On Monday, January 29th, the Internal Revenue Service began accepting and processing federal individual tax returns, kicking off the 2024 federal tax filing season. The filing deadline for all 2023 individual returns is April 15, 2024 (although taxpayers may apply for an automatic six-month extension).

Building on its successes from the 2023 tax filing season, the IRS is using additional funds from the Inflation Reduction Act to focus on further improving services used by taxpayers and practitioners. The IRS has noted that it will be providing increased help via its toll-free lines with expanded call back features that are meant to significantly reduce wait times. Wait times, and often the inability to even get through to speak with an IRS employee, have long been a source of substantial frustration for taxpayers and practitioners.

The IRS has also announced enhanced paperless processing that will allow taxpayers to digitally submit correspondence, additional tax- and non-tax forms, and responses to notices. This will enable the digital processing of up to 125 million documents that taxpayers were previously required to submit on paper. As practitioners, we are hopeful that this will help to speed up processing, especially since recent notices from the IRS have been delayed, often arriving days or weeks after they are dated.

The IRS will also be expanding weekly office hours in almost 250 Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) throughout the country. These extended hours run through April 16. To find your local TAC and view its hours, you can use the tool here: IRS Local Office Locator | Internal Revenue Service Additionally, the IRS has updated the “Where’s My Refund?” tool here: Where’s My Refund? | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov)

Using this tool, taxpayers can track the current status of their refunds as soon as 24 hours after a return is e-filed. The tool’s updates will also allow taxpayers to see more detailed refund status messages, and use the tool more easily on mobile devices. As always, for taxpayers looking to receive their refunds as soon as possible, it is best to file early.

As the 2024 tax filing season begins, we are eager to see how these updates and changes will decrease wait times, ease processing issues, and decrease headaches for taxpayers and practitioners alike.

Thank you Colleen Spain for this week’s Tax Tracker!