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IRS Not Planning To Extend Tax Filing Deadline, Official Says

By Joshua Rosenberg · February 11, 2021, 3:45 PM EST

Even though the Internal Revenue Service delayed the start of the tax season until February, the agency is not planning to extend the tax filing deadline beyond April 15, an official said Thursday.

The IRS announced in January that it would not begin taking in 2020 income tax returns until Feb. 12. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The IRS doesn't expect to extend the filing deadline beyond mid-April as the agency did last year in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Ken Corbin, who serves as the IRS' Wage and Investment commissioner and chief taxpayer experience officer, said during a news conference phone call. The filing season is set to commence Friday. 

"Right now, we are not planning any administrative extensions beyond the April 15 normal deadline this year," he said, adding that the agency has made available forms and instructions for taxpayers since mid-January. 

The agency announced in January that it would not open the filing season for 2020 income tax returns until Feb. 12, later than its usual start. The IRS cited the need to conduct additional programming and testing for its systems, in light of the $900 billion pandemic relief package that Congress passed in December, which provided additional economic impact payments.

Individuals should try to file their returns electronically, Corbin said, adding that those who file paper returns may encounter significant processing delays. Some 90% of Americans file their returns electronically, according to the IRS. 

Corbin also encouraged eligible Americans to use the Free File program, even if they previously encountered obstacles when trying to file their taxes without charge. 

"We've done a number of significant changes to the Free File program over the last couple of years," he said. "I would encourage them to give it a shot; I think that they will be able to get their returns prepared without having to pay a fee using IRS Free File."

Individuals should navigate the IRS' website to find the program, he added.

Under the Free File agreement, private companies offer free online tax return preparation to the bottom 70% of income earners. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has said only 2.4% of eligible taxpayers used free filing through the program in 2019. The IRS has noted that use of the program increased last year.

A bipartisan report authored by the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in 2020 found that although three separate entities have conducted reviews of the program, it still struggled to provide free tax-filing services to eligible individuals.

--Editing by Vincent Sherry.

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