The IRS “strongly encourages” that you file electronically. The agency won’t even begin to process paper returns until mid-February.
This year taxpayers will have until April 17, two days later than the usual April 15 deadline, to file their returns. That’s because the 15th falls on a Sunday and April 16 is Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in Washington, D.C. If you want to file late you can request an automatic six-month extension, but you’ll still need to pay what you owe by April 17 to avoid late-payment penalties.
The 2018 tax season is opening six days later than in 2017. The IRS says it set a later 2018 opening date to give it time to assess the potential impact of the new tax law on tax returns and to make sure its tax processing systems are fully ready and secure. The IRS expects nearly 155 million individuals to file returns this year, up from about 153 million in 2017.
Last year, the IRS received hundreds of complaints about bogus emails and other scams targeting tax filers and tax preparers. Identity thieves and scammers used individuals’ personal information to file fraudulent tax returns, steal personal data or to trick people into paying them money purportedly owed the IRS.
The IRS says one of the best ways to avoid a tax scam is to understand that the agency does not contact taxpayers via email, text message or social media to request personal or financial information. It also does not call taxpayers to demand payments.
The IRS says e-filing and choosing direct deposit for refunds is still the fastest and safest way to file. It expects more than four of every five tax returns to be prepared electronically.
While 90 percent of refunds will be issued in less than three weeks, under federal law the IRS has to wait until mid-February to issue refunds for taxpayers who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit before mid-February. The Earned Income Tax Credit benefits individuals with incomes between about $15,000 and $53,930 and who meet other financial requirements. The Additional Child Tax Credit is based on a filer’s income and tax liability.
Taxpayers who need filing and preparation help through the IRS can find more information at IRS.gov/GetReady. Also, beginning Feb. 1 you can take advantage of AARP Foundation’s free Tax-Aide Program, now entering its 50th year.