On Jan. 28 the Internal Revenue Service opened the 2019 tax-filing season and began accepting and processing federal tax returns for tax year 2018. Despite the major tax law changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the IRS was able to open this year’s tax-filing season one day earlier than the 2018 tax-filing season.
More than 150 million individual tax returns for the 2018 tax year are expected to be filed, with the majority coming before the April tax deadline. Through mid-day on Jan. 28, the IRS had already received several million tax returns during its opening hours, it reported in a news release.
“I am extremely proud of the entire IRS workforce. The dedicated IRS employees have worked tirelessly to successfully implement the biggest tax law changes in 30 years and launch tax season for the nation,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig in a press release. “Although we face various near- and longer-term challenges, our employees are committed to doing everything we can to help taxpayers and get refunds out quickly.”
Following the government shutdown, the IRS is working to resume normal operations.
“The IRS will be doing everything it can to have a smooth filing season,” Rettig said. “Taxpayers can minimize errors and speed refunds by using e-file and IRS Free File along with direct deposit.”
The IRS says it expects the first refunds to be mailed in the first week of February and many refunds to be paid by mid- to late February as in previous years. The IRS reminds taxpayers to check “Where’s My Refund?” for updates. Demand on IRS phones during the early weeks of tax season is usually heavy, so taxpayers are encouraged to use IRS.gov to find answers before calling.
April deadline; help for taxpayers via e-file, Free File
The filing deadline to submit 2018 tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2019, for most taxpayers. Because of the Patriots’ Day holiday on April 15 in Maine and Massachusetts and the Emancipation Day holiday on April 16 in the District of Columbia, taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17 to file their returns.
With major changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the IRS encouraged taxpayers seeking more information on tax reform to consult two online resources: Publication 5307, Tax Reform: Basics for Individuals and Families, and Publication 5318, Tax Reform What’s New for Your Business. For other tips and resources, visit IRS.gov/taxreform or check out the Get Ready page on IRS.gov.
The IRS expects about 90 percent of returns to be filed electronically. Choosing e-file and direct deposit remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund.
The IRS Free File program, available at IRS.gov, gives eligible taxpayers a dozen options for filing and preparing their tax returns using brand-name products. IRS Free File is a partnership with commercial partners offering free brand-name software to about 100 million individuals and families with incomes of $66,000 or less. About 70 percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. People who earned more than $66,000 may use Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms.
Free tax help
Low- and moderate-income taxpayers can get help filing their tax returns for free. Tens of thousands of volunteers around the country can help people correctly complete their returns.
To get this help, taxpayers can visit one of the more than 12,000 community-based tax help sites that participate in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. To find the nearest site, use the VITA/TCE Site Locator on IRS.gov or the IRS2Go mobile app.
Getting Filing Assistance
No matter who prepares a federal tax return, by signing the return, the taxpayer becomes legally responsible for the accuracy of all information included. IRS.gov offers a number of tips about selecting a preparer and information about national tax professional groups.
The IRS urges all taxpayers to make sure they have all their year-end statements in hand before filing. This includes Forms W-2 from employers and Forms 1099 from banks and other payers. Doing so will help avoid refund delays and the need to file an amended return.
The IRS reminds taxpayers they have a variety of options to get help filing and preparing their tax returns on IRS.gov, the official IRS website. Taxpayers can find answers to their tax questions and resolve tax issues online. The Let Us Help You page helps answer most tax questions, and the IRS Services Guide links to these and other IRS services.
Taxpayers can go to View Your Account Information to securely access information about their federal tax account. They can view the amount they owe, pay online or set up an online payment agreement; access their tax records online; review the past 18 months of payment history; and view key tax return information for the current year as filed. Visit IRS.gov/secureaccess to review the required identity authentication process.
The IRS urges taxpayers to take advantage of the many tools and other resources available on IRS.gov.
The IRS continues to work with state tax agencies and the private-sector tax industry to address tax-related identity theft and refund fraud. As part of the Security Summit effort, stronger protections for taxpayers and the nation’s tax system are in effect for the 2019 tax filing season.
The new measures attack tax-related identity theft from multiple sides. Many changes will be invisible to taxpayers but will help the IRS, states and the tax industry provide additional protections, and tighter security requirements will better protect tax software accounts and personal information.
All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Some taxpayers using a tax filing software product for the first time may need their adjusted gross income (AGI) amount from their prior-year tax return to verify their identity.
Taxpayers using the same tax software they used last year will not need to enter their prior year information to electronically sign their 2017 tax return. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.
All information provided by IRS.