The Internal Revenue Service has announced that tax filing season will begin January 29. Nearly 155 million individual tax returns are expected in 2018.
Taxpayers will have two extra days to file their returns this year. April 15, the traditional due date, falls on a Sunday in 2018, and Washington, D.C.'s Emancipation Day holiday will be observed April 16, so the tax deadline falls on Tuesday, April 17. The IRS will begin accepting returns January 29. Tax preparers may accept returns prior to that date, and will begin submitting them to the IRS when systems begin processing returns.
The IRS encourages taxpayers to file electronically, though paper returns are still accepted. Electronic filing speeds refund payments, and 80 percent of returns are expected to be submitted electronically. Although paper returns are accepted in late January, processing those returns will not begin until mid-February as the agency continues to update systems.
By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds for those claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax credit before mid-February, though returns claiming those credits will be processed as they are received. Refunds for returns claiming the credit are not expected to be available until at least February 27. In general, 90 percent of refunds are expected to be issued within three weeks from the time the return is submitted.
IRS Offers Help for Taxpayers
The IRS reminds taxpayers they have a variety of options to get help filing and preparing their tax return on IRS.gov, the official IRS website. Taxpayers can find answers to their tax questions and resolve tax issues online. The Let Us Help You page helps answer most tax questions, and the IRS Services Guide links to these and other IRS services.
Taxpayers can go to IRS.gov/account to securely access information about their federal tax account. They can view the amount they owe, pay online or set up an online payment agreement; access their tax records online; review the past 18 months of payment history; and view key tax return information for the current year as filed. Visit IRS.gov/secureaccess to review the required identity authentication process.
In addition, 70 percent of the nation's taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. Commercial partners of the IRS offer free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $66,000 or less.
The online fillable forms provide electronic versions of IRS paper forms to all taxpayers regardless of income that can be prepared and filed by people comfortable with completing their own returns.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offer free tax help to people who qualify. Go to IRS.gov and enter "free tax prep" in the search box to learn more and find a nearby VITA or TCE site, or download the IRS2Go smartphone app to find a free tax prep provider. If eligible, taxpayers can also locate help from a community volunteer. Go to IRS.gov and click on the Filing tab for more information.
The IRS also reminds taxpayers that a trusted tax professional can provide helpful information and advice. Tips for choosing a return preparer and details about national tax professional groups are available on IRS.gov.