CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – The Internal Revenue Service began accepting 2021 tax returns on Monday, Jan. 24, meaning tax filing season is officially underway.

Here’s what you need to know this year to file your taxes.

What’s new this year?

  • By law, the IRS can’t issue refunds for people who are filing with the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit before mid-February.
  • If you received Child Tax Credit payments in 2021, you’ll want to wait to file until you receive IRS letter 6419. According to the IRS, Letter 6419 outlines the total amount of advance Child Tax Credit payments you received in 2021 and the number of qualifying children used to calculate the payments.
  • Those who received a third stimulus payment need to wait for a letter from the IRS as well: Letter 6475. This letter relates to the third stimulus payment and includes how much you received in stimulus money in 2021.
  • Unemployment benefits will not come with a tax break this year. Last year there was a temporary tax break for certain people who received unemployment.
  • This year, jobless benefits received in 2021 will be taxable on the 2021 federal income tax return.

When should I receive my W-2?

W-2’s are due to be mailed no later than Jan. 31. According to the IRS, a 2015 law made it a permanent requirement that employers file copies of their Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statements, and Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements, with the Social Security Administration by Jan. 31.

What’s the deadline this year?

The tax filing deadline for filing your 2021 returns is Monday, April 18, 2022. They aren’t due on the traditional date of April 15 because of the Emancipation Day holiday, commemorating the end of slavery in Washington, D.C., falls on the same day this year.

Taxpayers in Maine or Massachusetts have an additional day, meaning their taxes aren’t due until April 19, due to Patriots’ Day. The holiday is not only the traditional day for the Boston Marathon but commemorates the first battles of the American Revolutionary War, according to The Atlantic.

The return date was extended in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That is not the case this year. People who need to file for an extension can do so here. Extension requests also must be made by April 18.

How to file for free

If you made less than $73,000 in 2021, you can use free tax software to electronically file your tax return.

Not all the companies listed on the site cover every state, so make sure to read the fine print. The IRS also has a section of Free File Fillable Forms here.

Filing online can also help you get your refund faster. The IRS says nine out of 10 refunds are issued in less than 21 days when the entire process is done electronically.

How long will it take to get my money?

A worker shortage, an enormous workload from administering pandemic-related programs and stalled legislation that would have given the agency billions of dollars for more expeditiously processing returns will combine to cause taxpayers pain this filing season.

Because of this, the IRS is asking people who can to file electronically (Efile). The agency reports paper returns could take several weeks longer this year.

According to the IRS, people who Efile usually receive their refund within three weeks of the date the IRS receives their return.

People who set up direct deposits are also expected to get theirs faster. If you mail a paper tax return, it can take 6 to 8 weeks to process the return and possibly longer due to staffing issues.

The IRS notes that filing a complete and accurate return will help streamline the process. Taxpayers are encouraged to check for the latest on questions around advance payments of the Child Tax Credit, claiming a Recovery Rebate Credit for missing stimulus money and other issues.

Antsy and just can’t wait to see that larger number in your account? You can always check the progress of the refund using the IRS Where’s My Refund tool.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.