Tax filing opens today. Here’s what to know about your 2024 tax refund.

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IRS accepting and processing 2023 federal income tax returns

IRS accepting and processing 2023 federal income tax returns 00:20

The IRS started accepting tax returns on Monday, kicking off the 2024 tax season with a pledge to provide better service for taxpayers. For most tax filer, the top questions are whether they’ll see a bigger tax refund — and how long will it take the IRS to send them their money.

More than half of Americans plan to file their taxes early this year so they can get their hands on their refund as soon as possible, according to a new study from Intuit Credit Karma. The average refund check last year was just shy of $3,200 — an amount that typically represents a family’s biggest check of the year. 

One of taxpayers’ biggest concerns is the timing of their tax refund, something that became a pain point during the pandemic when millions of refunds were delayed by IRS backlogs. But this tax season, the IRS is tapping billions in new funding provided by the Inflation Reduction Act, allowing it to hire more customer service reps and improve apps like its “Where’s My Refund?” service.

“The earlier you file, the earlier you get your money,” Mark Steber, chief tax information officer at Jackson Hewitt, told CBS MoneyWatch. “Frankly, there are other benefits to filing early.”

Chief among them: Locking up your data from fraudsters, he said. Some scammers try to file early in the tax season by fraudulently using taxpayers’ Social Security and work data, hoping to claim those refunds before the taxpayers themselves have had a chance to file, he noted.

Here’s what to know about the 2024 tax season before you file. 

When is the 2024 tax filing season?

The IRS started accepting tax returns on January 29, and will continue to accept federal tax returns through April 15. 

Taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts have until April 17 to file their taxes because of state holidays. People living in federally declared disaster areas can also get more time to file.

If you need more time, you can also ask for a filing extension. That will give you until mid-October to file your tax returns.

When will the IRS issue refunds in 2024?

The IRS says that most taxpayers receive their refunds within 21 days. 

That means that if you file your taxes on January 29, the earliest day possible, you should receive your tax refund by February 19.

However, that is a guideline, not a guarantee, and the tax agency warns that some returns may take more time to review, extending the period beyond 21 days. 

It’s also important to understand that the 21-day turnaround applies to people who file their taxes electronically. Paper returns can take much longer for the IRS to process.

Can I see the status of my tax refund? 

The best way to check the status of your refund is to visit Where’s My Refund? online at IRS.gov or on the IRS2Go app. 

The IRS on Monday said that it is updating the “Where’s My Refund?” tool to provide more details about a taxpayer’s refund, rather than the typical message that the returns are being processed and to check back later. This season, taxpayers will see whether the IRS needs more information from them, as well as other details, the agency said.

What is happening with the Child Tax Credit?

Right now, there is a deal to expand the Child Tax Credit (CTC), which includes the possibility of making some changes retroactive to 2023 — the tax year that people are currently filing for. 

That deal could provide a more generous refund amount to millions of parents. 

Should I wait to file my taxes due to the Child Tax Credit?

Tax experts tell CBS MoneyWatch that you shouldn’t hold off on filing your taxes in the hope that Congress will greenlight a more generous Child Tax Credit. 

“I can emphatically say, without a question, never wait to file your taxes for possible pending D.C. legislation,” Steber said. “It’s just not an equation that works.”

If the expanded CTC becomes law and is retroactive to 2023, the IRS will likely send you a check to make up the difference, Steber noted. And the CTC tweak could impact your tax refund by only a few hundred dollars, which Steber said isn’t worth a delay in receiving your tax refund, which will likely represent a much bigger amount.

What is different with 2023 and 2024 tax brackets?

The IRS has adjusted its tax brackets for inflation for both 2023 and 2024. 

In 2023, the tax brackets were adjusted upward by about 7% to account for last year’s high inflation. To see those brackets, click here.

The IRS also adjusted its tax brackets upward for 2024, pushing the limits by about 5.4% higher this year. To see those brackets, click here.

Will I get a bigger tax refund in 2024?

Some people could see bigger refunds this year, with some potentially receiving 10% more than a year earlier, Steber said.

Those taxpayers receiving bigger refunds are most likely to be workers whose income didn’t keep up with inflation. For instance, if your wages rose 4% last year, that’s below the 7% IRS adjustment to its tax brackets. The difference could result in a bigger refund. 

About 3 in 4 Americans say they expect to receive a tax refund this year, while about 1 in 4 believe that they’ll get more money in their check from the IRS, Credit Karma found.

Aimee Picchi

Aimee Picchi is the associate managing editor for CBS MoneyWatch, where she covers business and personal finance. She previously worked at Bloomberg News and has written for national news outlets including USA Today and Consumer Reports.

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