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Tax Preparation Tips for Filing Your 2021 Return in 2022

Get Ready to File Your 2021 Federal Tax Return By April 18, 2022

The 2022 tax filing season us coming up, so it’s time to make sure you’re ready to file your 2021 income tax return (Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR) by the April 18 deadline.

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“Planning for the nation’s filing season process is a massive undertaking, and IRS teams have been working non-stop these past several months to prepare,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “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. Filing electronically with direct deposit and avoiding a paper tax return is more important than ever this year. And we urge extra attention to those who received an Economic Impact Payment or an advance Child Tax Credit last year. People should make sure they report the correct amount on their tax return to avoid delays.”

This article covers some important tax tips and information to help you stay prepared for the upcoming tax season.

Tax Preparation Tips for Your 2021 Return

Here are 5 tax preparation tips for your 2021 taxes:

Use a Tax Prep Checklist to Get Organized

A tax preparation checklist is the best way to stay organized and make sure that you have everything ready for filing your taxes. If you use a checklist, you’re less likely to miss any details or be rushed/stressed when tax time arrives. It also helps you see what you’ve done and what else still needs to be taken care of.

Know Your Tax Deadlines

The IRS announced that the tax season will start on Monday, January 24, 2022. This is the date when the IRS will begin accepting and processing 2021 tax year returns.

For most taxpayers, the filing deadline to submit 2021 tax returns (or an extension to file) and pay tax owed is Monday, April 18, 2022. The due date is April 18 (instead of the usual April 15) because of the Emancipation Day holiday in Washington, D.C. for everyone except taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts.

NOTE: Taxpayers in Maine or Massachusetts have until Tuesday, April 19, 2022 to file their returns due to the Patriots’ Day holiday in those states.

Individuals who request a tax extension (using Form 4868) will have until Monday, October 17, 2022, to file their 2021 return.

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RELATED: Key Tax Numbers & Dates for 2022

Find Any Tax Breaks You’re Eligible For

Save as much money as possibly by making sure you’re aware of any tax credits, tax deductions, and other tax breaks you’re qualified to claim on your tax return. This includes commonly used tax breaks such as:

  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC)
  • Education tax breaks, like the Student Loan Interest Deduction
  • Healthcare tax breaks, like the Premium Tax Credit
  • Homeowner tax breaks

There have also been a number of federal tax breaks for COVID-relief, most of which are temporary. This includes the Recovery Rebate Credit, the tax exclusion for unemployment compensation, the tax deduction for charitable contributions, and the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC). Make sure to check that you qualify for a particular tax break before you claim it on your federal return (Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR).

RELATED: Common Tax Questions & Answers

Gather Your Personal and/or Business Information

The IRS “encourages everyone to have all the information they need in hand to make sure they file a complete and accurate return. Having an accurate tax return can avoid processing delays, refund delays and later IRS notices. This is especially important for people who received advance Child Tax Credit payments or Economic Impact Payments (American Rescue Plan stimulus payments) in 2021; they will need the amounts of these payments when preparing their tax return. The IRS is mailing special letters to recipients, and they can also check amounts received on IRS.gov.”

Decide Whether to E-File Online or File By Paper/Mail

You can electronically file (“e-file”) your tax return online or you can fill out a paper tax return and send it to the IRS by mail. Filing online is usually easier and faster – just make sure you use a reputable authorized IRS e-file Provider.

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To speed refunds, the IRS urges taxpayers to file electronically with Direct Deposit information (for a faster tax refund) as soon as they have everything they need to file an accurate return. If the return includes errors or is incomplete, it may require further review that may slow your tax refund. Having all information available when preparing your 2021 tax return can reduce errors and avoid delays in processing.

Most individual taxpayers file IRS Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR once they receive Forms W-2 and other earnings information from their employers, issuers like state agencies, and payers. The IRS has incorporated recent changes to the tax laws into the forms and instructions. Forms 1040 and 1040-SR and the associated instructions are available now on IRS.gov. For the latest IRS forms and instructions, please visit the IRS website.

The IRS reminds people that, like last year, there will be individuals filing tax returns who (even though they are not required to file) need to file a 2021 return to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit to receive the tax credit from the 2021 stimulus payments or reconcile advance payments of the Child Tax Credit. People who don’t normally file also could receive other tax benefits it they file a 2021 tax return.

RELATED: How to Prepare Your Federal Income Tax Return


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