The Internal Revenue Service has announced the 2016 filing season start date. And surprise! There’s no delay. Tax season for paper and electronically filed returns will open on Tuesday, January 19, 2016. That’s one day earlier than last season’s start date (January 20, 2015).
Even better? There’s no tiered opening season. All taxpayers can begin filing on January 19, 2016. There was some concern about what might happen if Congress did not sign off on all of the tax extenders. Fortunately, Congress eventually approved a tax extenders package which renewed all of those extenders – with no changes – making it possible for all taxpayers to start filing at the same time.
The IRS will begin accepting individual electronic returns on Tuesday, January 19, 2016. The IRS expects to receive more than 150 million individual returns in 2016, with more than four out of five being prepared using tax return preparation software and e-filed. The IRS will begin processing paper tax returns at the same time. There is no advantage to people filing tax returns on paper in early January instead of waiting for e-file to begin.
And don’t be fooled. Just because a tax preparer will prepare your return earlier doesn’t mean that you skip the line: although the IRS begins accepting returns on January 19, many tax software companies will begin accepting tax returns earlier in January and submitting them to the IRS when processing systems open. That date remains January 19, 2016.
“We look forward to opening the 2016 tax season on time,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “Our employees have been working hard throughout this year to make this happen. We also appreciate the help from the nation’s tax professionals and the software community, who are critical to helping taxpayers during the filing season.”
As noted earlier, Tax Day is pushed out a bit this year. Tax Day will be Monday, April 18, 2016, rather than April 15, 2016.
Traditionally, Tax Day is April 15 unless that date falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, in which case the due date for federal income tax returns gets pushed ahead to the next business day. In some years, the District of Columbia observes Emancipation Day on the same day as Tax Day, which affects the nation’s tax filing deadline – so the deadline gets moved.
Emancipation Day falls on a Saturday in 2016. You’d think that Emancipation Day would get pushed ahead to Monday, April 18, 2016 – but it doesn’t. It actually gets pushed back. By law, when April 16 falls during a weekend, Emancipation Day is observed on the nearest weekday – not necessarily the following weekday. That means, in 2016, Emancipation Day will be observed on Friday, April 15, on what would normally be Tax Day. Tax Day, which falls on a Friday, gets pushed ahead by statute to the next business day, which is Monday, April 18, 2016.
It’s even more confusing if you file your return in Maine or Massachusetts: due to Patriots Day, the deadline will be Tuesday, April 19, 2016, in those states.