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2021 tax filing season set to begin February 12

The IRS will begin accepting and processing 2020 tax year returns on Friday, Feb.12, 2021.

People who are ready to file can begin filing their tax returns with tax prep software, including IRS Free File. Software providers are accepting completed tax returns now and holding them until the IRS begins processing returns on Friday, Feb.12. The quickest way for taxpayers to get a tax refund is by filing electronically and choosing direct deposit for their refund.

Most earned income tax credit or advanced child tax credit related refunds should be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards by the first week of March, if they choose direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return.

By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds before mid-February for tax returns that claim the earned income tax credit or ACTC. The IRS must hold the entire refund — even the portion not associated with EITC or ACTC. This helps ensure taxpayers receive the refund they deserve and gives the agency more time to detect and prevent errors and fraud.

To make filing easier, taxpayers should:

  • File electronically and use direct deposit for the quickest refunds.
  • Check IRS.gov for the latest tax information. There is no need to call the IRS.

Those who may have been eligible for stimulus payments should carefully review their eligibility for the recovery rebate credit. Most people received Economic Impact Payments automatically and those who received the maximum amount don’t need to include any information about their payments when they file.

They received the full amounts of both Economic Impact Payments if:

  • Their first Economic Impact Payment was $1,200 for individuals; $2,400 married filing jointly for 2020, plus $500 for each qualifying child born in 2020.
  • Their second Economic Impact Payment was $600 for individuals; $1,200 married filing jointly for 2020, plus $600 for each qualifying child born in 2020.

People who didn’t receive the payments or only received partial payments may be eligible to claim the recovery rebate credit when they file their 2020 tax return, even if they are normally not required to file a tax return. Tax preparation software, including IRS Free File, will help taxpayers figure the amount.

Taxpayers should remember that stimulus payments they received are not taxable, and don’t reduce the amount of their refund.

Important filing season dates

Friday, Feb. 12. IRS begins 2021 tax season. Individual tax returns start being accepted, and processing begins.
Thursday, April 15. Due date for filing 2020 tax returns or requesting extension of time to file.
Thursday, April 15. Due date for paying 2020 tax owed to avoid owing interest and penalties.
Friday, Oct. 15. Due date to file for those requesting an extension on their 2020 tax returns.

Millions of taxpayers will receive their second Economic Impact Payments by debit card

The Treasury Department and the IRS are issuing millions of second Economic Impact Payments by prepaid debit card to speed delivery of the payments to as many people as possible.

If the Get My Payment tool on IRS.gov shows a date that a recipient’s payment was mailed, they should watch their mail for either a paper check or debit card. The debit cards arrive in a white envelope that prominently displays the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal.

The prepaid debit card, called the Economic Impact Payment card, is issued by Treasury’s financial agent, MetaBank®, N.A. The IRS does not determine who receives a card.


The form of payment for the second mailed EIP may be different than the first mailed EIP. Some people who received a paper check last time might receive a prepaid debit card this time, and some people who received a prepaid debit card last time may receive a paper check.

EIP Cards are safe, convenient and secure
These cards provide certain protections against fraud, loss and other errors. They can be used to make purchases online or in stores anywhere Visa® Debit Cards are accepted.

Cardholders can also use the cards to do any of the following without paying a fee:

  • Transfer funds to a personal bank account
  • Make signature or PIN-debit purchases anywhere Visa Debit
  • Cards are accepted — in stores, online or over the phone
  • Get cash back with a PIN debit purchase where available
  • Get cash from in-network ATMs
  • Get a replacement EIP Card, if needed
  • Check their card balance online, through a mobile app or by phone

People should watch their mail carefully
EIP Cards are being sent in a white envelope that prominently displays the U.S. Department of the Treasury seal. The envelope also states “Not a bill or an advertisement. Important information about your Economic Impact Payment.” The EIP Card has the Visa name on the front of the card and the issuing bank name, MetaBank®, N.A. on the back. Each mailing will include instructions on how to securely activate and use the EIP Card. These cards are being issued to eligible recipients across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Residents of the western United States are generally more likely to receive an EIP Card.

People can check the status of their payment using the Get My Payment tool on IRS.gov.

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