WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is delaying the start of the tax filing season to Friday, Feb. 12.
That’s when the IRS says it will begin accepting and processing 2020 tax year returns. That process is usually initiated in late January.
The agency announced the delay Friday, saying it will allow them to do additional programming and testing of IRS systems following the Dec. 27 tax law changes that provided a second round of direct payments and other benefits to Americans.
The IRS says the programming work is critical to ensuring its systems run smoothly. If filing season were opened without the correct programming in place, the IRS says there could be a delay in issuing refunds to taxpayers.
"These changes ensure that eligible people will receive any remaining stimulus money as a Recovery Rebate Credit when they file their 2020 tax return," the IRS wrote in a statement.
The IRS says its urging taxpayers to file electronically with direct deposit as soon as they have the information they need, in order to speed up refunds amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
People can begin filing their tax returns immediately with tax software companies, including IRS Free File partners. Those groups are starting to accept tax returns now and the returns will be transmitted to the IRS starting Feb. 12.
"Planning for the nation's filing season process is a massive undertaking, and IRS teams have been working non-stop to prepare for this as well as delivering Economic Impact Payments in record time," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Given the pandemic, this is one of the nation's most important filing seasons ever. This start date will ensure that people get their needed tax refunds quickly while also making sure they receive any remaining stimulus payments they are eligible for as quickly as possible."
Last year's average tax refund was more than $2,500. More than 150 million tax returns are expected to be filed this year, with the vast majority before the Thursday, April 15 deadline.
Overall, the IRS says it anticipates nine out of 10 taxpayers will receive their refund within 21 days of when they file electronically with direct deposit if there are no issues with their tax return.