Important Considerations Before Filing a 2021 Tax Return

Photo by Josh Appel / Unsplash
Source: IRS News Release 2022-23

The Internal Revenue Service has listed some things to consider before filing your 2021 tax return:

Don't file before you are ready

While you shouldn't file your returns late, you should also not file before having all the proper reporting documentation. Mistakes can be costly—fixing them can be time-consuming.

This year the IRS sent Letter 6419, Advance Child Tax Credit Reconciliation, to taxpayers who received Advance Child Tax Credit payments. If you received these payments, you would need the information in this letter to accurately claim the remaining Child Tax Credit on their 2021 return.

Most people were issued the third Economic Impact Payment and won't need any information about it to file their returns. If you did not receive the payment or only received a partial payment, you would need that to claim the remainder.

You must file to claim certain credits—even if you aren't required to file.

Even if you aren't required to file, you must file to claim:

  • The Recovery Rebate Credit to receive any remaining2021 stimulus payments that you might not have received;
  • The remaining Child Tax Credit for which you are eligible, including any monthly advance payments that you might not have received; and
  • The Earned Income Tax Credit, the federal government's largest refundable tax credit for low- to moderate-income families.

View IRS account information online

You can use your IRS Online Account to securely access information about your federal tax account, including payments, tax records, and more.

To help with preparing your return, you can view:

  • The total amounts of Economic Impact Payments issued to you for the 2021 tax year
  • The total amount of advance Child Tax Credit payments you received
  • Your adjusted gross income from their last tax return
  • The total of any estimated tax payments you made, and any refunds applied as a credit

You can also make and track payments and manage communication preferences, including the option to go paperless and request email notifications for specific notices available online. We encourage you to register for an online account if you haven't already.

Important 2021 tax documents

Organized tax records make preparing a complete and accurate tax return easier and help your tax preparer find overlooked deductions or credits.

You should wait to file until you have all your supporting income statements, including but not limited to:

E-file and choose direct deposit

The IRS encourages you to file electronically and use direct deposit to get your refunds. According to them, Combining e-file with direct deposit is the safest and fastest way to receive a refund. When choosing e-file and direct deposit, most people receive their refunds in less than 21 days, though it could take longer if your tax return includes errors, is incomplete, or requires further security review.

Paper-filed tax returns and paper refund checks will take even longer this year.

Scott Killen

Scott Killen

Charleston, SC