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On the radar: 2020 tax filing season runs January 27-April 15

On January 6, the IRS announced that the 2020 tax filing season would open on January 27. This year’s season is likely to be smoother than last year’s. There are far fewer and less complicated changes in tax law this year that could delay filing for individuals. Also, in 2020 the end of the filing season will not be as subject to the vagaries of the calendar. It ends on Wednesday, April 15 for most filers. This year Massachusetts and Maine residents won’t get the extra day they often do because the states’ observance of Patriots Day falls on Monday, April 20. The same is the case for Washington, DC where Emancipation Day will be observed on Thursday, April 16 and thus not interfere with official functions that would lead to the IRS to give District residents another day.

In a typical year, the first wave of refunds sent out in early February on average tend to be the largest as taxpayers expecting a refund will naturally file as soon as possible. The average dollar amount of refunds for tax year 2018 started out below normal, but quickly rose to more typical sizes. For some years there was a gap the average size of refunds delivered via direct deposit versus those sent out by check. However, these have largely converged with the rise of online banking and electronic filing which make direct deposit the fastest way to get refunds.

E-file now accounts for about 95% of all returns filed by the end of the season. Those who file early are more likely to file electronically, and more likely to take their refund via direct deposit. While those who owe taxes – or are worried they do – are also widely file electronically, they are also more likely to wait until April to file.

The first reports of filing season statistics should be around the start of the second week in February.

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