The Internal Revenue Service began the 2018 tax filing season Monday as the agency plans to receive more than 155 million tax returns this year.

The IRS will also need to deal with providing guidance on the new tax law that Congress passed last month, though most of the provisions won’t be operable for the 2017 returns that taxpayers will be filing this season.

Taxpayers have until Tuesday, April 17, 2018, to file their 2017 returns and pay any taxes due, thanks to Emancipation Day, a Washington, D.C., holiday, that's observed on Monday, April 16. Taxpayers who need an extension will have until Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, to file.

The IRS anticipates more than 70 percent of taxpayers will receive tax refunds this year. Last year, nearly 112 million refunds were issued, with an average refund of $2,895. The IRS expects that 90 percent of returns will be filed electronically this year.

“The IRS has a number of ways to help taxpayers this filing season, and we encourage people to look into the many options available,” said Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter in a statement. “The nation’s tax professionals and software community work with the IRS and help make the tax filing process easier for Americans. Today’s filing season kick-off reflects many months of hard work by the nation’s tax community and IRS employees. And we also appreciate the time and attention taxpayers take as they prepare and file their taxes."

The IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days, though some tax returns will need extra review and will take longer. The online “Where’s My Refund?” tool has the most up to date information about refunds, but it’s not updated more than once a day, so taxpayers don’t need to check more often.

For tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit, the IRS can’t issue refunds before mid-February because those tax refunds are subject to additional checks under law to guard against identity theft and tax fraud. The IRS anticipates the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds will be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting on Feb. 27, 2018, if taxpayers choose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return. The “Where's My Refund?” tool on IRS.gov and the IRS2Go mobile app are the best way to check the status of a refund. The IRS, tax preparers and tax software won’t have any additional information on tax refund dates, so EITC and ACTC filers shouldn’t contact or call about refunds before the end of February. Even with the extra security safeguards, the IRS still expects to issue more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. Some returns may still need additional review and take longer.

State tax agencies have their own refund processing timeframes that can differ, and some states may subject returns to extra reviews to ensure their refunds are being issued properly. Even so, the IRS said taxpayers and tax return preparers should file when they’re ready. For those who usually file early in the year and are ready to file a complete and accurate return, there’s no need to wait.

An American flag flies outside the Internal Revenue Service headquarters at sunrise in Washington, D.C.
An American flag flies outside the Internal Revenue Service headquarters at sunrise in Washington, D.C. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

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