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When Will the IRS Begin Accepting Returns & How Soon Can I Get My Refund?

December 21, 2018

The 2019 tax season officially kicks off in January, and many taxpayers are eager to receive their tax refunds this year due to all the talk about tax reform.

So, what’s the earliest date you can file your return?

The IRS will begin accepting efiled 2018 tax returns on January 28th. Due to the significant changes to tax law this year, and the tax forms, this is later than normal. Historically, the IRS began accepting returns during the second or third week of January. For you, this means filing your taxes and receiving your refund will be delayed by one to two weeks. We will update this blog post when the IRS releases the dates.

How soon can I get a refund?

For early filers, the answer is probably the second week of February (around February 8th), but your refund could be issued as late as mid-February. The IRS does not release a calendar for refunds but has issued guidance that most filers should receive their refund within 21 days of filing. If you efile your return and opt for direct deposit of the refund, your refund should arrive within 7-10 days of filing.

Tips to Receive Your Refund Fast

  • File as soon as possible. Not only will you receive your refund sooner, but it might reduce the risk of tax refund theft. Tax refund theft occurs when someone steals your personal information, then uses it to file a fake return and claim your refund.
  • File online or using a paid preparer. Filing a paper return can take 6-8 weeks to process.
  • Use direct deposit. You can receive a refund in as little as 7-10 days if you use free direct deposit. Avoid using tax services to “loan” or “advance” you the tax refund. These services may charge you $100 or more for a week-long loan which is not worth it.
  • Track your refund status with the IRS at https://www.irs.gov/refunds. Tracking your refund will not cause it to arrive faster, but it will let you know when to expect your money.

Tips for Early Filers

If you plan to file early, make sure that you have received all your tax documents. Most taxpayers will not receive all the required documentation needed to file their tax returns until February. Generally, only taxpayers with straightforward returns will have all of their documentation early enough to file during the first couple weeks of tax season. It’s a good practice to compare your current year tax documents to your prior year tax documents to ensure that you have received all your documents prior to filing. At a minimum you will need the following:

  • To file you will need to have W-2 forms from every job you had during the previous year and 1099’s related to miscellaneous or self-employment income received during the year.
  • You will also need to have documentation for any deductions or credits you may qualify for. These documents include Forms 1098 for mortgage interest or student loan interest. If claiming your children, you will need to have their social security numbers.

Keep in mind that filing a correct return is more important than filing early. Incorrect returns can lead to delays in processing or a notice from the IRS after the return is filed.

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2019 Tax Deadline: Monday, April 15, 2019

If you don’t have all your tax documents to file your taxes by April 15th, you or your tax If you don’t have all your tax documents to file your taxes by April 15th, you or your tax professional can easily file for an extension using Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Filing this form will extend the due date of the return to October 15, 2019. The extension is automatically granted.

Even if you have requested an extension, you are still required to pay your taxes by April 15th. A tax professional can assist you in estimating your tax due to determine if payment should be made with the application for extension. If you are due a refund, all you need to do is request an extension by April 15th.

Amy Schwende

Amy is a tax attorney with 10 years of public accounting experience. She has served a wide range of clients throughout her career with a focus on S corporations, partnerships, and their owners. In her free time she enjoys biking, reading, and spending time with her family.

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