Tax Questions & Tips

When can I file my taxes?

December 1st, 2022 Dec 1, 2022 • Read time: 7 min

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As 2022 comes to a close, many people will be looking to get a head-start on filing their taxes early in the new year so they can get their tax refund quickly. The new tax year begins on January 1, 2023, and ends on December 31, 2023, but there’s more to filing your taxes than just knowing those dates. If you’re wondering when you can begin filing your taxes, we have the answer to that question as well as the answers to many other tax-related questions and topics, such as when tax season is, the deadlines by which income taxes must be filed, and what happens if you file your federal taxes late.

When is tax season?

Tax season generally starts around the first of the year (January 1) and ends on Tax Day (usually April 15). During tax season, individuals as well as businesses begin to prepare the documents needed to begin filing their taxes.

This is also the period when employers, banks, and any other sources of income provide taxpayers with necessary tax statements and documents, including W-2s, 1099 forms, 1098 statements, and others. You can start to keep an eye on the mail as well as your email inbox for these documents, since you will need them to file your taxes. Employers and financial institutions are required to send all of your required tax-related documents by January 31.

Because tax season is a busy time for accountants and tax-preparation services, it’s a good idea to organize all of your tax documents related to the previous year and have them ready to go if you decide to hire a professional to file your tax return. If you file your own income tax returns, the same guidelines apply–keep your documents organized, because you will need them to fill out your tax return accurately. And the more accurate your tax return is, the faster you can get your tax refund check.

When do taxes have to be filed by?

For just about everyone, individual income tax returns must be filed by April 15 (that date can change by a day or two if April 15 falls on a weekend or an observed holiday). In 2023, for example, since April 15 falls on a Saturday, taxes will need to be filed by the Tuesday, April 18, 2023 deadline. Other exceptions are occasionally made, such as in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as for those dealing with natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other emergency situations.

If you’re getting close to the April 18, 2023 deadline and you don’t think you’ll be able to file your taxes on time, it is important that you file IRS Form 4868 and request an extension to file your individual income tax return by April 17, 2023. If this request is granted, you will then have until October 15, 2023, to file your tax return.

However, even if you do file an extension, you still must pay any taxes you owe by April 18, 2023–the October 15, 2023 deadline only gives you extra time to file a completed tax return. It does not serve as a delay of your tax payment.

What happens if I file my taxes after the deadline?

If a taxpayer misses the April 18, 2023 deadline and does not file for an extension by that due date, the federal tax return will be considered late. And missing that deadline can lead to serious consequences, such as financial penalties and interest, or even worse.

If you are late with your tax return, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will send you a summons in the mail if they believe you owe federal taxes. The legal summons requires you to meet with the IRS to determine your tax situation and what you owe. This also starts the IRS collection process–put simply, the IRS does not mess around when it comes to collecting the money it is owed in taxes, which is why it’s always a good idea to file ahead of the deadline. In this type of situation, the IRS can:

  • Assess penalties, fines, and interest, which will cost you even more money than you already owed
  • Enforce tax liens, which means that the federal government may seize whatever property they place a lien on (your house, for one) and sell it if you don’t pay your taxes; the lien may be removed if you come to an agreement on payment to the government
  • Send people who don’t pay their taxes to prison for up to five years

If you file your tax return by the April 18, 2023 deadline but do not pay the tax amount that you owe, you will likely receive a notice in the mail that the IRS is enforcing a Failure to File Penalty, which amounts to 5% of your unpaid taxes for each month that your tax return is late, up to 25% of your total unpaid taxes. This can become very costly.

If you do miss your tax payment, but you file your tax return and work out an approved payment plan with the government, the IRS will likely reduce the Failure to Pay penalty to 0.25% per month during your payment plan. If this is your first time missing the tax deadline, you can request to have the penalty removed by contacting the IRS–this is called abatement and is generally considered a one-time favor from the IRS. If you are a repeat offender, the IRS will not be as kind after the first instance of late payments or tax return filings.

Additionally, the IRS will begin to charge you interest on the amount of past due taxes that have not yet been paid, if you don’t pay the taxes you owe by the April 15 (or 18) deadline. That is on top of the penalties that the IRS is already making you pay. On top of that, you might even have to pay interest on the penalty as well.

All of this can be avoided by simply filing your tax return and paying any owed federal taxes before or by the April deadline.

When is the earliest I can file taxes?

The IRS will likely begin accepting and processing tax returns for the 2023 tax season on Monday, January 23, 2023. This means that tax returns will not be accepted or processed before this date. So, as much as you want to get a jump on your tax refund, you’ll have to wait until the IRS starts accepting tax returns.

Technically, you can file your tax return beginning on January 3, 2023, but there is no real benefit in sending it that early since the IRS will not accept or process any tax returns until January 23, which is the date that the IRS’ electronic filing begins. Even if you send your tax return on January 4, it will not necessarily lead to a faster refund. If you file your tax return by mail, the IRS likely won’t even begin processing those until sometime in February. However, if you choose to file your taxes early with Sun Loan, you can benefit from our tax refund advance. This allows you to receive most or all of your tax refund money right at the time of filing.

During this time, right at the start of tax season, it’s recommended that you begin collecting all of your tax-related documents, receipts, and statements in preparation of either handing them off to your tax preparer or filing the tax return yourself. Learn more about everything you need to file your taxes here.

How can I file my taxes?

There are plenty of ways in which you can file your taxes.

  1. You can pay a tax preparation service to handle all of the work for you, as long as you provide them with all of the documents they need.
  2. You can also choose to file your own tax return. Millions of people file electronically every year through programs such as TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxAct, TaxSlayer, IRS Free File, and others. This does require some organization on your part, so be sure to have all the documentation necessary to fill out the forms.

    One major benefit to e-filing through a program like this is that your tax refund is generally processed faster and can be deposited directly into your bank account. You may also choose to have a refund check mailed to you, though this typically leads to longer processing times, which means you will have to wait longer to receive your check than you would if you electronically file your tax return.
  3. While this may not be the preferred method of filing taxes for most people, some still prefer to print out the IRS forms, fill them out by hand, and send them by mail.

These are all valid options, and it all depends on how you prefer to file your taxes.

Sun Loan also provides tax services that make it especially convenient. We offer three easy options for tax preparation: online, in-person, or local drop-off.

  1. Online: To have Sun Loan help you with your taxes without having to visit a branch, simply call your local branch to receive a personalized and secure document upload link, use that link to login and upload scans or photos of your tax documents, review and approve the tax return we’ve prepared for you, and electronically sign (E-sign) the completed tax return from the comfort of your home!
  2. In-person: To file your tax return in-person, just gather your tax documents (plus your social security number and photo ID), stop into your local Sun Loan branch, and review and sign your prepared tax return. We will handle the electronic filing from there.
  3. Local drop-off: Similar to the in-person option, you’ll gather your necessary documents, come into your local branch to drop off the documents, then review and E-sign from home! We’ll then file your tax return, and you can drop by to pick up your documents at your convenience.

At Sun Loan, we offer more than 20 years of tax preparation experience. The experts at your local branch are happy to handle your tax return and ensure its accuracy and timeliness. We can even advance you up to $6,000 through our Refund Advance program, so you get your money fast!
Sun Loan makes tax time and tax preparation simple and stress-free. Click here to learn more about our convenient tax prep services and how they can help you during the upcoming tax season.

Author – Doug Flach

Doug Flach is a partner at Accurate Tax Solutions, a tax preparation firm based out of Alpharetta, GA. Doug’s resume boasts over two decades in the tax industry with a specialization in tax return p... Read more »

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