Tax Deadline Is 3 Weeks Away: Learn the Critical Dates and Rules

The time for filing your income taxes is running out.

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This story is part of Taxes 2022, CNET’s coverage of the best tax software and everything else you need to get your return filed quickly, accurately and on-time.

The tax deadline for almost all Americans — April 18, 2022 — approaches quickly. After two years of extended deadlines due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS mostly returns to business as usual this year.

The IRS has already processed more than 70 million returns for fiscal 2021 and issued nearly 52 million refunds. But the agency has also warned about delays in processing returns, especially as the 2022 tax season introduced major tax changes like stimulus payments and an expanded child tax credit.

“The pandemic continues to create challenges, but the IRS reminds people there are important steps they can take to help ensure their tax return and refund don’t face processing delays,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement.

Here are all the important dates for the 2022 tax season — including when state taxes are due, the deadline for extensions and when you should expect a tax refund — plus tips for a smooth and speedy filing experience. 

What’s the deadline for filing your 2021 tax return?

The deadline for filing federal taxes for most taxpayers will be Monday, April 18, 2022. That’s because April 15 is recognized as a holiday, Emancipation Day, in Washington, DC.

Taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts, however, have until April 19, because of the observance of Patriots’ Day in those states.

The IRS also announced an extended tax filing date for victims of winter storms in Tennessee, Illinois and Kentucky, and victims of wildfires in Colorado. The extended May 16 deadline is limited to affected counties, though, which can be found on the IRS’ page on tax relief in disaster situations

What if I file for an extension?

Taxpayers have to request an extension by April 18 (or April 19, depending on where you live), but will have until Oct. 17, 2022, to file a completed 2021 tax return. 


Your state may have a different tax deadline than the IRS does.

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Be aware that filing an extension doesn’t push back the deadline for when you need to pay the IRS: You still need to pay an estimate of what you owe to avoid late penalties. An extension just gives you more time to complete your tax return.

When can I expect my refund?

If you file electronically and choose direct deposit, the IRS says you can expect it within 21 days, assuming there are no problems with your return.

By law, the agency cannot issue refunds involving the earned income tax credit or additional child tax credit before mid-February, in order to help prevent fraudulent refunds from being issued. But individuals who are eligible for those credits can still begin filing on Jan 24.

Should I file early?

If you have all your paperwork in order, and you’re getting a refund, then it makes sense to file as soon as possible, Joe Burhmann, senior financial planning consultant at eMoney Advisor, told CNET. “From a planning perspective, the IRS likes that.”

If you owe money, though, you might want to wait until closer to the deadline.

“It gives you a bit more time to hold onto your money,” Burhmann said. “And it gives you time to figure out how to pay — whether that means getting a loan, putting it on credit cards or something else.”


Experts agree direct deposit is the fastest way to get your refund from the IRS.

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But even if you’re not filing immediately, you should prepare your taxes as soon as possible. “Knowledge is always a good thing to have,” Burhmann said. “Make sure you’ve gotten your 1099 and know what you’re going to be dealing with.”

What happens if I miss the tax deadline?

If you’re owed a refund, there is no penalty for filing federal taxes late, though this may be different for your state taxes. Still, it’s best to e-file or postmark your individual tax return as early as possible. 

If you owe the IRS, penalties and interest start to accrue on any remaining unpaid taxes after the filing deadline. The late-filing penalty is 5% of the taxes due for each month your return is behind, with fees increasing to up to 25% of your due balance after 60 days have passed.

You may also incur a late-payment penalty, which is 0.5% of the taxes due for each month your return is late, with penalties increasing to up to 25% of your unpaid tax, depending on how long you take to file. 

Another caveat: If you’re serving in the military, including in a combat zone or as part of a contingency operation in support of the US armed forces, you may be granted additional time to file, according to the IRS.

File electronically and opt for direct deposit for your refund

The IRS is encouraging taxpayers and tax professionals to file electronically once they have all the information they need to complete an accurate return. That will avoid delays in the processing and issuing of refunds, child tax credits and recovery rebate credits, the agency said.

“Going online ensures you get the full amount of credit and refunds you’re due,” Burhmann told CNET.

Using direct deposit is the fastest way to get any refund or credits due to you, according to Rettig. Individuals can use a bank account, prepaid debit card or mobile app and will need to provide routing and account numbers. 

You can open an account at an FDIC-Insured bank or through the National Credit Union Locator Tool.

How do I check the status of my refund?

The IRS website features a handy web-based tool that lets you check the status of your refund (electronic or paper). There’s also a mobile app, IRS2Go.

You can usually access your refund status about 24 hours after e-filing or four weeks after mailing in a return. To check your status, you’ll need to provide your Social Security number or ITIN, filing status and the exact amount of your refund. If your status is “received,” the IRS has your return and is processing it. “Approved” means your refund is on its way.

If you’re getting a refund, Buhrmann says its important not to think of it as “found money.”

“This isn’t something you want to use to, like, splurge on a big vacation with,” he told CNET. “Consider building up that emergency fund or paying down consumer debt, setting aside for retirement or your kids’ college tuition. If you need a reminder about what a crisis can look like, think back to March 2020.”

I have questions about my taxes. Can I call the IRS?

While you can call the IRS, the agency recommends turning to online resources and its online form instead. Last year, the agency received 145 million calls between Jan. 1 and May 17 — more than four times the volume of an average year. 

“Our phone volumes continue to remain at record-setting levels,” Rettig said in a Jan. 10 press briefing. “We urge people to check and establish an online account to help them access information more quickly. We have invested in developing new online capacities to make this a quick and easy way for taxpayers to get the information they need.”

That said, if you do need to reach out to the IRS, you can call one of its dedicated regional phone lines, operating Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (local time). Individuals can call 800-829-1040 and businesses can call 800-829-4933. 

And there’s always the Interactive Tax Assistant, an automated online tool that provides answers to a number of tax law questions, including whether a type of income is taxable or if you qualify for certain credits and deductions.

If you have a question for the IRS specifically related to stimulus checks and your taxes, the IRS recommends that you check and the Get My Payment application. (We have more information on how to contact the IRS for missing stimulus check-related questions here.)

Where else can I get help with my taxes?

You can find helpful and affordable assistance by choosing a provider from CNET’s roundup of the best tax software for 2022 or by talking to a qualified tax professional. 

The IRS does offer additional free tax help, too. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is designed to offer guidance to people who make less than $54,000 per year, have disabilities or limited facility with English. And the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program specializes in tax issues that affect people who are 60 or older. 

The IRS’ International Taxpayer Service Call Center remains available at 267-941-1000, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET.