IRS tax return deadline is Monday. What to know about extensions, refunds and child tax credits. – USA TODAY

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Have you filed your taxes yet?

If you haven’t already or filed for an extension, time is not on your side.

Between the Easter egg hunts and holiday festivities, you might need to itemize your deductions and calculate your refund – or what you owe.

Tax season ends the earliest it has since 2019 with the Internal Revenue Service‘s tax return deadline April 18 for most states. In 2020, the deadline was in July and last year’s extension was mid-May. 

The IRS started accepting and processing 2021 tax returns Jan. 24, 17 days earlier than last tax season’s start of Feb. 12.

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The IRS has received nearly 42 million e-filed returns that were self-prepared through April 1 – and 45.9 million returns filed by tax professionals. 

The total number of returns the IRS received hit nearly 91.3 million through April 1 – down 2.1% from a year ago.

This tax season, there are key differences in how jobless benefits will be treated compared with the 2020 returns. You’ll also need to account for advance Child Tax Credit payments, the return of the Recovery Rebate Credit, and a special break for charitable contributions among other things. 

Because of the credits, tax refunds are averaging $3,226 so far this tax season. That’s 11.5% higher than last year, according to data from the IRS.

As you finish up your return and await the refund, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Tax rules changed by COVID relief

Pandemic-related relief changed many rules for 2021 tax returns. On 2021 returns, there’s no longer an age cap or ceiling set at 64 or younger for workers to qualify for the earned income tax credit. It’s a one-time-only deal, but the AARP is pushing to extend the tax break for older workers beyond 2021 tax returns. 

The earned income credit (also called EITC or EIC) has been expanded so that the credit can apply on 2021 federal returns to workers who are 65 or older, even if they do not have dependent children, thanks to the American Rescue Plan passed last year. 

It now also applies to childless workers from age 19 to 24 who are not half-time or full-time students and are claimed as dependents on their parents’ tax return.

BIGGER REFUNDS: 2022 taxes: Refunds are higher thanks to Child Tax Credit, third stimulus check

Last day to file taxes in 2022? Has the tax deadline been extended?

The deadline to file 2021 income tax returns is Monday, April 18, for most people, three days later than the normal April 15 deadline for filing taxes.

The later date is a result of the Emancipation holiday in the District of Columbia. By law, Washington, D.C., holidays affect tax deadlines for everyone the same way federal holidays do. Taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 19 to file because of the Patriots’ Day holiday celebrated in those states. 

The IRS has extended the deadline until May 16 for victims of the late 2021 Colorado wildfires as well as for victims of the December tornadoes in parts of Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The extension applies to various individual and business tax returns and tax payments deadlines.

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Where to mail federal tax return? IRS mailing addresses vary.

The address depends on what state you live in and whether you are mailing a payment. Find the list of IRS mailing addresses here.

What does the cryptocurrency question on 1040 tax form mean? 

A question is now listed on the front of the 1040 form about cryptocurrency: “At any time during 2021, did you receive, sell, exchange, or otherwise dispose of any financial interest in any virtual currency?”

Those who engaged in a transaction involving virtual currency in 2021 must respond “yes” to a question, also found on Form 1040-SR.

“Do not leave this field blank,” according to an IRS alert called “What’s New” in the instruction booklet for the current tax season.

“The question must be answered by all taxpayers, not just taxpayers who engaged in a transaction involving virtual currency.”

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Fastest way to get a refund?

The IRS advises filing taxes electronically and having the refund direct deposited into a financial account. The IRS says refunds can be deposited directly into bank accounts, prepaid debit cards or mobile apps as long as a routing and account number is provided, the IRS said.

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What is the 2022 tax extension deadline? You’ll need IRS 4868 form.

April 18 also is the deadline for requesting a tax extension, which gives taxpayers until Oct. 17 to file their returns for 2021. However, there is no extension on payments so if you think you will owe money, it is recommended that you send a payment by April 18 to avoid interest and other penalties. 

The IRS estimates that 15.2 million taxpayers will file for an extension, which is Form 4868, in 2022. Nearly 11.6 million taxpayers filed Form 4868 in 2020, based on the most recent data; and an estimated 13.56 million filed for an extension in 2021.

