WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today opened the 2013 filing season by announcing
a variety of enhanced products and services to help taxpayers prepare and file their tax returns by the April 15 deadline.
New and expanded services for taxpayers this year include a redesigned IRS.gov web site that’s
easier to navigate and improved service options, including more video-conferencing assistance sites and additional social
media tools. In addition, the IRS has stepped up its enforcement efforts to protect taxpayers from refund fraud and identity
The IRS began accepting and processing most individual tax returns today after
updating forms and completing programming and testing of its processing systems to reflect the American Taxpayer Relief
Act (ATRA) that Congress enacted on Jan. 2. The vast majority of taxpayers can file
now, but the IRS is continuing to update its systems for some tax filers. The IRS will begin accepting tax returns from people
claiming education credits in mid-February while taxpayers claiming depreciation deductions, energy credits and many business
credits will be able to file in late February or early March. A full list of the affected forms is available on IRS.gov.
This year, taxpayers
have until Monday, April 15, to file their 2012 tax returns and pay any tax due. The IRS expects to receive more than 147
million individual tax returns this year, with about 75 percent projected to receive a refund.
Last year for the first time, 80 percent of all individual returns were filed electronically. E-file,
when combined with direct deposit, is the fastest way to get a refund. Last year, about three out of four refund filers selected
Assistance Options, Virtual Service Availability
The best way for taxpayers to get answers to their questions is by visiting IRS.gov. Last year, the website
received a record 340 million visits, a 17 percent increase over 2011.
year, the redesigned website makes it easier than ever for taxpayers to get to key forms and vital information. The front
page also has links to redesigned pages to help with everything from refunds to specific tax issues as well as easy access
to taxpayer-friendly videos on the IRS YouTube channel.
taxpayers can access Free File, which provides options for free brand-name tax software or online Fillable Forms plus free electronic filing. Everyone
can use Free File to prepare a federal tax return. Taxpayers who make $57,000 or less can choose from about 15 commercial
software providers. There’s no income limit for Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms.
People making $51,000 or less usually qualify for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program for free tax preparation and electronic filing. Tax Counseling for the Elderly, a similar community-based
volunteer program, offers free tax help with priority assistance to people age 60 and older, specializing in questions about
pensions and retirement issues. Information on these programs can be found at IRS.gov.
This year, the IRS is doubling the number of sites where taxpayers can get assistance through two-way
video conferencing. During 2012, the program’s first year, about 14,000 taxpayers received assistance at 13 locations.
Following a strong response to the virtual assistance program, the IRS plans to roll out 14 new sites. A list of the 27 available locations is on IRS.gov.
For tax law questions or account inquiries, taxpayers can
also call the IRS toll-free number (7 a.m.
to 7 p.m. local time) or visit a taxpayer assistance center. Taxpayers should check IRS.gov for the hours and services offered at the location they intend to visit.
Apps and Social Media
For the third year, the IRS will offer
IRS2Go, its smartphone application, which enables taxpayers to check on the status of their tax refund and obtain helpful
tax information. The IRS2Go app, available for Apple and Android users, has been downloaded more than 800,000 times and used
by taxpayers millions of times.
More helpful information is available through
IRS social media platforms, including:
where viewers can watch more than 100 short, informative videos. They are available inEnglish, Spanish, American Sign Language and other languages.
- The IRS also has several twitter feeds available for taxpayers in English and
Spanish at@IRSnews or @IRSenEspanol. And @IRStaxpros covers news for tax professionals.
- For the 2013 filing season, the IRS has added
Tumblr to its list of social media platforms. People who want tax information now have another way of accessing and sharing
helpful tax tips, videos, podcasts and other information at www.internalrevenueservice.tumblr.com.
The IRS only uses social media tools to share public information, not to answer
personal tax or account questions. And the IRS reminds taxpayers to never post confidential information, such as a Social
Security Number, on social media sites.
Check for a Refund
Even with the Jan. 30 opening of the tax season, the IRS expects to issue refunds within the usual timeframes.
Last year, the IRS issued more than nine out of 10 refunds to taxpayers in less than 21 days, and it expects the same results
After taxpayers file a return, they can track the status of the refund with
the “Where’s My Refund?” tool available on the IRS.gov website. New this year, instead of an estimated date, “Where’s My
Refund?” will give people an actual personalized refund date after the IRS processes the tax return and approves the
Here are some tips for using "Where's My Refund?":
- Initial information will generally be available within 24
hours after the IRS receives the taxpayer’s e-filed return or four weeks after mailing a paper return.
system updates every 24 hours, usually overnight. There’s no need to check more than once a day.
