Tax season 2022: IRS now accepting tax returns. What to know about your refund before filing taxes. – USA TODAY

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Tax season 2022 has arrived.

The Internal Revenue Service starts accepting and processing 2021 tax returns Monday, Jan. 24, 17 days earlier than last tax season’s late start of Feb. 12.

However, you might not have everything you need in order to file yet.

(If you have any tax questions, feel free to fill out this form, which also is below. USA TODAY will be answering top reader questions as we go through the 2022 tax season.)

This tax season, you’ll need to be aware of some key issues: There will be differences in how jobless benefits will be treated compared with the 2020 returns. You’ll also need to account for advance Child Tax Credit payments, the return of the Recovery Rebate Credit, and a special break for charitable contributions among other things. 

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As you get started putting together your returns, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Will there be tax delays due to COVID?

The IRS is warning that a resurgence of COVID-19 infections on top of less funding authorization from Congress than the Biden administration had requested could make this filing season particularly challenging.

“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,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said.

Avoiding a paper tax return will be more important than ever this year to avert processing delays, he said.

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What is the fastest way to get a refund?

Rettig urged taxpayers to file their tax returns electronically and to get their refunds by direct deposit. The IRS says refunds can be directly deposited into bank accounts, prepaid debit cards or mobile apps as long as a routing and account number is provided, the IRS said.

When should I receive my 2021 W-2 by?

W-2’s are due to be mailed no later than Jan. 31. According to the IRS, a 2015 law made it a permanent requirement that employers file copies of their Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statements, and Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, with the Social Security Administration by Jan. 31.

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When is the tax filing deadline in 2022?

The deadline to file 2021 income tax returns is Monday, April 18, for most people, three days later than the normal April 15 deadline for filing taxes.

The later date is a result of the Emancipation holiday in the District of Columbia. By law, Washington, D.C., holidays affect tax deadlines for everyone the same way federal holidays do. Taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 19 to file because of a holiday celebrated in those states, Patriots’ Day. 

The IRS has extended the deadline until May 16 for victims of the late 2021 Colorado wildfires as well as victims of the December tornadoes in parts of Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The extension applies to various individual and business tax returns and tax payments deadlines.

What is the deadline for filing a tax extension?

April 18 also is the deadline for requesting an extension, which gives taxpayers until Oct. 17 to file their returns for 2021.

Do I qualify for IRS Free File?

If your adjusted gross income was $73,000 or less in 2021, you can use free tax software to prepare and electronically file your tax return, according to IRS instructions online for the 2021 tax season.

Taxpayers who earned more can use Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of the federal tax forms, to file their tax returns online. Go to to learn more.

When should I expect my tax refund in 2022?

The IRS anticipates most taxpayers will receive refunds, as in past years. Most should receive them within 21 days of when they file electronically if they choose direct deposit (and there are no problems with their returns). Last year’s average federal refund was more than $2,800.

However, by law, the IRS can’t issue refunds involving the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit before mid-February, though taxpayers still may file earlier than that.

Can I track my refund with the ‘Where’s My Refund’ tool like in the past?

The IRS says using “Where’s My Refund?” on and the IRS2Go mobile app are the best ways to check the status of a refund. You can check the status within 24 hours after we’ve received your e-file return or four weeks after you’ve mailed a paper return.

However, the agency said the website and app “will be updated with projected deposit dates for most early (Earned Income Tax Credit/Additional Child Tax Credit) refund filers by February 22.”

IRS tax stimulus checks for 2022? Perhaps with Recovery Rebate Credit.

Some people might want to file returns even though they’re not required to do so to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit or the 2021 stimulus payments.

According to the IRS, individuals who didn’t qualify for a third Economic Impact Payment or got less than the full amount may be eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit. For those who got some money, the IRS says you’ll need to know the total received to calculate the correct rebate credit to avoid processing delays.

The IRS will send Letter 6475 starting in late January with the total amount of the third Economic Impact Payment received. Economic impact payment amounts also can be viewed on IRS online accounts.

Child Tax Credit payments: Do I need IRS letter 6419 to file taxes?

Some families may want to hold off a bit when it comes to filing a return until they spot the IRS letter 6419, which can help them file an accurate return and avoid delays. Others who don’t want to wait may need to review their own records and check their specific information at the “Child Tax Credit Update Portal Site” at

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Will unemployment benefits come with a tax break in 2022?

Unlike last year, a special tax break doesn’t exist for up to $10,200 of unemployment benefits. The temporary tax break applied only for those with modified adjusted gross incomes of less than $150,000 in 2020 and those who also received unemployment benefits last year.  

This year, jobless benefits received in 2021 will be taxable on the 2021 federal income tax return.

Contributing: Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press; Russ Wiles, Arizona Republic; Associated Press

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