The 2022 Tax Season Has Started — Tips to Help You File an Accurate Return

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IRS offers tips on how taxpayers can prepare to accurately complete their tax return, answer tax software questions or provide information to a tax professional when filing.

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ACL Tax Filing Season Loading

By Ken Corbin
CL-22-03, January 24, 2022

Planning for the nation's filing season process is a massive undertaking, and IRS teams have worked non-stop getting ready for the 2022 filing season. The IRS started accepting 2021 tax returns on Jan. 24, 2022. Our filing season preparation began early last year and included extensive planning and real-time collaboration inside and outside the IRS. The efforts of our workforce, along with the important work done by our partners in the tax community and the software and financial industry, make it possible for the IRS to be ready to process 2021 tax returns and issue refunds this year.

It’s important to all of us at the IRS that each taxpayer’s experience is one that meets their needs and preferences. We want to ensure that everyone understands the importance of filing electronically and choosing direct deposit, and we want people to know what they need to claim credits and deductions they may be eligible for when they file. Our goal is to provide information for the 2022 filing season to help people accurately complete their tax return, answer tax software questions or provide information to a tax professional when filing.

The IRS is committed to processing the remaining individual 2020 tax returns as soon as we can. IRS employees have been working around the clock, and we are making progress during this unprecedented period. We also continue responding to correspondence and helping taxpayers by phone or in person as much as possible. We also have continued to do additional work, such as making adjustments related to 2020 unemployment compensation which will help save people the need to file an amended tax return.

At the start of this tax season, the IRS has a large inventory of tax returns waiting to be processed due to several factors, including the pandemic. For example, the IRS is correcting significantly more errors on 2020 tax returns than in previous years. More than 10 million electronically filed returns contained errors requiring a manual review of the return information. However, accurate returns filed electronically were mostly processed automatically, with refunds out the door within 21 days for those using direct deposit. We’re using what we learned last year to lay the groundwork for this year so that we can help individuals avoid processing errors. Out of the nearly 168 million 2020 tax returns we received, as of December 4, 2021, we had 6.7 million unprocessed individual returns and 2.6 million unprocessed Forms 1040-X. We are processing these returns in the order received and working hard to get through the inventory.

We recognize how anxious people are if their tax return has not finished processing. For those who have received a letter from us, please reply promptly. We appreciate people’s patience as we see the light at the end of a long tunnel, as the IRS has faced a historically difficult time with too few resources and the challenge of a global pandemic. But we remain committed to doing all that we can to help the American people.

Steps to make tax filing easier in 2022

Tax planning is important for everyone, including people who traditionally don’t file a tax return. The IRS and our tax partners have been delivering communications and conducting outreach that urge people to think ahead about the information they will need to file complete and accurate tax returns.

Each fall, the IRS launches a “Get Ready for Taxes” campaign that encourages taxpayers to prepare to file, including what actions to take before filing season begins, what to know before filing, and how to get help. There are also messages about gathering tax records, understanding changes related to the tax year and finding online resources and tools that can help answer questions.

Some key tips to file a complete and accurate 2021 tax return include:

  • Gather all necessary records, such as W-2s, 1099s, receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support an item of income, or a deduction or credit, appearing on a tax return
  • Develop a system that keeps all important information together, including a software program for electronic records or a file cabinet for paper documents in labeled folders. Having all records readily at hand makes preparing a tax return easier
  • Compile all year-end income documents, such as Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income; Form 1099-INT, Interest Income; Form 1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation; Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments, like unemployment compensation or state tax refund; and Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statements
  • Taxpayers should wait to have all 2021 tax information before filing to avoid a processing delay that could slow down a tax refund.

In addition to organizing tax records, a special page on, outlines steps taxpayers can take to prepare to file a 2021 tax return. This includes information about viewing or creating an Online Account; it’s now easier for more taxpayers to use Online Account with our new identity verification process. In addition, this page also explains how to make sure there’s been enough tax withheld, and how to set up a bank account, if needed, so a tax refund can be direct deposited.

What’s new and what to consider when filing in 2022

Most people generally only interact with the IRS when they file their individual income tax return, and certain people haven’t had to file returns in the past but need to now because of new stimulus and tax credit payments. This year it’s critically important to be well-informed and prepared, and we’re here to help.

