IRS Sets the 2022 Tax Filing Season

January 10, 2022

The Internal Revenue Service has designated January 24th as the start to this year’s tax filing season and April 18th as the filing deadline for 2021 tax returns.

“The January 24 start date for individual tax return filers allows the IRS time to perform programming and testing that is critical to ensuring IRS systems run smoothly,” the agency stated in a January 10th news release, adding that “[t]he filing deadline to submit 2021 tax returns or an extension to file and pay tax owed is Monday, April 18, 2022, for most taxpayers.”

The agency currently does not expect to extend the filing deadline, even though the IRS continues to process a backlog of tax returns from prior years, according to Tax Notes ($):

A preexisting backlog of tax returns, with millions more in unprocessed returns than in years past, combined with staffing and logistical challenges, are expected to make for an especially frustrating filing season this year for both taxpayers and tax professionals, the officials said. That means that the IRS simply doesn’t have enough resources to provide adequate service or enforcement, they said.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig noted that IRS employees will continue to work on areas affected by the pandemic, including processing tax returns from last year and answering 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 in prepared remarks, adding that “our phone volumes continue to remain at record-setting levels. We urge people to check and establish an online account to help them access information more quickly. We have invested in developing new online capacities to make this a quick and easy way for taxpayers to get the information they need."

Last filing season, the IRS phone systems received more than 145 million calls from January 1 – May 17, more than four times the number of calls during an average year.

Rettig urged taxpayers to file electronically this season.

“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,” he said in prepared remarks.

Taxpayers generally will not need to wait for their 2020 return to be fully processed to file their 2021 tax returns and can file them when they are ready. The tax agency anticipates that most taxpayers will receive their refund within 21 days of when they filed electronically if they choose direct deposit and there are no issues with their tax return.

Taxpayers who request an extension have until Monday, October 17, 2022, to file their tax returns.

Why the Filing Deadline was Moved:

The filing deadline was moved to April 18th because Washington, D.C. recognizes the Emancipation Day holiday, which is April 16th but celebrated on the weekday nearest that date.

The OfficialHolidays website explains:

Emancipation Day marks April 16th 1862 [sic], when President Abraham Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act… The holiday is notable beyond Washington as the date can affect the Internal Revenue Service's due date for tax returns for all Americans. The deadline is usually April 15th. If April 16th falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the federal and all state tax deadlines are moved to April 18th.

However, taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts have until April 19th to file their federal tax returns, the IRS announced.

“The due date is April 18, instead of April 15, because of the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia for everyone except taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts. Taxpayers in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 19, 2022, to file their returns due to the Patriots' Day holiday in those states,” the agency stated.

Key Dates from the IRS:

There are several important dates taxpayers should keep in mind for this year's filing 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.
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