Top things all taxpayers need to remember when filing their 2021 tax return

COVID Tax Tip 2022-21, February 8, 2022

Now that the filing season has begun, there are several key items all taxpayers should keep in mind when filing their federal income tax returns this year.

Here's a checklist to help file an accurate tax return, avoid processing delays and speed up refund delivery.

Use online resources before calling the IRS. The IRS urges people to use to get answers to tax questions, check a refund status or pay taxes. There's no wait time or appointment needed — online tools and resources are available 24 hours a day.

The IRS has several ways for taxpayers to stay up to date on important tax information. They can:

Collect all documents before preparing a tax return. Collect W-2s, Form 1099s and other income-related statements. People who need to reconcile advance child tax credit payments or claim the recovery rebate credit will need additional information when they file.

Individuals must have the total amounts of advance child tax credit payments to receive the remainder of their child tax credit and the amounts of their third Economic Impact Payment to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit. Taxpayers should check their online account or review Letter 6419, 2021 Total Advance Child Tax Credit Payments, and Letter 6475, Your 2021 Economic Impact Payment, for their total payment amounts to help them file an accurate return. If married taxpayers received payments based on a joint return, each spouse received half of the payments. Each spouse can find their payment total in their own online account or letter. They should add the payments together to provide the total amount.

File an accurate return electronically and have any refund direct deposited. Taxpayers should electronically file and choose direct deposit when they have everything they need to file an accurate return. Taxpayers have many choices, including using a tax professional. Tax software guides people through each section of their tax return using a question-and-answer format. Enter information return carefully. This includes any information needed to calculate credits and deductions. Using tax software should help prevent math errors, but taxpayers should always review their tax return for accuracy.

Free tax preparation and e-file options are available for qualifying taxpayers. These include IRS Free File, MilTax for military service members and some veterans, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs.

Waiting on a 2020 tax return to be processed? To validate and successfully submit an electronically filed tax return to the IRS, taxpayers need their adjusted gross income, from their most recent tax return. Generally, tax software automatically enters the information for returning customers. People using a software product for the first time, may have to enter this information. For those waiting on their 2020 tax return to be processed, enter $0 for last year's AGI on the 2021 tax return. Those who used a non-filer tool in 2021 to register for an advance child tax credit or third Economic Impact Payment in 2021, should enter $1 as their prior year AGI.

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