It’s official: The Internal Revenue Service says it will start accepting 2021 tax year returns on January 24, kicking off tax season.
The somewhat late start for individual tax filers allows the agency the extra time needed to get their computer systems programmed and tested. The IRS says extra programming is needed to cover those taxpayers who can claim the Child Tax Credit or the Recovery Rebate Credit after receiving advance portions of the credit earlier in the year.
“Planning for the nation’s filing season process is a massive undertaking, and IRS teams have been working non-stop these past several months to prepare,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.
“The pandemic continues to create challenges, but the IRS reminds people there are important steps they can take to help ensure their tax return and refund don’t face processing delays. Filing electronically with direct deposit and avoiding a paper tax return is more important than ever this year. And we urge extra attention to those who received an Economic Impact Payment or an advance Child Tax Credit last year. People should make sure they report the correct amount on their tax return to avoid delays.”
In order to get their returns to the IRS by the April 18 tax deadline, Rettig and other federal tax officials are encouraging taxpayers to have their tax documents needed for filing in hand so they can file a complete and accurate return.
Just having an accurate return, the IRS stresses, can help avoid processing and refunding delays—as well as later IRS notices.
An accurate return is especially valuable to taxpayers who got advance payments of the Child Tax Credit or Economic Impact Payments from the American Rescue Plan in 2021. These recipients will need the amounts of their payments to include on their tax returns to verify their remaining credit amounts.
Some filers may not be required to file, yet need to file a return for 2021 in order to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit and get the tax credit from the 2021 stimulus payments or reconcile advance payments of the Child Tax Credit. They could also be eligible for other credits.
The filing deadline is April 18
This year’s deadline for filing and paying any tax due is Monday, April 18. Traditionally the deadline is April 14, but this year the Washington, D.C. holiday for Emancipation Day has bumped the IRS deadline day to the 18th.
Taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts, however, have April 19 as their deadline, since their Patriots’ Day holiday interfered.
No matter where they live, though, taxpayers who request an extension this tax season have a final filing deadline of Monday, Oct. 17, 2022.
IRS is still processing returns from 2021
Commissioner Rettig says his agency is still fighting the battles of the pandemic, with short staff affecting processing of last year’s tax returns and fielding a record number of phone calls.
“In many areas, we are unable to deliver the amount of service and enforcement that our taxpayers and tax system deserves and needs. This is frustrating for taxpayers, for IRS employees and for me,” Rettig said.
“IRS employees want to do more, and we will continue in 2022 to do everything possible with the resources available to us. And we will continue to look for ways to improve. We want to deliver as much as possible while also protecting the health and safety of our employees and taxpayers. Additional resources are essential to helping our employees do more in 2022 – and beyond.”
The IRS says it’s hard at work to reduce the backlog of prior-year individual that haven’t been completely processed. It does say that all paper and electronic individual 2020 returns without issues have been processed if the return was submitted before the April deadline. There is some good news, in that taxpayers generally won’t need their 2020 return to be processed before they send in their 2021 returns. They can file when ready.
The men and women of the IRS won’t have much time to catch their breath, however. This tax season, some 160 million individual tax returns are expected for the 2021 tax year, and most of those are expected before the traditional April deadline.
Even with an increase in volume, the IRS expects most taxpayers will receive their refund within 21 days of when they file, provided they file electronically, choose direct deposit and there are no issues with their tax return.
Here are some dates to remember
Here are several important dates taxpayers need to heed during this year’s tax season:
- January 14: IRS Free File opens. Taxpayers can begin filing returns through IRS Free File partners; tax returns will be transmitted to the IRS starting January 24. Tax software companies also are accepting tax filings in advance.
- January 18: Due date for tax year 2021 fourth quarter estimated tax payment.
- January 24: IRS begins 2022 tax season. Individual 2021 tax returns begin being accepted and processing begins
- January 28: Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day to raise awareness of valuable tax credits available to many people – including the option to use prior-year income to qualify.
- April 18: Due date to file 2021 tax return or request extension and pay tax owed due to Emancipation Day holiday in Washington, D.C., even for those who live outside the area.
