The 2016 tax season starts today, January 19, and will end on April 18, 2016. The filing deadline has been extended to April 18 because the Emancipation Day holiday falls on Friday, April 15, the traditional deadline. For taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts, the deadline is Tuesday, April 19 because of Patriot’s Day on April 18.
The IRS expects more than 150 million tax returns to be filed this year. More than four out of five returns are expected to be filed electronically. Taxpayers can use e-file, the free tax return filing service of the IRS, to electronically file their returns.
Electronic filing makes processing of returns and issuing of refunds faster. Taxpayers can check the status of their refund using the ‘Where’s My Refund?’ tool on the IRS website. Electronic filers can check the status of their refund within 24 hours after filing their return, and paper filers in 4 weeks after mailing their return.
IRS Online Tools
The IRS phone lines are expected to be busy this tax season as well. To avoid the wait, taxpayers may use the IRS website to:
- Download tax forms and IRS publications (1040, 1040EZ, W-4, W-9, 1099-MISC, 941, Tax Table, etc.)
- File their tax return (e-file)
- Verify that they need to file a tax return (‘Do I Need to File a Tax Return?’ interview)
- Pay their tax bill (Direct Pay)
- Check the status of their refund (‘Where’s My Refund?’)
- Check the status of their amended return (‘Where’s My Amended Return?’)
- To find a return preparer (Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers)
“IRS.gov is the best place for taxpayers to go for information about filing their income tax returns this year,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “Although we will have more people staffing our phone lines this year, we expect those lines to remain busy so we encourage people to visit the web first as the quickest and easiest way to get assistance.”
Taxpayers may need to undergo new security requirements when preparing their taxes online, especially when signing in to their tax software. Enhanced security by the IRS is part of the IRS’ working together with states and the tax industry to provide better protection to taxpayers against identity theft and refund fraud.
Although the IRS will take less than 21 days to issue refunds, states may take longer to process returns owing to additional reviews due to security.