Where’s my Refund? Updates
When can I file my tax return?
The first day the IRS officially starts approving your 2020 tax return is February 12, 2021. However, many tax software programs will allow you to complete your return and “file” it starting January 2, 2021. They will then hold the returns until the IRS begins accepting them.
When are taxes due?
The deadline to submit your 2020 tax return and pay your tax bill is Thursday, April 15, 2021. If you can’t meet the tax filing deadline, you can file for an extension. But the sooner you file, the sooner you can receive your tax refund.
How long does it take to process a tax return?
How long it takes to process a return depends on many factors, including whether you e-file or file a paper return. As you might have guessed, e-filing results in much quicker turnaround time. Paper returns have to be manually entered into the system and can remain in the queue for several days (or longer) before they can be processed. Of course, the complexity of your return also affects how long it takes to process your return.
How long does it take to receive my tax refund?
The IRS has a goal of getting tax refunds to taxpayers within 21 days. They reach this goal about 90% of the time. In fact, most people receive their refunds in about 10-14 days. In previous years, the IRS created a schedule for when they will send out federal tax refunds via direct deposit or by check. The general rule of thumb is that direct deposits will be sent out a few days before paper checks are sent out (the delay for a paper check can actually take up to one week, depending on how many refunds the IRS has to process).
Are there any expected tax refund delays?
Yes. The IRS is required to hold tax refunds for taxpayers who claim Earned Income Tax Credits and Additional Child Tax credit until at least Feb. 15, 2021. Keep in mind it can still take a week to receive a refund after the IRS releases it. So some people who file early may experience delays while awaiting their refund. Refunds should be processed normally after this date. Also note that new identity theft protection and anti-fraud measures may hold up some refunds, as some tax returns may be held for further review.
2021 IRS E-File Schedule for Direct Deposit and Check Refund Dates
In previous years, the IRS would publish a refund cycle chart showing when a particular tax return would be deposited into a taxpayer’s bank account if they elected Direct Deposit of their refund. This was true if the return was electronically filed and a refund was due to the taxpayer. However, as a result of numerous fraud issues that have plagued the IRS community over the recent past, they have discontinued the use of this “Refund Cycle” chart and Publication 2043 has been revised.
Publication 2043 “IRS E-file Refund Cycle Chart” has been renamed “IRS Refund Information Guidelines for the Tax Preparation Community.” The new Publication 2043 is no longer a chart showing the refund cycle time frames. Instead, it provides guidance for taxpayers to check on their refunds. Taxpayers can also go on the IRS website and search “Where’s My Refund” to find information.
*RETURNS THAT CLAIM EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT OR ADDITIONAL CHILD TAX CREDIT MUST BE HELD UNTIL FEB. 15, AND IRS ANTICIPATES REFUNDS WON’T BE DIRECT-DEPOSITED UNTIL THE FIRST WEEK OF MARCH.
Please note that the IRS is very clear that you shouldn’t plan your finances in anticipation of having your refund hit your bank account on any specific date. No tax schedule that you’ll see from any source can claim a guarantee of a date on which you’ll get your refund. Estimates like the ones above can be useful for your planning, but make sure you leave yourself some wiggle room in case your luck this tax season turns out to be bad.
2021 Tax Filing Season Important Dates & Deadlines
The table below shows 2021 deadlines for filing 2020 tax returns and requesting extensions. An important point to note is that while you can file your taxes anytime after the beginning of the year, the IRS will not process any returns (paper or electronic) until IRS e-File goes live.
|2021 Tax Important Dates & Deadlines||Tax Related Activity|
|January 2, 2021||The first day to file a 2020 tax return, though the IRS generally will not accept e-file and free file returns until the date below. Even paper-based filings won’t be processed until later in the month|
|January 31, 2021||Date by which you should have received a W-2 from employers you worked for during the tax year. If not, contact their HR/Payroll department to resend tax documents|
|February 1, 2021||Deadline for 1099 statements (factors in your AGI income) that report non-employee compensation, bank interest, dividends, and distributions from a retirement plan. This date is also the deadline for self-employed individuals to file and pay in full their fourth-quarter estimated tax payment|
|February 12, 2021||IRS E-file to go live, allowing submission of electronic tax returns for the vast majority of tax filers. Paper tax returns will begin processing from this date as well|
|February 16, 2021||PATH Message will lift for EITC and ACTC-related tax refunds.|
|February 18, 2021||Financial institutions must mail out 1099-B, 1099-S and 1099-MISC forms by this date.|
|February 20, 2021||The first day Where's My Refund? on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go mobile app will be updated for the vast majority of early filers who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. Before Feb. 15, some taxpayers may see a projected date or a message that the IRS is processing their return. Taxpayers will not see a refund date on Where's My Refund? or through their software packages until then.|
|March 3, 2021||The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to actually be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting the first week of March if there are no processing issues with the tax return and the taxpayer chose a direct deposit.|
|May 17, 2021||Deadline for filing state income tax returns (for most states) and extension requests|
|May 17, 2021||Tax Day* Last day for filing federal income tax returns and extension requests.|
|October 15, 2021||Filing extended 2020 federal and state income returns. Note: you still need to file an extension request by April 15th|
|April 15, 2024||Filing a 2020 tax amendment. You can file an amended or previous year return anytime, but you have a deadline of 3 years from the original due date to claim any tax refund.|
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