Filing a 2021 tax return, even if you don’t have to, could put money in your pocket. While people with income under a certain amount aren't generally required to file a tax return, those who qualify for certain tax credits or already paid some federal income tax by having taxes withheld from a paycheck may qualify for a tax refund available only by filing a return.

Electronic filing and direct deposit are the way to go for the fastest refund. Filing electronically with direct deposit and avoiding a paper tax return is more important than ever this year to avoid refund delays. If you need a tax refund quickly, do not file on paper – use software, a trusted tax professional or Free File on For people with no issues with the tax return, the IRS anticipates most taxpayers will receive their refund within 21 days of when they file electronically if they choose direct deposit.

Reconcile advance Child Tax Credit payments. If you received advance payments, you need to file a 2021 tax return. You will need to compare the advance Child Tax Credit payments that you received with the amount of the Child Tax Credit that you can properly claim on your 2021 tax return. This includes people who successfully used the Non-Filer tool in 2021. In January 2022, the IRS will send you Letter 6419 with the total amount of advance Child Tax Credit payments that you received in 2021. To avoid a processing delay, you will need the total amount and should watch for your Letter 6419 from the IRS before you file. If you don’t have a letter or you have questions about the amount you received, you can see the total advance Child Tax Credit payment amount using your IRS Online Account. Please make sure you review this information closely. See Reconciling Your Advance Child Tax Credit Payments on Your 2021 Tax Return for more information.

Claim a Recovery Rebate Credit (stimulus payment). Individuals who didn't qualify for the third Economic Impact Payment or did not receive the full amount may be eligible for the Recovery Rebate Credit based on their 2021 tax situation. Those eligible will need to file a 2021 tax return, even if they don't usually file, to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit and they will need the total amount of their third Economic Impact Payment, including any supplemental or “plus-up” payments, to file their return accurately and avoid a processing delay that may delay their refund. In early 2022, the IRS will send out Letter 6475 to provide the total amount of the third Economic Impact Payments that individuals received. Individuals can also get this information by logging in to their IRS Online Account with their existing account or their IRS online account username to securely access their Economic Impact Payment amounts. For more information, see Recovery Rebate Credit.

The IRS saw many millions more errors on 2020 tax returns than in previous years, including those requiring special handling by an IRS employee, to correct the Recovery Rebate Credit amount. That’s why we’re highlighting how critical it is to have the total amount of the tax year 2021 third Economic Impact Payments and advance payments of the Child Tax Credit in addition to normal income documents.

What to do if your tax return from 2020 is still being processed. People whose tax returns from 2020 have not yet been processed can still file their 2021 tax returns. For anyone in this group filing electronically, here’s a critical point: taxpayers need their Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI, from their most recent tax return when they file electronically. For those waiting on their 2020 tax return to be processed, make sure you enter $0 (zero dollars) for last year’s AGI on the 2021 tax return.

Remember - unemployment compensation is taxable. Millions of Americans received unemployment compensation last year, and it’s fully taxable in 2021. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 allowed an exclusion of unemployment compensation of up to $10,200 for 2020 only. Remember for 2022, if no federal income tax is withheld from unemployment payments, it could mean an estimated tax payment should be made. For more information, review Tax Topic 418, Unemployment Compensation and Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income, on

Bookmark online tools and resources. A wealth of tax information and tools are available 24/7, 365 days a year on, so make it your first stop to get answers to tax questions, check a refund status or pay taxes. There’s no wait time or appointment needed; our online tools and resources are available anytime.

We know that work remains for us, and I’m so proud of the dedication of our employees as that work continues and the new tax season begins.

As we continue to make the safety of our employees and those we serve a top priority, we do expect that as we enter 2022, we will see challenges continue with the need to socially distance at call sites and processing centers, and also hiring and training employees to work safely in a socially-distant, pandemic work environment. So, to ensure your tax return speeds right along, please use the tips and information we’ve shared and use all of the resources available to you.

On behalf of the employees of the IRS, thank you for filing.

Ken Corbin
IRS Wage and Investment Commissioner and Chief Taxpayer Experience Officer

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About the Author

Ken Corbin is IRS’ first Chief Taxpayer Experience Officer. In this role, he’s working to unify and expand efforts across the agency to improve the customer experience for all citizens interacting with the IRS.

Ken is also Commissioner of the Wage and Investment Division, with responsibility for 37,000 employees, located across the country, who are administering tax laws governing individual U.S. wage earners.


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