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Steps to Take Now to Get a Jump on Your Taxes

Tax planning is for everyone. Get ready today to file your 2021 federal income tax return. Planning ahead can help you file an accurate return and avoid processing delays that can slow your tax refund.

Try to view your account online. The IRS recommends it!

Use online account  to securely access the latest information available about your federal tax account and see information from your most recently filed tax return on IRS.gov.

You can:

  • View the amounts of the Economic Impact Payments you received
  • Access Child Tax Credit Update portal  for information about advance Child Tax Credit payments
  • View key data from your most recent tax return and access additional records and transcripts
  • View details of your payment plan if you have one
  • View 5 years of payment history and any pending or scheduled payments

Act now if you need to create an account.

Gather and organize your tax records

Organized tax records make preparing a complete and accurate tax return easier. It helps you avoid errors that lead to processing delays that slow your refund and may also help you find overlooked deductions or credits.

Wait to file until you have your tax records including:

Notify the IRS if your address changes and notify the Social Security Administration of a legal name change.

Remember, most income is taxable. This includes:

Check your Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)

An ITIN only needs to be renewed if it has expired and is needed on a U.S. federal tax return.

If your ITIN wasn’t included on a U.S. federal tax return at least once for tax years 2018, 2019, and 2020, your ITIN will expire on December 31, 2021.

As a reminder, ITINs with middle digits 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, or 88 have expired. In addition, ITINs with middle digits 90, 91, 92, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, or 99, IF assigned before 2013, have expired. If you previously submitted a renewal application and it was approved, you do not need to renew again.

Make sure that you have withheld enough tax

Consider adjusting your withholding if you owed taxes or received a large refund last year. Changing your withholding can help you avoid a tax bill or let you keep more money each payday. Life changes – getting married or divorced, welcoming a child, or taking on a second job – may also mean changing withholding.

Use the Tax Withholding Estimator to help you determine the right amount of tax to have withheld from your paycheck. This tool on IRS.gov will help determine if you need to adjust your withholding and submit a new Form W-4 to your employer.

Consider estimated tax payments. If you receive a substantial amount of non-wage income like self-employment income, investment income, taxable Social Security benefits and in some instances, pension and annuity income you should make quarterly estimated tax payments, with the last payment for 2021 due on January 18, 2022.

Log in to your online account to make a payment online or go to IRS.gov/payments.

Get banked to speed tax refunds with direct deposit

The fastest way for you to get your tax refund is by choosing direct deposit.

Direct deposit gives you access to your refund faster than a paper check. Don’t have a bank account? Check how to open a bank account through ACA (American Citizens Abroad), if you live abroad.

Claim Recovery Rebate Credit

Individuals who didn’t qualify for third Economic Impact Payments or did not receive the full amount may be eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit based on their 2021 tax situation.

If you’re eligible, you’ll need to file a 2021 tax return even if you don’t usually file to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit and you didn’t get the full amount of the third Economic Impact Payment. ($1,400)

The first and second rounds of Economic Impact Payments were issued in 2020 and early 2021. The first two rounds of Economic Impact Payments were advance payments of the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit claimed on a 2020 tax return.

The third round of Economic Impact Payments was issued starting in March 2021 and continue through December 2021. The third round of Economic Impact Payments, including the plus-up payments, were advance payments of the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit claimed on a 2021 tax return.

Your Online Account

Securely access your individual tax information with an IRS online account to view your first, second and third Economic Impact Payment amounts under the related tax year tab.

IRS letters: IRS mailed these letters to the address they have on file.

  • Notice 1444: Shows the first Economic Impact Payment advanced for tax year 2020
  • Notice 1444-B: Shows the second Economic Impact Payment advanced for tax year 2020
  • Notice 1444-C: Shows the third Economic Impact Payment advanced for tax year 2021

Letter 6475: In early 2022, we’ll send this letter confirming the total amount of the third Economic Impact Payment and any plus-up payments you received for tax year 2021.

Avoid refund delay and understand refund timing

Many different factors can affect the timing of your refund after the IRS receives your return. Although the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, the IRS cautions taxpayers not to rely on receiving a refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying bills. Some returns may require additional review and may take longer. For example, the IRS, along with its partners in the tax industry, continue to strengthen security reviews to help protect against identity theft and refund fraud. Additionally, refunds for people claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) can’t be issued before mid-February. The law requires the IRS to hold the entire refund − even the portion not associated with EITC or ACTC.

Some returns, filed electronically or on paper, may need manual review delaying the processing if our systems detect a possible error, is missing information, or there is suspected identity theft or fraud. Some of these situations require us to correspond with taxpayers, but some do not. This work does require special handling by an IRS employee so, in these instances, it may take the IRS more than the normal 21 days to issue any related refund. In those cases where IRS is able to correct the return without corresponding, the IRS will send an explanation to the taxpayer.

Use MilTax if you’re a service member or qualifying veteran

Members of the armed forces and some veterans may take advantage of MilTax. This free tax resource is available for the military community, offered through the Department of Defense. There are no income limits. MilTax includes tax preparation and electronic filing software, personalized support from tax consultants and current information about filing taxes. It’s designed to address the realities of military life – including deployments, combat and training pay, housing and rentals and multi-state filings. Eligible taxpayers can use MilTax to electronically file a federal tax return and up to three state returns for free.

Find a tax professional

You have several options to help find a tax preparer. One resource is Choosing a Tax Professional, which offers a wealth of information for selecting a tax professional. There are various types of tax return preparers, including enrolled agents, certified public accountants, attorneys and some who don’t have a professional credential.

The Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications can help you find preparers in your area who currently hold professional credentials recognized by the IRS, or who hold an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion.