Home » Tax season begins Jan. 24. Here’s what to know about filing your tax return ASAP

Tax season begins Jan. 24. Here’s what to know about filing your tax return ASAP

Tax season begins Jan. 24. Here's what to know about filing your tax return ASAP

Constantine Johnny/Getty

The IRS has announced that it will begin accepting 2021 tax returns on Jan. 24, marking the beginning of the 2022 tax season.

This year, it’s more important than ever to file your taxes as early as possible. The IRS is backlogged and short-staffed while facing with COVID-related tax challenges for the second year in a row. The sooner you file, the better your chances of receiving your refund quickly.

What should you expect this tax season? Read on for important deadlines, extension explanations and filing resources. 

Read more: Fact or fiction: The IRS will track payments over $600 from PayPal and Cash App in 2022

When is my 2021 tax return due in 2022? 

This year, the official deadline to file your taxes is April 18 — with the exception of taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts, who have until April 19 to file. As of now, this deadline is firm, but since it was extended in both 2020 and 2021, it’s possible the IRS could decide to do the same this year, as well. 

If you need more time to file, request an extension with Form 4868. If you’re approved, your last day to file your federal income tax return will be Oct. 17, 2022 — six months after the spring deadline. If you know you owe taxes, you’ll still need to pay an estimate before April 18, regardless of being granted a filing extension. It’s advisable to pay your due tax liability when you file Form 4868 to avoid penalties.

In most states, taxpayers who get a federal extension to file will automatically also receive an extension to file their state income tax return. 

Additionally, the IRS is recommending you file electronically when possible to avoid delays.

Read more: Don’t overlook these 13 tax deductions and credits in 2022

What happens if I miss the tax deadline?

Firstly, if you are owed a refund, there is no penalty for filing late, though this may be different for your state taxes. Still, it’s best to e-file or postmark your individual tax return as early as possible. 

If you owe the IRS, penalties and interest start to accrue on any remaining unpaid taxes after the filing deadline. The late-filing penalty is 5% of the taxes due for each month your return is behind, with fees increasing to up to 25% of your due balance after 60 days have passed. You may also incur a late-payment penalty, which is 0.5% of the taxes due for each month your return is late, with penalties increasing to up to 25% of your unpaid tax, depending on how long you take to file. 

Another caveat: If you’re serving in the military — in a combat zone or a contingency operation in support of the armed forces — you may be granted additional time to file, according to the IRS. 

How do I file my taxes online?

CNET has rounded up the best tax software, featuring vendors such as TurboTax, H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt. These companies can make the tax filing process much easier, from reporting your self-employed income to setting up direct deposit and helping with itemized deductions.

The IRS provides a list of free online tax prep software, IRS Free File, offered by many of those same providers. This service is available now and can be used if you meet certain criteria and have a relatively simple tax situation. It’s a good option if you make less than $72,000 annually, if you don’t itemize deductions and if you don’t own a business. 

However, if you want to itemize deductions or have a more complex financial situation — you run a business, have investments or generate rental income — you’ll have to pay for a higher tier of service, which can run a couple hundred dollars. Still, for most people, even the most deluxe online package is far less expensive than hiring an authorized tax pro. And if you prefer to keep it old-school, the IRS’ online tax forms handle some but not all of the calculations for you and still allow you to e-file or print and mail.


A number of online tax software providers will help you file for free.


When do I need to file my state taxes?

Your state tax return deadline is likely the same as the federal return deadline: April 18. (Last year, most states extended their deadlines to May 17 to match the federal government’s revised deadline.) In most states, taxpayers who are granted a federal extension to file should automatically receive an extension to file their state income tax return. 

Can I file my state taxes online?

Many states have their own online tax platforms, which are usually free to use. TurboTax, H&R Block and other online tax tools can also help you file your state return and can import most of the information from a federal return they’ve already prepared, though they usually charge a fee. Check out CNET’s comparison of tax software and services to see which is best for you.


Though tax day is usually April 15, this year it’s April 18. 

