2024 Tax Filing Dates: The Best Time to File early for Maximum Refunds

Photo of author
Written By kevin

A financial strategist with a knack for demystifying taxes and insurance, Kevin distills complex concepts into actionable advice.

As the 2024 tax season kicks off, millions of Americans are gearing up to file their returns and potentially receive a much-anticipated refund. While the traditional April 15th deadline looms large, savvy taxpayers know that filing early can offer significant advantages, including faster refunds, reduced risk of identity theft, and the avoidance of late penalties. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the key dates, benefits, and strategies for maximizing your refund by filing your taxes early in 2024.

2024 Tax Filing Season Overview

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officially began accepting and processing 2023 tax returns on January 29, 2024. For most taxpayers, the deadline to file their federal income tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2024. However, there are a few exceptions:

  • Residents of Maine and Massachusetts have until Wednesday, April 17, 2024, due to state holidays on April 15 and 16.
  • Taxpayers in certain disaster areas designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may have extended deadlines. Check the FEMA website for details.

Benefits of Filing Early

While procrastination is tempting, there are compelling reasons to prioritize filing your taxes as soon as possible:

Faster Refunds

One of the primary advantages of filing early is the potential to receive your tax refund sooner. The IRS typically issues refunds within 21 days for electronically filed returns with direct deposit. In contrast, paper-filed returns can take up to 6 weeks or more to process.

By filing early and choosing direct deposit, you can gain access to your refund money faster, allowing you to pay off debts, invest, or cover essential expenses more promptly.

Prevent Tax Identity Theft

Tax identity theft is a serious concern, with criminals filing fraudulent returns using stolen personal information to claim refunds illegitimately. Filing early reduces the risk of falling victim to this crime, as your legitimate return will be processed before any fraudulent attempts.

Avoid Late Penalties

Missing the April 15th deadline can result in late filing penalties of up to 5% of the unpaid tax for each month the return is late. By filing early, you eliminate the risk of incurring these costly penalties and the associated stress.

More Time to Pay Taxes Owed

If you owe taxes, filing early gives you more time to arrange payment before the deadline. This flexibility can be invaluable for managing your finances and avoiding late payment penalties.

Obtain Financial Information Sooner

For those planning major financial decisions, such as buying a home or applying for student aid, filing early can provide the necessary tax information in a timely manner.

Reduce Stress and Need for Extensions

Getting an early start on your tax return eliminates the last-minute rush and the need for filing extensions, which can be a source of unnecessary stress and complications.

Factors That Can Delay Refunds

While filing early generally expedites the refund process, there are a few factors that can potentially cause delays:

  • Filing during peak season (mid-March through April 15) may result in longer processing times due to high volume.
  • Claiming certain credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), can delay refunds. By law, the IRS cannot issue these refunds before mid-February.
  • Existing debts owed to the federal government may result in refund offsets or delays.
  • Errors or incomplete information on the tax return can also slow down processing.

To minimize delays, it’s crucial to file accurately and as early as possible, before the peak season rush.

Tax Refund Schedule and Tracking

The IRS provides a handy refund schedule chart and calendar to help taxpayers estimate when they may receive their refund based on their filing method and date. Additionally, the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on the IRS website and mobile app allow you to track the status of your refund after filing.

Here’s an estimated refund schedule based on the date you e-file your return and choose direct deposit:

Date Return E-Filed Date Direct Deposit Sent
January 29, 2024 February 9, 2024
February 5 February 16
February 12 February 23
February 19 March 1
February 26 March 8
March 4 March 15
March 11 March 22
March 18 March 29
April 1 April 12*
April 8 April 19*
April 15 (Filing Deadline) April 26*

*During peak tax filing season (mid-March through April), the IRS may take longer to process tax returns.

State Tax Filing Deadlines

Most states follow the April 15th federal deadline, but some have different due dates. For example:

  • Massachusetts and Maine: April 17, 2024
  • Hawaii: April 22, 2024
  • New Mexico and Oklahoma: April 30, 2024 (for e-returns only)
  • Delaware and Iowa: April 30, 2024
  • Virginia: May 1, 2024
  • Louisiana: May 15, 2024

Check with your state’s Department of Revenue for the most current information and deadlines.

Filing for an Extension

If you can’t file by April 15th, you can request an automatic 6-month extension to October 15, 2024, by filing Form 4868. However, an extension only provides more time to file; it does not extend the deadline for paying any taxes owed.

Maximizing Your Refund

To ensure you receive the maximum refund possible, consider the following strategies:

  • Check eligibility for tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit, which can significantly increase your refund.
  • Ensure all income and withholding information is accurately reported to avoid processing delays.
  • Contribute to retirement accounts or make other deductible expenses before the end of the tax year to reduce your taxable income.
  • Consult with a tax professional to identify potential deductions or credits you may be eligible for based on your unique circumstances.

By filing early and taking advantage of these strategies, you can maximize your refund and gain access to those funds sooner, potentially providing a financial boost for your goals and aspirations.

Categories Tax