What the IRS wants you to know about the upcoming tax season


You will again have a few extra days to file your taxes next year.

The deadline for 2016 tax returns will be Tuesday, April 18, rather than the usual deadline of April 15, the Internal Revenue Service announced late Friday.

The deadline for 2015 returns was also April 18.

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Next year, April 15 falls on a Saturday, which would normally push the deadline back to the next business day, Monday, April 17. But Emancipation Day — a legal holiday in Washington, D.C., that falls on April 16 — will be observed on April 17, pushing the deadline back to April 18.

Check out our guide to the most commonly used tax forms:

Despite the three extra days, the IRS is urging taxpayers to start preparing for tax season ahead of time.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen says in the federal agency's announcement:

"For this tax season, it's more important than ever for taxpayers to plan ahead. People should make sure they have their year-end tax statements in hand, and we encourage people to file as they normally would..."

That's partly due to a new law that requires the IRS to hold refunds until Feb. 15 for taxpayers who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit. But after "factoring in weekends and the President's Day holiday," which falls on Monday, Feb. 20, the IRS cautions that those taxpayers may not have access to their refunds until the week of Feb. 27 next year.

Other details from the IRS announcement that taxpayers should be aware of include that:

  • The tax season officially starts on Jan. 23 next year, whether you file electronically or on paper. Many software companies and tax professionals will accept returns before then, though, and submit them for you when the IRS starts accepting them.

  • You should keep copies of your prior-year tax returns for at least three years. If you are switching to a new tax software product for your 2016 taxes, remember that you will need to know your 2015 adjusted gross income.

  • Seventy percent of taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File. It provides individuals and families earning $64,000 or less with free brand-name tax software. To learn more, visit the IRS' Free File page.

  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offer free tax help to qualifying taxpayers. To learn more or to find a VITA or TCE location near you, visit the IRS' "Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers" page.

  • More than 9 out of 10 refunds are expected to be issued in fewer than 21 days. Filing electronically and choosing to receive your refund via direct deposit is "the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund."

  • The IRS' "Where's My Refund?" tool, available for free on the agency's website and app, is the best way to check the status of your refund.

Do you feel ready for tax season? Let us know below or on Facebook.

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