The IRS announced Monday that the nation’s tax season will start on Monday, Jan. 24 when the IRS will begin accepting and processing returns for the 2021 tax year. 

The Jan. 24 start date for individual tax return filers allows the IRS time to perform programming and testing that is critical to ensuring IRS systems run smoothly.  

IRS Free File will open Jan. 14 when participating providers will accept completed returns and hold them until they can be filed electronically with the IRS. Many commercial tax preparation software companies and tax professionals will also be accepting and preparing tax returns before Jan. 24 to submit the returns when the IRS systems open. 

The filing deadline to submit 2021 tax returns or an extension to file and pay tax owed is Monday, April 18 for most taxpayers. By law, Washington, D.C., holidays impact tax deadlines for everyone in the same way federal holidays do. The due date is April 18, instead of April 15, because of the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia.  

Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Monday, Oct. 17 to file. 

In addition to IRS.gov, the IRS has a variety of other free options available to help taxpayers, ranging from free assistance at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly locations across the country to the availability of the IRS Free File program. 

The IRS urges taxpayers and tax professionals to file electronically. Paper returns can lead to processing delays and should be avoided whenever possible, the IRS said. 

More than 160 million individual tax returns for the 2021 tax year are expected to be filed, with the vast majority of those coming before the traditional April tax deadline. Overall, the IRS anticipates most taxpayers will receive their refund within 21 days of when they file electronically if they choose direct deposit and there are no issues with their tax return.