Tax Season Starting Early Amid COVID Hurdles, Direct Deposit Fastest Way for Refund

The Internal Revenue Service is kicking off its tax filing season on January 24, 2022, 17 days earlier than it did in 2020, the agency announced Monday.

As the IRS warned that an uptick in COVID-19 infections and receiving less funding authorization from Congress than was requested could add more hurdles into the filing season, Commissioner Chuck Rettig urged people to help mitigate additional delays by filing their returns electronically and using direct deposit to receive their refunds.

"The pandemic continues to create challenges, but the IRS reminds people there are important steps they can take to help ensure their tax return and refund don't face processing delays," Rettig said.

Part of the IRS' struggles this tax filing season may stem from a workforce that hasn't grown in proportion to the U.S. population. Rettig said in an op-ed published by the Washington Post in November that the agency's workforce is the same size as it was in 1970, even as the U.S. population has increased by 60 percent and "the complexity of the economy has increased exponentially."

"IRS employees want to do more to help taxpayers. We want to be able to answer the phones and respond to questions. We want to be ready, when the next national crisis hits, to deliver economic relief quickly—as our employees have worked long hours to do during the pandemic," he wrote.

"But to do all this, we need help. We desperately need sufficient resources to be able to appropriately serve and support you and our country," he added, and urged Congress to pass the Biden administration's IRS funding increase proposal in full.

IRS Building
The Internal Revenue Service is kicking off its tax-filing season on January 24, 2022, 17 days earlier than it did in 2020, the agency announced. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building stands on April 15, 2019, in Washington, DC. Zach Gibson/Getty Images

This year, it is also important for taxpayers who received a COVID-19 relief Economic Impact Payment last year or who got an advance Child Tax Credit payment to make sure they report the correct amount on their tax returns to avoid processing delays, Rettig said.

The IRS will send letters to recipients of the impact payments and the advance Child Tax Credit payments and taxpayers can also check for the amounts they received on the website IRS.gov.

The deadline for tax returns and extension requests to be filed is April 18 this year, three days later than the normal April 15 deadline for filing taxes. The later date is a result of a Emancipation Holiday in the District of Columbia. By law, Washington, D.C., holidays impact tax deadlines for everyone the same way federal holidays do.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tax Forms
Part of the IRS' struggles this tax filing season may stem from a workforce that hasn't grown in proportion to the U.S. population. Above, IRS 1040 Tax forms are shown in paper and electronic filing formats. Robert Barnes/Moment Mobile ED