MoneyLife

When’s the Earliest You Can File 2020 Taxes?

By Anna Yen
Earliest You Can File 2020 Taxes

Is filing your tax return burning a hole through your “to-do” list? Are you expecting a refund this year? If so, you’ll be happy to know that the IRS began accepting tax returns on February 12, 2021. But what should you do if you are still waiting for your W-2 or other tax documents?  Even if you are still waiting to get all of your paperwork, you can still take steps to prepare your tax return. 

Book your tax filing appointment 

The pandemic has changed how we do just about everything in our lives. So if you plan to work with a tax preparer this year, expect a different experience. Social distancing may force them to limit the number of in-person visits they offer. Or, they may have virtual appointments only. Instead of dropping off an envelope with your tax papers, you may be asked to upload documents digitally. 

Filing your tax return this year may be a challenge. If you have an unusual tax situation or a change in dependents, it’s a good idea to reach out to your tax preparer as soon as possible to avoid filing delays.

Gather your tax documents

Whether you visit a tax preparer or prepare your return on your own, you can speed up the process by having all of the documents you need to file your tax return. If you have a job, be sure to have your W-2.

Those who are self-employed should gather all business receipts and mileage records. If you own your home or have a personal loan, make sure you’ve set aside any year-end documents sent to you. Other vital forms include student loan documents and charitable donation receipts. 

Do I have to pay taxes on my stimulus checks?

You do not have to pay taxes on your stimulus check. These payments are an advance of the recovery rebate credit, so they aren’t considered income. 

On the other hand, unemployment benefits are taxable in most cases. Find out if your unemployment benefits are taxable by visiting the Internal Revenue Service.

When will I get my tax refund?

When you are due a tax refund, it can take up to three weeks before it hits your bank account. 

But if you claim certain credits on your tax return, it can take even longer to get your refund. 

Given the rise in identity theft and fraud, the PATH Act was passed to protect taxpayers. Under the Act, the IRS has additional time to review credits that may be subject to fraudulent activity, such as the earned income tax credit (EITC) and the additional child tax credit (ACTC). 

If you expect to claim these credits on your tax return, it’s helpful to file your tax return as early as you can. Even though you’ll have a delay in getting your refund, it will hit your bank account faster than if you wait to file.

The quickest way to get your tax refund is direct deposit into your bank account. If you don’t have a bank account, you can open a RoarMoney bank account in just minutes, for just $1/ month. All you have to do is download the MoneyLion app and answer a few questions. Not only is there no credit check or minimum balance required, but you get great perks such as daily rewards on spending, price protection, and receive your paycheck two days early. 

What if I need an extension?

If you can’t file your tax return by the April 15 deadline, you can request a six-month extension. 

When you extend, you can get extra time to prepare and send in your tax return. 

What this doesn’t do is extend the time you have to pay any taxes you owe. Those are due by April 15. If you extend your tax return and then find out you owe taxes, you will be charged penalties and interest on the amount you owe.

You can get additional time to file your tax return when you;

  • Complete and mail Form 4868 to the Internal Revenue Service. 
  • E-file your extension through the IRs website or online tax software
  • Ask your tax preparer to file an extension for you

Just be sure that you extend your tax return no later than April 15. 

If you are strapped for cash, use RoarMoney’s Instacash to get a quick cash advance to pay your tax preparation fees, so you don’t have to extend your tax return. Instacash gives you immediate access to funds at 0% interest. 

What if I am missing a W-2?

When you are missing a W-2, you should contact your employer for a copy. If you don’t receive this by the end of February, you can call the IRS for help. They will also send you Form 4852 Substitute for Form W-2, Wage or Tax Statement, along with instructions on how to complete this form.  

Even if you can’t get a copy of your W-2, you are still required to file your tax return by April 15. If you have your last paycheck stub for the year, use this information to fill out this substitute form. You can estimate the information if it’s not available. 

Get your tax refund by filing early

If you are getting a tax refund or just want to get your tax filing out of the way, the IRS started accepting 2020 tax returns on February 12, 2021. Even if you haven’t received all of your year-end tax documents, you can still get yourself ready to file your tax return. Chase down missing documents so that you can file your tax return as soon as possible.

If you are looking for a budget-friendly way to file your taxes online, visit 1040.com. No matter how much money you make, you pay only $25 to file your tax return.

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