TAX EXTENSION: Not ready for the April 18 tax deadline? Here’s how to file an extension.

What happens if you file taxes late?

If you are getting a refund, there is no penalty, according to H&R Block. Then again, not getting your money from the IRS might be punishment enough.

If you owe the IRS, the penalties kick in. TurboTax says penalties can reach 5% of the amount owed for each month you are late. The maximum amount taxpayers can be penalized is 25% of the amount due, according to TurboTax.

TAX SEASON CHALLENGES: The IRS is ‘buried’ in paper after ‘most challenging’ year for taxpayers. Why it matters for 2022 tax season.

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Can you still get the child tax credit, stimulus money after the tax deadline?

Yes, even if you don’t file taxes by the deadline or don’t owe taxes, April 18 is not the last chance to claim child tax credits or the earned income tax credit. These credits can be claimed by filing a return by Oct. 17.

Free tax filing: Who qualifies to use IRS Free File?

If your adjusted gross income was $73,000 or less in 2021, you can use free tax software to prepare and electronically file your tax return, according to IRS instructions online for the 2021 tax season.

Taxpayers who earned more can use Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of the federal tax forms, to file their tax returns online. Go to IRS.gov to learn more. 

The IRS said all taxpayers can use Free File to file an extension.

TAX RULES: New rules for 2021 taxes may mean bigger refund for young workers, retirees with side jobs

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How long does it take to get a tax refund?

The IRS anticipates most taxpayers will receive refunds, as in past years. Most should receive them within 21 days of when they file electronically if they choose direct deposit (and there are no problems with their returns). Last year’s average federal refund was more than $2,800.

The IRS says many factors can affect the timing of a refund after the IRS receives a return electronically. A manual review may be necessary when a return has errors, is incomplete or is affected by identity theft or fraud.

FLAT TAX RATES EXPLAINED: States’ ‘flat tax’ mania: Better for taxpayers or another gift to billionaires?

TAX APPS: Taxes: How much can you expect to pay to file online this year? What’s a simple return? Get answers.

Track tax refund with IRS ‘Where’s My Refund’ tool?

Yes, the IRS says using “Where’s My Refund?” on IRS.gov/refunds and the IRS2Go mobile app are the best ways to check the status of a refund. You can check the status within 24 hours after submitting an e-file return or four weeks after you’ve mailed a paper return.

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Stimulus checks? Maybe through Recovery Rebate Credit

Some people might want to file returns – even though they’re not required to do so – to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit or the 2021 stimulus payments.

According to the IRS, individuals who didn’t qualify for a third Economic Impact Payment or got less than the full amount may be eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit. For those who got some money, the IRS says you’ll need to know the total received to calculate the correct rebate credit and avoid processing delays.

The IRS started mailing Letter 6475 in late January with the total amount of the third Economic Impact Payment received. Economic impact payment amounts also can be viewed on IRS online accounts.

What to look for with Child Tax Credit payments?

In January, the IRS advised families to hold off filing taxes until they received IRS letter 6419, which can help them file an accurate return and avoid delays. However, some taxpayers received letters with inaccurate amounts. Before filing taxes, review your records and check the information at the IRS “Child Tax Credit Update Portal Site” at IRS.gov/ctcportal.

DON’T THROW THIS IRS DOCUMENT AWAY: Why IRS Letter 6419 is critical to filing your 2021 taxes and the child tax credit.

TAX SEASON GLITCH: First glitch of the tax season is here: That IRS child tax credit letter may be inaccurate

Unemployment benefits with a tax break in 2022?

Taxpayers got a surprise tax break on unemployment benefits received only in 2020, as part of a $1.9 trillion stimulus package signed into law in March 2021. 

As part of the American Rescue Plan, many taxpayers were no longer required to pay taxes on up to $10,200 in unemployment benefits received in 2020. The exclusion was up to $10,200 of jobless benefits for each spouse for married couples filing jointly.

But jobless benefits received in 2021 will be taxable on the 2021 federal income tax return.

UNEMPLOYMENT INCOME TAXABLE: Don’t forget: Jobless benefits are taxable on 2021 tax returns

Contributing: Brett Molina and Elisabeth Buchwald, USA TODAY; Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press; Russ Wiles, Arizona Republic; Associated Press

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