To the relief of millions of Americans expecting tax refunds in the next few months, the IRS and the Trump administration recently announced that the start of tax season and the issuance of tax refunds would not be affected by the government shutdown, even if it lasts well into the start of tax season.
If you're wondering when you'll be able to file your taxes, or if you want to know when you can expect your tax refund to appear in your bank account, here's a rundown of the latest available information from the IRS regarding 2019's tax season.
The start of tax season
There has been rampant speculation that the start of tax season would be delayed in 2019 due to the government shutdown, but that doesn't appear to be the case. The IRS just announced that it would start processing tax returns on Jan. 28, 2019, which is consistent with the start of tax season in recent years.
To be clear, Americans can start submitting their tax returns as soon as they have all of the necessary information to do so. In fact, it's a good idea to file your return as early as possible in order to minimize the risk of identity theft. However, the IRS will not begin processing any tax returns until Jan. 28.
Will refunds come on time?
That's the million-dollar question. Historically, the IRS has said that it would not pay tax refunds during a government shutdown. With no end to the current government shutdown in sight, there has been widespread concern that refunds could be significantly delayed. This could be a big blow to the U.S. economy, as tax refunds injected over $147 billion into Americans' pockets in early 2018.
However, the White House specifically said on Monday that the IRS would be allowed to pay tax refunds during the shutdown. Shortly after, the IRS confirmed this in a newsletter, stating that it would provide refunds to taxpayers as scheduled. According to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, "We are committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive their refunds notwithstanding the government shutdown."
Adding a bit more color to the Trump administration's remarks, the IRS said that it would be recalling a "significant portion" of its furloughed workers to allow for the on-time processing of refunds.
When can you expect your tax refund?
If you're among the vast majority of Americans who file their taxes electronically, the IRS advises that it pays out most e-file tax refunds within 21 days of processing. For taxpayers who file taxes by mail, the IRS says that a refund can be expected within six weeks of mailing the return. According to the IRS's latest guidance, it looks like this timetable should be accurate for the upcoming tax filing season.
Also, it's important to mention that there are some factors that could cause your refund to take longer, such as claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The IRS has yet to release specifics for 2019, but last year the IRS advised taxpayers that the earliest EITC-related refunds wouldn't be available until late February.
After you file, you can check the status of your tax refund through the IRS's "Where's My Refund" tool, which should be available 24 hours after you e-file or four weeks after you mail in your paper return. The tool is updated nightly, and can provide the most accurate information about your expected refund.