Angela Lang/CNET

When will I get my tax refund?

How quickly you can expect to see your refund depends on how you file, when you file, which payment method you choose and whether your taxes are 100% accurate. Filing online and earlier usually results in faster processing. The typical turnaround for electronic filers who choose to deposit their refund directly into their bank account ranges from one to three weeks. 

“Nine out of 10 will get a refund in 21 days — but one little mistake can hang your refund up for weeks or months,” says Mark Steber, chief tax information officer at Jackson Hewitt. “You could see a two to three month delay if you left something off, like the advance child tax credit payments, incorrect stimulus payment data and other missing or mismatched data that the IRS has compared to your tax return.”

Keep in mind, if part of your tax return includes the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit, the IRS cannot issue returns before mid-February, regardless of how soon you file.

Additionally, if you choose an e-collect direct deposit, where your tax preparer’s fee is deducted from your refund, it may add a few more days to your wait. And a paper check may take several weeks to arrive. 

Where do I send my taxes?

If you file online, there’s nothing to print out or mail, but we recommend you save an electronic copy for your records regardless. 

If you file on paper, you’ll need to mail your return to the IRS. The specific mailing address depends on which tax form you use and which state you live in. The IRS has published a list of where to file paper tax returns. Be warned, however, that processing paper returns often takes much longer. 

How do I send the IRS my tax payment?

If you’re mailing your tax payment, you can elect to have the funds withdrawn directly from your bank account or include a personal check or money order. If you choose the latter, make it payable to “US Treasury” and include your name, address, phone number, Social Security number or Individual Tax ID Number. Under no circumstances should you ever mail cash to the IRS.

Read moreHow to handle cryptocurrency on your taxes

How do I check the status of my refund?

The IRS website features a handy web-based tool that lets you check the status of your refund (electronic or paper). There’s also a mobile app, IRS2Go. You can usually access your refund status about 24 hours after e-filing or four weeks after mailing in a return. To check your status, you’ll need to provide your Social Security number or ITIN, filing status and the exact amount of your refund. If your status is “received,” the IRS has your return and is processing it. “Approved” means your refund is on its way.

I have questions about my taxes. Can I call the IRS?

While you can call the IRS, in a Jan. 10 press briefing the agency recommended turning to online resources over phone calls. Last year, the agency received 145 million calls between Jan. 1 and May 17 — more than four times the volume it receives in an average year. 

“Our phone volumes continue to remain at record-setting levels,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said. “We urge people to check IRS.gov and establish an online account to help them access information more quickly. We have invested in developing new online capacities to make this a quick and easy way for taxpayers to get the information they need.”

That said, if you do need to reach out to the IRS, there are numerous ways to contact the tax agency. The agency no longer offers live online chatting, but you can still submit questions through its online form. If you prefer to talk to a person, the IRS maintains a number of dedicated phone lines that are open Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (local time). Individuals can call 800-829-1040 and businesses can call 800-829-4933. 

And there’s always the Interactive Tax Assistant, an automated online tool that provides answers to a number of tax law questions. It can determine if a type of income is taxable, if you’re eligible to claim certain credits and whether you can deduct expenses on your tax return. It also provides answers for general questions, such as determining your filing status, whether you can claim dependents or if you even have to file a tax return.

If you have a question for the IRS specifically related to stimulus checks and your taxes, the IRS recommends that you check IRS.gov and the Get My Payment application. (We have more information on how to contact the IRS for missing stimulus check-related questions here.)

Where can I find help with my taxes?

You can find helpful and affordable assistance by choosing a provider from CNET’s roundup of the best tax software for 2022 or by talking to a qualified tax professional. 

The IRS does offer some free tax help, too. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is designed to offer guidance to people who make less than $54,000 per year, have disabilities or have limited facility with English. And the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program specializes in tax issues that affect people who are 60 or older. 

The IRS’ International Taxpayer Service Call Center remains available at 267-941-1000, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET.

Read moreHow to deduct your home office without an audit