When Does Tax Season Start?

Tax season starts in the second half of January. Here’s when you can file your 2022 tax return due on April 15, 2023.

This post is provided for general information only. Please confirm the details and circumstances of your unique situation with your tax accountant or other appropriate advisor before taking action.

What is the earliest date you can file your tax return?

The IRS opens up tax filing in January. It’s usually after the MLK weekend.

The date varies each year. The IRS has to update the tax forms for the current year and do final checks on their computer systems. When they’re ready, they’ll open electronic filing.

If you use tax filing software, you might be able to file a few days earlier than the official date. Most tax software opens around the New Year. If you finish your tax return and press file, they’ll hold it until the IRS opens electronic filing and file it when that happens.

The trick is that the IRS often starts taking tax returns from the major tax preparation companies before they officially open filing season. They use early tax returns to make sure they’re properly connected with the electronic filing companies. So if you submit your tax return early, there’s a good chance it will be accepted early.

When does IRS Free File Open?

IRS Free File usually opens at the same time as tax filing. You may not be able to start your tax return with a Free File provider until tax filing officially opens.

In some cases, one or more Free File providers might take longer to be available. They might need more time to update their software, or they might still be working out an agreement to participate in Free Filing with the IRS.

When do TurboTax, TaxAct, H&R Block, and other tax filing companies open?

Each tax filing company usually wants to open as soon as possible so you choose them instead of someone else. However, they can’t finish their software until the IRS finalizes all the tax forms for the year.

You can usually sign up and start your tax return in early January.

When do you get your 1099s?

Most 1099s are due by January 31st, but there are a few you might get on February 15th or later.

Why should you file early?

There are several reasons you might want to file your tax return early.

  • You want to get your refund sooner. The IRS process tax refunds as tax returns come in and typically goes in the order the tax return is received.
  • You want to file by Febuary 15th to avoid having to make a fourth quarter estimated tax payment.
  • You just want to get your taxes over with.
  • You need a filed tax return showing proof of income (such as for a mortgage application).
  • You need to figure out how much money you owe.

Does filing early mean you have to pay early?

You don’t have to pay when you file your tax return. You still get until April 15th to submit your payment even if you file sooner.

There is no benefit to waiting to file your tax return if you’re only waiting because you don’t want to pay yet.

Can you file earlier by mail?

Filing by mail is not a good way to jump the line. It will usually take longer for the IRS to process your mailed tax return.

The IRS won’t start processing mailed tax returns until they open up filing. If you send your tax return in really early, there’s a chance they may even send it back. Once the IRS starts processing returns, electronic returns usually take a few days, while mailed returns usually take weeks.

If you’re filing by mail, you need to make sure you’re using the final tax forms for the current year. Depending on the forms and possible changes, these are available anywhere from late fall to right up when the IRS opens tax filing.

If you use the wrong tax forms, there’s a chance it could cause an error that costs you penalties and interest. There’s also a chance that the IRS will reject your tax return.

What if you need more time to file?

If you need more time to file, you have every right to take all the way up until April 15th. You can even get a six-month extension to file if you need one.

There are a few things to know before you decide to wait.

  • If you want to file with a tax professional and don’t make an appointment early (by February), they may not be available to file your tax return on time.
  • Online tax software can be super slow and sometimes even crash the last few days before taxes are due when too many people are trying to use it at once.
  • If you don’t pay what you owe by April 15th, even if you got an extension to file, you’ll owe interest and penalties.

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