- April 19: Due date to file 2021 tax return or request extension and pay tax owed for those who live in MA or ME due to Patriots’ Day holiday
- October 17: Due date to file for those requesting an extension on their 2021 tax returns
Finally, here are some easy steps that can really ease stress levels this tax season:
Organize and gather up 2021 tax records, including Social Security numbers, Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs), Adoption Taxpayer Identification Numbers, and this year’s Identity Protection Personal Identification Numbers, valid for 2022.
Check IRS.gov for the latest tax information – including the latest on reconciling advance payments of the Child Tax Credit or claiming a Recovery Rebate Credit for missing stimulus payments. Remember: There’s no need to call the IRS.
Set up or log in at IRS.gov/account and access personal tax account information, including the balance, payments, tax records and adjusted gross income.
Make final estimated tax payments for the 2021 tax year by Tuesday, January 18, in order to avoid a tax bill and possible penalties.
Set up a bank account, prepaid debit card or mobile app to use direct deposit. Use their routing and account numbers on the tax return to set up the transfer.
File a complete and accurate return electronically once filing begins and choose direct deposit for the fastest refund.
– Story provided by TaxingSubjects.com
Their lifeline comes in the form of a quarterly estimated tax payment, as long as it’s made for the fourth quarter of 2021 and gets to the IRS by Tuesday, January 18.
The IRS sees income taxes as a pay-as-you-go proposition, meaning Americans need to pay most of their tax as their income comes in.
Most taxpayers pay their tax in the form of withholding from their paychecks, pension payments and other government payments—including Social Security benefits, or unemployment compensation.
Investors and self-employed taxpayers, however, make quarterly estimated tax payments to the IRS over the course of the year. Other taxpayers also find this method works for them.
Some taxpayers actually use a combination of the two methods to help avoid a big unexpected tax bill when they file, avoiding a penalty at the same time.
Don’t wait to pay
What’s important isn’t just how much is paid to the IRS, but when. If a taxpayer failed to make estimated tax payments earlier in the year, they stand to decrease—and maybe even eliminate—a possible penalty by making a payment early in the year. That’s because the penalty calculation considers the date the payment was made.
Making a payment now, rather than waiting until the April filing deadline, often helps avoid those penalties.
When should taxpayers make estimated payments?
If a taxpayer owed tax when they filed their 2020 return and didn’t increase withholding for 2021, they could find themselves in the same mess come April.
Those who may fall into this trap include taxpayers who used to itemize but now take the standard deduction, those in two-wage-earner households, employees with non-wage income, and taxpayers with complex tax situations.
What’s more, taxpayers who got advance payments of the Child Tax Credit but don’t actually qualify for it could also have a tax-time surprise waiting for them. Making a quarterly estimated tax payment for the fourth quarter of 2021 could be a way out.
What else should taxpayers consider?
The IRS says there are some important points to consider when it comes to income and paying enough in taxes:
- Most income is taxable. Besides wages, interest and other investment income, which also includes income related to virtual currencies, refund interest and income from the gig economy are taxable.
- Unemployment compensation is fully taxable in 2021. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 allowed an exclusion of unemployment compensation of up to $10,200 for 2020 only. Often, this means that an estimated tax payment should be made, especially if no federal income tax was withheld from these payments.
- Various financial transactions, especially late in the year, can often have an unexpected tax impact. Examples include year-end and holiday bonuses, stock dividends, capital gain distributions from mutual funds, and stocks, bonds, virtual currency, real estate or other property sold at a profit.
Still unsure whether estimated tax payments are needed? The IRS website has a Tax Withholding Estimator that can help taxpayers decide if they need to make an estimated tax payment.
Another resource can be the estimated tax Form 1040-ES, which has a worksheet packaged with the form.
Taxpayers with a more complex income picture, such as dividend or capital gain income, or who owe alternative minimum tax or self-employment tax should consult Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax, for its worksheets, examples and other details.
How do taxpayers make a payment?
The IRS says its Direct Pay tool is the fastest and easiest method to make an electronic estimated tax payment. Taxpayers can use the tool to schedule a payment in advance of the January deadline.
