IRS tax season 2021 officially kicks off Feb. 12.

Here’s why it starts so late



The IRS will begin accepting and processing 2020 tax returns on Feb. 12, the agency said Friday. Typically, the IRS begins accepting returns in late January.

Why so late this year? 

The agency said it is taking the time to do additional programming and testing of its systems to ensure that there won’t be a delay in issuing refunds following tax law changes from the stimulus package that was passed in December. The law had included a second round of stimulus checks, or Economic Impact Payments, and other benefits.

“This programming work is critical to ensuring IRS systems run smoothly,” the agency said in a statement. “If filing season were opened without the correct programming in place, then there could be a delay in issuing refunds to taxpayers.”

The changes aim to ensure that eligible people will receive any remaining stimulus money as a Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2020 returns, the agency said. 

To speed up refunds during the pandemic, the IRS urges taxpayers to file electronically with direct deposit. Free File Alliance, an IRS program that partners with private companies to provide free tax preparation to millions of filers, is now available to those whose adjusted gross income was $72,000 or less in 2020.

Taxpayers may start filing their returns with tax software companies, including IRS Free File partners, the agency said. Those groups are starting to accept tax returns and they will be transmitted to the IRS starting Feb. 12, the agency added.

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