My Refund?” provides the most accurate and complete information that the IRS has about the refund, so there is no need
to call the IRS unless the web tool says to do so.
- To use the “Where’s My
Refund?” tool, taxpayers need to have a copy of their tax return for reference. Taxpayers will need their Social Security
Number, filing status and the exact dollar amount of the refund they are expecting.
should remember that while most tax refunds are issued within 21 days, some tax returns need additional time to be reviewed.
As part of that effort, the IRS has put in place stronger security filters this filing season to protect against refund fraud
and identity theft.
identity theft and refund fraud is a top priority for the IRS, and the agency’s work on identity theft and refund fraud
continues to grow. For the 2013 filing season, the IRS has expanded these efforts to better protect taxpayers, help victims
and detect refund fraud before it occurs.
The effort includes stronger
screening filters for incoming tax returns, increased IRS Criminal Investigation activity and expanded partnerships with local
law-enforcement officials and financial institutions. More information is available in IRS Fact Sheet 2013-2.
By late 2012, the IRS assigned more than 3,000 IRS employees —
more than double the number from 2011 — to work on identity theft-related issues. IRS employees are working to prevent
refund fraud, investigate identity theft-related crimes and help taxpayers who have been victimized by identity thieves. In
addition, the IRS has trained 35,000 employees who work with taxpayers to recognize identity theft indicators and help people
victimized by identity theft.
The IRS continues to increase its efforts against refund
fraud, which includes identity theft. During 2012, the IRS protected $20 billion of fraudulent refunds, including those related
to identity theft, compared with $14 billion in 2011.
For more information, see the special identity
theft section on IRS.gov.
IR-2013-2, Jan. 8, 2013
WASHINGTON — Following the
January tax law changes made by Congress under the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA), the Internal Revenue Service announced
today it plans to open the 2013 filing season and begin processing individual income tax returns on Jan. 30.
The IRS will begin accepting tax returns on that date after updating forms and completing programming and
testing of its processing systems. This will reflect the bulk of the late tax law changes enacted Jan. 2. The announcement
means that the vast majority of tax filers — more than 120 million households — should be able to start filing
tax returns starting Jan 30.
The IRS estimates that remaining households will be
able to start filing in late February or into March because of the need for more extensive form and processing systems changes.
This group includes people claiming residential energy credits, depreciation of property or general business credits. Most
of those in this group file more complex tax returns and typically file closer to the April 15 deadline or obtain an extension.
“We have worked hard to open tax season as soon as possible,” IRS Acting Commissioner
Steven T. Miller said. “This date ensures we have the time we need to update and test our processing systems.”
The IRS will not process paper tax returns before the anticipated Jan. 30 opening date. There
is no advantage to filing on paper before the opening date, and taxpayers will receive their tax refunds much faster by using
e-file with direct deposit.
“The best option for taxpayers is to file electronically,”
The opening of the filing season follows passage by Congress of an extensive
set of tax changes in ATRA on Jan. 1, 2013, with many affecting tax returns for 2012. While the IRS worked to anticipate the
late tax law changes as much as possible, the final law required that the IRS update forms and instructions as well as make
critical processing system adjustments before it can begin accepting tax returns.
IRS originally planned to open electronic filing this year on Jan. 22; more than 80 percent of taxpayers filed electronically
Who Can File Starting Jan. 30?
anticipates that the vast majority of all taxpayers can file starting Jan. 30, regardless of whether they file electronically
or on paper. The IRS will be able to accept tax returns affected by the late Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) patch as well as
the three major “extender” provisions for people claiming the state and local sales tax deduction, higher education
tuition and fees deduction and educator expenses deduction.
Who Can’t File Until Later?
There are several forms affected by the late legislation that require more extensive programming
and testing of IRS systems. The IRS hopes to begin accepting tax returns including these tax forms between late February and
into March; a specific date will be announced in the near future.
The key forms that
require more extensive programming changes include Form 5695 (Residential Energy Credits), Form 4562 (Depreciation and Amortization)
and Form 3800 (General Business Credit). A full listing of the forms that won’t be accepted until later is available on IRS.gov.
As part of this effort, the IRS will be working closely
with the tax software industry and tax professional community to minimize delays and ensure as smooth a tax season as possible
under the circumstances.
Updated information will be posted on IRS.gov.