Taxpayers can also use their IRS Online Account to make an estimated tax payment. Once logged in, users can also see their payment history as well as any pending or recent payments.
These methods are free to use—the IRS doesn’t charge a fee for the service. One other benefit for paying electronically: the payments are credited promptly once they’re made.
For more information on all the payment options available, visit IRS.gov/payments on the IRS website.
– Story provided by TaxingSubjects.com
No doubt about it: The future for the IRS is electronic.
The agency is putting more and more formerly paper-only functions on its electronic platform, speeding up transmission and improving service as a result.
Form 1024, Application for Recognition of Exemption under Section 501(a) or Section 521 of the Internal Revenue Code, is the latest function to transition into the electronic world.
Previously, the only way non-profit organizations could use Form 1024 to apply for tax-exempt status was by submitting the paper form.
That is now changing.
As of January 3, submissions of Form 1024 must now be done online at PAY.gov.
However, the IRS is also offering a 90-day grace period that also allows paper submissions of Form 1024 (Rev. 01-2018) and letter applications. But once that passes, filing will be electronic-only.
“Electronic filing makes it easier to complete an application for tax-exempt status while reducing errors,” said Sunita Lough, Commissioner of the IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities division. “Electronic filing also shortens IRS processing time so applicants won’t wait as long for a response.”
The electronic revised Form 1024 can also be used by organizations to request a determination under Section 521 instead of using Form 1028, Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 521 of the Internal Revenue Code.
The IRS says there are other changes, depending on which sections of code are used to claim exemption.
Electronic transmission of Form 1024, however, doesn’t mean that submitting the form is any cheaper. The required user fee is still $600 for 2022, payable through PAY.gov when the form is submitted.
The site accepts payments directly from a bank account as well as debit and credit cards.
For more information on how to apply for tax-exempt status, check out Revenue Procedure 2022-8 and Applying for Tax-Exempt Status on IRS.gov.
– Story provided by TaxingSubjects.com
Victims of the New Year wildfires in Colorado now have one less thing to worry about. The Internal Revenue Service has given individual and business taxpayers affected by the disaster until May 16 to file and pay an array of federal taxes.
The fires started December 30, wiping out hundreds of homes in Boulder County. At present, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has declared all of Boulder County a federal disaster area, allowing any residents and businesses within the county to qualify for the IRS relief measures.
If FEMA expands the disaster declaration to cover more counties or locations, those new areas would automatically be included in the IRS relief provisions. A current list of eligible locations can be found on the disaster relief page of the IRS website.
More time to file and pay
The IRS relief delays various tax deadlines for filing and payment that would otherwise have occurred between December 30 and May 16. Individual taxpayers and businesses within the disaster area now have until May 16 to file their returns and pay any taxes that would have been due during the postponement period.
The new May 16 deadline applies to:
- 2021 individual income tax returns that would have been due otherwise on April 18;
- 2021 business returns that would have been due in March and April;
- Quarterly estimated income tax payments otherwise due on January 31 and May 2 (taxpayers can skip the fourth-quarter estimated tax payment normally due on January 18, and simply include it with the 2021 return when they file—or send it in to the IRS before May 16).
For a complete list of the tax returns, payments and other tax-related items that qualify for the IRS relief, see the Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief for Individuals and Businesses page on IRS.gov.
Relief measures are automatic
The extended deadlines and other relief measures are applied automatically to those taxpayers inside the federally declared disaster area. Taxpayers do not need to contact the IRS to qualify for the relief.
That said, if a taxpayer within the disaster area gets a notice of late filing or late payment from the IRS with a due date within the December 30-May 16 time frame, the taxpayer should call the number printed on the notice to have the penalty abated.
Taxpayers with uninsured or unreimbursed losses due to the fires can choose to make the claim either on the return for the year the loss occurred, or on the return for the previous year. The IRS reminds filers to write the FEMA declaration number 4634DR on returns that claim such a loss.
Publication 547 has details on claiming disaster-related losses.
– Story provided by TaxingSubjects.com