By Richard Rubin 

WASHINGTON -- The Internal Revenue Service won't start accepting 2020 individual income tax returns until Feb. 12, several weeks later than usual, as the agency implements late tax legislation.

This tax season could be unusually challenging for the IRS and for taxpayers. The IRS said Friday that it needed time to program and test its computer systems after Congress passed a relief law in late December.

"Planning for the nation's filing season process is a massive undertaking, and IRS teams have been working nonstop," said IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

Millions of people who didn't get the full stimulus payments from laws passed in March and December will be able to claim the money through their 2020 tax returns. That group includes people who had children during 2020 and those who didn't qualify for the full payments based on 2019 income but saw income drop in 2020. Others will be surprised to learn that unemployment insurance benefits are taxable.

The Feb. 12 start date means that some tax refunds will hit bank accounts later than usual. That could slow consumer spending in February, though the $600 per-person stimulus payments that households have been receiving this month could offset that effect.

Under a law designed to limit fraud, the IRS was already prohibited from paying many refunds until mid-February to households receiving the earned-income tax credit and the refundable portion of the child tax credit.

The IRS said people in those groups should get their payments by early March if they file electronically and have no problems with their returns. That is similar to when those households receiving credits would have otherwise received them during a regular filing season, according to the IRS.

"While I am disappointed that this year's filing season will begin later than usual, I recognize that the IRS has faced extraordinary challenges throughout the Covid crisis," said Rep. Richard Neal (D., Mass), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

The April 15 deadline for filing and paying income taxes, which was extended to July 15 last year during the pandemic, remains unchanged.


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 15, 2021 13:01 ET (18:01 GMT)

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