Tax season can be a stressful time for many people, but knowing when you can file your taxes can help alleviate some of that stress. In this article, we will answer the question: “When’s the earliest you can file taxes?”
The Basics of Tax Season
Before we dive into when you can file taxes, let’s go over some basics about tax season in the United States. Tax season runs from January 1 to April 15 each year, meaning that taxpayers have until April 15 to file their federal income tax returns. However, there are certain circumstances in which an extension may be granted.
Federal income tax returns are filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is responsible for collecting and enforcing federal tax laws. Each state also has its own system for collecting state income taxes.
So When Can You File Your Taxes?
The IRS typically begins processing tax returns in late January or early February of each year. However, it is important to note that this does not necessarily mean that you can file your return at this time.
In fact, while the IRS starts accepting returns during this period, most taxpayers do not receive all their necessary forms until closer to mid-February because companies must provide their employees with W-2s by January 31st; thus individuals must wait until they have received their Form W-2 before filing their return.
One exception is if you are eligible to use Free File software through IRS.gov – then it’s possible to start preparing your return as early as late December or early January.
Keep These Dates in Mind
Here are some key dates related to filing taxes:
- January 27th: The IRS begins accepting paper and electronic tax returns.
- April 15th: The deadline for individuals to file and pay any remaining balance due on their federal income tax return.
- October 15th: The deadline for individuals who requested an extension to file their tax return.
It’s important to note that while the IRS begins accepting returns on January 27th, this does not mean that you should necessarily file your taxes as early as possible. Filing too early can lead to errors and may require you to amend your return later on.
Benefits of Filing Early
While we’ve discussed why filing too early can be detrimental, there are also some benefits of filing your taxes sooner rather than later:
- Quick Refunds: If you’re entitled to a refund from the federal government or state, filing earlier generally means receiving it faster too.
- Avoiding Late Fees: Missing the April 15th due date can lead to penalties and fees, so it’s best to get your return filed ahead of time.
Now that you have a better understanding of when you can file taxes during tax season in the United States, make sure that you give yourself enough time and avoid any common mistakes like missing deadlines or incorrect information. By following these guidelines and preparing well ahead of the deadline, taxpayers can experience smoother tax-filing processes with reduced stress levels.
1. When is the earliest I can file my taxes for this year?
The IRS begins accepting tax returns in late January each year. For tax-year 2020, electronic filing opened on February 12th, 2021. Paper returns can take longer to process and may require additional time before you receive your refund.
2. What’s the latest date I can file my taxes this year without penalty?
For tax-year 2020, the deadline to file federal income tax returns was May 17th, 2021. However, be sure to check with your state’s revenue agency as some states have different deadlines.
3. Should I still file early even if I owe money?
Yes – filing early will give you a clearer picture of how much you owe and more time to come up with a payment plan if necessary. The government assesses penalties and interest on unpaid taxes so it’s best to get ahead of any outstanding amounts due as soon as possible by either paying in full or setting up a payment plan through the IRS website or consulting with an accountant or licensed professional about other options that may be available based on individual circumstances.