prevent any income from falling through the cracks.

This story was originally published on January 14, 2021, before the IRS issued a statement announcing the official start date for the 2021 tax season.

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