Updated Apr 13, 2024 - Economy

What to know about taxes, extensions and refunds for Tax Day

Hand holding smartphone that says “Join the IRS Direct File pilot” in front of a sign that says “Internal Revenue Service.”

The IRS rolled out its Direct File pilot this year for gives eligible taxpayers in 12 states. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Economic Security Project

For the first time since 2019, April 15 is Tax Day — the deadline to file federal income tax returns and extensions to the Internal Revenue Service — for most of the country.

Why it matters: Annual tax adjustments, including new tax brackets, an increased standard deduction and higher limits to 401(k) plans are lowering income taxes and increasing tax refunds for many Americans this year.

The big picture: The IRS said Friday that it has received more than 100 million tax returns, with tens of millions more expected to be filed as the tax deadline approaches.

  • The IRS estimates 19 million taxpayers will file for an automatic extension.

Last day to file taxes

April 15 has been the traditional tax filing deadline since 1954 with exceptions for when the date falls on the weekend.

  • Due to the pandemic, the Treasury Department and IRS delayed the deadline in both 2020 and 2021.
  • The calendar pushed the 2022 and 2023 due dates.

Caveat: Taxpayers living in Maine or Massachusetts have until Wednesday, April 17 because the states observe Patriots' Day Monday and Tuesday is the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia.

How to file a tax extension

State of play: You can get an extra six months to file taxes if you file for an extension by Monday, the IRS explains.

  • The six-month extension gives taxpayers until Oct. 15 to file 2023 returns.

Yes, but: There is no extension on payments.

  • If you expect to owe money, it is recommended that you send a payment by April 15 to avoid interest and other penalties.

How it works: Individual taxpayers, regardless of income who don't have tax due, can request an automatic extension by using IRS Free File or by submitting File Form 4868, the application for the extension.

  • Taxpayers with taxes due can request an extension when making a payment. The IRS says to submit an electronic payment and select Form 4868.

IRS Direct File and Free File programs

What we're watching: Millions of Americans in 12 states can file their taxes online for free with the new Direct File pilot, which the IRS rolled out this year.

Participating states for the pilot include Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

  • Taxpayers with relatively simple returns are eligible to participate.

Between the lines: Taxpayers not eligible to use Direct File can access Free File software or free fillable forms at the IRS' website.

  • Taxpayers who made $79,000 or less in 2023 can file their taxes electronically with Free File.

Tax refunds larger in 2024

By the numbers: The IRS has received 101.8 million returns and processed 66.8 million refunds as of April 5, the IRS said in new statistics posted Friday.

  • The average refund amount is $3,011 compared to the average refund at this time last year of $2,878, a difference of 4.6%.
  • $201.1 billion in total refunds have been processed so far this year with $195.9 billion sent via direct deposit.

IRS Where's My Refund tool

Follow the money: Refund status updates typically appear 24 hours after e-filing a current year return on the Where's My Refund tool, the IRS said.

  • For paper returns, plan to wait about four weeks for an update.
  • The IRS said filing electronically and choosing direct deposit is the fastest way to get a refund.

Where to mail paper tax returns

IRS mailing addresses vary by the state you live in and if you are mailing in a payment.

  • Find a list of addresses here.
  • It can take several weeks longer to process paper tax returns versus filing electronically, the IRS said.

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