IRS Announces 2020 Tax Filing Season Open

28 January 2020

The IRS has successfully opened the 2020 tax filing season as the Service began accepting and processing federal tax returns for tax year 2019. Further, the deadline to file 2019 tax returns and pay any tax owed is Wednesday, April 15, 2020. As a result of the tax filing season opening, the IRS has provided guidance and tips to individuals on filing their 2019 federal income tax returns. The IRS has expected more than 150 million individual tax returns to be filed for the 2019 tax year. Additionally, expecting more about 90 percent of individuals to file their returns electronically, the Service stated that filing electronically and choosing direct deposit remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate return and receive a refund.

Revised 2019 Form 1040 and Virtual Currency Transactions

Following a revision of Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, taxpayers will use fewer schedules to supplement the base Form 1040 as six schedules were consolidated into three numbered schedules for tax year 2019. Moreover, virtual currency being an important addition to the Form 1040 this year, taxpayers who engaged in a transaction involving virtual currency would be required to file Schedule 1, Additional Income and Adjustments To Income. Further, according to the Code and regulations, taxpayer are required to maintain records that support the information provided on the tax returns.

New Form 1040-SR

While all taxpayers are required to file Form 1040, taxpayers born before January 2, 1955, have an additional option to use the new Form 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors. Taxpayer aged 65 or older may use this new form to file their 2019 federal income tax return and file either electronically or mail a paper return. The Form 1040-SR generally mirrors the Form 1040.

Refunds

The IRS urged all taxpayers to ensure they have all their year-end statements in had before filing, to avoid refund delays. This includes Form W-2 from employers and Forms 1099 from banks and other payers. Although, the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, some tax returns may require additional review and take longer to process. This usually occurs when a return has errors, is incomplete or is affected by identity theft or fraud. In such cases, the IRS will contact taxpayers by mail when more information is needed to process a return. Further, the IRS reminded taxpayers that by law, the IRS cannot issue refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. This applies to the entire refund; even the portion not associated with the EITC or ACTC. Taxpayers wanting to track their tax refund could use the “Where’s My Refund?” option available on the IRS’s website within 24 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of an their e-filed return.

Expired ITINs

Many Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs), including those not used on a tax return at least once in the past three years and ITINs with middle digits 83, 84, 85, 86 or 87 expired on Dec. 31, 2019. The IRS has urged affected taxpayers to act soon by submitting renewal applications to avoid refund delays and possible loss of eligibility for some key tax benefits. Processing a complete and accurate ITIN renewal application can take up to 11 weeks.

Free Help Preparing and Filing Taxes

Finally, free help is available to taxpayers for preparing and filing taxes through IRS Free File online or free tax help from trained volunteers at community sites around the country. Moreover, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English-speaking taxpayers who need help preparing their own tax returns. In addition to VITA, the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors.

“The IRS reminds taxpayers there are many options to get help,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Our website has around the clock information available and is the fastest way to get assistance. We’ve made improvements to the Free File program and filing electronically with direct deposit remains the best way to speed refunds and minimize errors. As always, experts in the nation’s tax professional community stand ready to help people navigate their tax issues. And we also remind people our IRS-trained community volunteers are ready to help file tax returns in locations across the country.”