WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Internal Revenue Service is encouraging taxpayers to use IRS online tools and resources to find the information they need to be ready to file their 2021 federal tax returns, including important special steps related to Economic Impact Payments and advance Child Tax Credit payments.
Individuals, especially those who don’t usually file a tax return, are urged to file their 2021 tax return electronically beginning January 24, 2022. Using tax preparation software or a trusted tax professional will help guide people through the process and avoid making errors. Filing an incomplete or inaccurate return may mean a processing delay that slows the resulting tax refund.
“There are some simple steps people can take to make sure they avoid delays and receive a quick refund,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “It’s critical this year to avoid a paper tax return whenever possible and file electronically with direct deposit. And it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re filing an accurate tax return. The IRS urges people to review some straightforward tips that can help them avoid problems and get their tax refunds quickly.”
This is the third in a series of reminders to help taxpayers get ready for the upcoming tax filing season. A special page, updated and available on IRS.gov, outlines steps taxpayers can take now to make tax filing easier.
IRS.gov tools are easy to use and available 24 hours a day. Millions of people use them to find information about their accounts, get answers to tax questions or file and pay taxes.
Recovery Rebate Credit/Economic Impact Payments
The IRS states that 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. They will need to know the total amount of their third Economic Impact Payments received to calculate their correct 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit amount when they file their 2021 tax return. Ensuring they use the correct payment amounts will help them avoid a processing delay that may slow their refund. Beginning in late January, the IRS will send Letter 6475 with the total amount of the third Economic Impact Payment received. People can also view their economic impact payments using their Online Account.
Advance Child Tax Credit payments
The IRS also states that people will need to know the total amount of advance payments they received in 2021 to compare them with the full amount of the Child Tax Credit that they can properly claim when they file their 2021 tax return. People who received the advance payments can access their online account to check the total amount of their payments. The IRS is also sending Letter 6419 to provide the total amount of advance Child Tax Credit payments received in 2021. Eligible families who did not get monthly advance payments in 2021 can still get a lump-sum payment by claiming the Child Tax Credit when they file a 2021 federal income tax return this year. This includes families who don’t normally need to file a return.
Interactive Tax Assistant
Moreover, the IRS says that the Interactive Tax Assistant answers general tax law questions, including helping to determine if a type of income is taxable or if someone is eligible to claim certain credits and deductions. With changes to income and other life events for many in 2021, tax credits and deductions can mean more money in a taxpayer’s pocket. Thinking about eligibility now can help make tax filing easier.
Additionally, the IRS states that Taxpayers can use their Online Account to securely see important information when preparing to file their tax return or following up on balances or notices. Taxpayers can view the amount they owe, make and track payments and view payment plan details. Taxpayers can now also manage their communication preferences to go paperless for certain notices from the IRS, or to receive email notifications when the IRS sends them a new digital notice. They can also access information about Economic Impact Payments and advance Child Tax Credit payments needed to file a complete and accurate return. Act now to create an account.
Where’s My Refund?
Taxpayers can check the status of their refund using the Where’s My Refund? tool. The status is available within 24 hours after the IRS accepts their e-filed tax return or up to four weeks after they mailed a paper return. The Where’s My Refund? tool updates once every 24 hours, usually overnight, so taxpayers only need to check once a day.
Get ready to use direct deposit for tax refunds
The IRS also reminds the public that direct deposit gives taxpayers access to their refund faster than a paper check. Individuals can use a bank account, prepaid debit card or mobile app to use direct deposit and will need to provide routing and account numbers. Learn how to open an account at an FDIC-Insured bank or through the National Credit Union Locator Tool. Veterans should see the Veterans Benefits Banking Program for access to financial services at participating banks.
IRS Free File
Everyone can file electronically for free. The IRS Free File program, available only through IRS.gov or the IRS2Go app, offers brand-name tax preparation software packages. For those who earned $73,000 or less in 2021, they may qualify for Free File guided tax software. The software does all the work of finding deductions, credits and exemptions. Some of the Free File offers may include a free state tax return. Taxpayers comfortable filling out tax forms, can use Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic federal tax forms paper version to file their tax returns online, regardless of income.
Members of the military and qualifying veterans can use MilTax, a Department of Defense program that generally offers free online tax preparation and e-filing software for federal returns and up to three state returns.
Free tax return preparation site
The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free tax help and e-file for taxpayers who qualify.
Choosing a preparer
The IRS has several options for finding a tax preparer. The IRS provides an online database to help taxpayers locate an authorized e-file provider in their area who can electronically file their tax return. Choosing a Tax Professional provides information for selecting a tax professional. The Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications can help taxpayers find preparers in their area who currently hold professional credentials recognized by the IRS, or who hold an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion. Taxpayers need to remember that they, not the tax preparer, are responsible for information on their tax return once they sign it.
Links to online tools, publications, and other helpful resources are available on the Get Ready page. For more information about planning ahead, see Publication 5348, Get Ready to File and Publication 5349, Year-Round Tax Planning is for Everyone.
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