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January 27 is the first day you can file your taxes, IRS says

  • The IRS will begin processing 2019 tax returns on January 27, making it the first day you may file your return.
  • The last day to file a 2019 return is on Wednesday, April 15, unless you file an extension.
  • However, any owed taxes are still due on April 15. 

Americans eager to claim their annual tax refunds can pencil in January 27 on their calendar — that's the date the Internal Revenue Service says it will start accepting 2019 tax returns.

Some taxpayers like to file their returns as early as possible to get their refunds, which averaged about $2,800 last year, according to IRS data. Many people use that money to pay bills or save it for an emergency fund. 

Of course, a refund isn't a gift from the government — it's a refund of any overpayment on taxes throughout the year. That's why some tax experts recommend that consumers check their withholding annually to ensure they aren't overpaying the IRS.

Although the IRS won't accept returns until January 27, taxpayers can start preparing using the IRS' Free File program now, or through tax software or a tax professional, the agency said. Late last month, the IRS said it has a new tax filing agreement to prevent companies from hiding free products from online searches. 

Taxpayers who earn $69,000 or less can use a free commercial tax-prep product, the agency said. A list of those products can be found at the IRS website.

Getting an extension gives you until October 15 to file your returns, but it doesn't mean you're off the hook for paying taxes. Even with an extension, the IRS expects you to pay any taxes you owe by April 15. 

Here are a few changes for the 2019 tax season:

Higher retirement contributions

  • The contribution limit for 401k, 403b, most 457 plans and the federal government's Thrift Savings Plan rose from $18,500 to $19,000.
  • IRA contribution limits rose to $6,000 annually from $5,500, the first increase since 2013.

Standard deduction boost

  • The standard deduction is also higher in 2019.
  • For married couples filing jointly, it rose to $24,400 in 2019, up $400 from the prior year. 
  • For single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately, the standard deduction rose to $12,200 for 2019, up $200.
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