Due to late passage of tax legislation, the IRS announced last week it will begin processing federal income tax returns on Jan. 30.
That is eight days later than originally planned, but it does not mean taxpayers have to delay preparing their tax returns.
Taxpayers can prepare their returns now and tax preparers will hold them until the IRS is ready to begin processing, according to a news release provided by Mary Ellen Woods, Marshall H&R Block office manager.
She said her office has gotten calls from taxpayers wondering when they should prepare their returns.
"While the IRS indicated some forms may be delayed, the majority of taxpayers can begin the filing process now," H&R Block officials said. "By preparing the tax return ... now, taxpayers can have confidence they'll get their tax refund as fast as possible," said Kathy Pickering, executive director of The Tax Institute at H&R Block.
According to IRS data, approximately 18 million total taxpayers typically file a tax return in January with 98 percent of those receiving a refund.
"With refunds now coming several weeks later, those who can afford it the least are impacted the most," Pickering said.
To ensure timely processing of the return and refund delivery, the company recommends taxpayers still prepare their return as they normally would.
"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," Miller said.