When is tax season?

1 min readLast updated February 1, 2024by Rachel Carey

The 2024 tax season spans the first three and a half months of the year and is when individuals and businesses submit the relevant paperwork for the 2023 tax year.


  • The 2024 tax season starts on January 1, 2024, and taxpayers can begin submitting their returns from the end of January. 

  • The deadline for the tax season is April 15, 2024. 

  • Taxpayers from 13 qualifying states may be able to participate in the Direct File pilot. 

  • Those who file their taxes electronically can expect a faster turnaround time with their refund. 

What is tax season, and how does it work? 

Tax season is when individuals and businesses must file their tax returns with the IRS. During this period, taxpayers gather their financial documents, report their income, and claim deductions or credits to calculate the taxes they owe or are owed as a refund. 

Taxpayers can prepare their tax returns manually, use tax software, or seek assistance from tax professionals such as certified public accountants (CPAs). Once completed, the tax return must be submitted to the IRS by mail and, more recently, electronically. The IRS then processes the returns, verifies the information provided, and calculates the taxpayers' final tax refund or liability. 

During tax season 2024, the IRS plans to finalize its Direct File limited-scope pilot to assess the project's technology needs and customer support. The IRS is testing the feasibility of providing taxpayers with a free, additional option to file their taxes, i.e., Direct File.  

States, including Arizona, New York, California, and Massachusetts, are working together with the IRS on this project by integrating their state taxes into the pilot. Taxpayers from nine other states without income tax may also be eligible to participate in the Direct File pilot. These states include Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, New Hampshire, and South Dakota. 

Tax season is crucial for individuals and the government as it allows the government to collect the revenue necessary for public services and programs. 

When does tax season start? 

As with preceding years, the official start of tax season 2024 is January 1, 2024. Taxpayers can then begin gathering their necessary financial documents, such as W-2s, 1099s, and other pertinent statements. From January 27, 2024, the IRS begins accepting and processing electronic tax returns. Taxpayers who prefer submitting paper documents by mail may also submit from this date onward. 

Taxpayers should start filing early to avoid last-minute stress and ensure sufficient time to gather all the necessary documentation. 

When does tax season end? 

The traditional deadline for filing individual tax returns is April 15 each year unless this date falls on a weekend or holiday. For the 2024 tax season, the deadline for filing individual income tax returns is Monday, April 15, 2024.  

Taxpayers who cannot meet this deadline can file for an extension, which extends the filing deadline to October 15, 2024. It's important to note that while an extension grants additional time to file the return, it doesn't extend the deadline for paying any taxes owed. 

Therefore, taxpayers anticipating a tax liability should make payments of the estimated amount by the original deadline (April 15, 2024) to avoid penalties and interest. Additionally, early filing is encouraged to ensure a smooth process and the timely receipt of any potential tax refunds. 

When can I start filing taxes? 

For filing, the official start of the tax season usually occurs in late January, i.e., on January 27. For this tax year, this date falls on a Saturday, so the IRS will start accepting and processing electronic tax returns on the following work day, Monday, January 29, 2024. This marks the point at which individuals can begin to file their tax returns for the year. 

Should I file for taxes early? 

Early filing for taxes offers you several advantages, including: 

  1. Early filers often receive their refunds sooner, providing financial relief and the opportunity to address immediate needs or financial goals. 

  2. Early filing allows ample time to address any discrepancies, gather required documentation, and seek professional assistance if needed. 

  3. It reduces the stress associated with last-minute filing, reducing the likelihood of errors or omissions in your return. 

  4. Early filing provides more time to explore potential tax deductions and credits for those with complex financial situations, maximizing your tax savings. 

  5. Submitting your tax return early helps prevent identity theft and fraud, as it reduces the window of opportunity for someone to file a fraudulent return using your information. 

When should I receive my tax refund? 

The timeframe for receiving a tax refund varies, but the IRS aims to issue most refunds within three weeks (21 days) of receiving a tax return. The fastest way to receive a refund is through direct deposit, which is typically quicker than receiving a paper check in the mail. 

Factors that may affect the tax refund processing time include the following: 

  • The complexity of your return 

  • Any errors 

  • The method of filing (e-file or paper) 

It is worth noting that refunds may be delayed for up to a month if the taxpayer has a Child Tax Credit (Form 1040), Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), or other credits requiring an eligibility check. 

You can monitor your refund status on the IRS website or by using their mobile app. The IRS will launch its new and improved Where's My Refund? tool in the 2024 tax season, offering taxpayers more detailed, real-time updates on the status of their refund. 

What is a tax season extension? 

A tax season extension is a provision that allows individuals to prolong the deadline for filing their income tax returns beyond the standard due date.  

In the United States, taxpayers can request an extension, usually extending the deadline from April 15 to October 15. However, as mentioned, it's important to remember that an extension grants additional time to file the return, not an extension on paying taxes owed. These must still be paid by April 15, 2024. 

Individuals must submit Form 4868 to the IRS to request a tax season extension. This provides an additional six months to complete the tax return. Common reasons for individuals seeking an extension include needing more time to gather necessary documentation, facing complex financial situations, or experiencing unexpected life events. 

For example, if a taxpayer is waiting for additional financial information – like late-arriving investment statements – they may choose to file for an extension to ensure the accuracy of their tax return. 

In some cases, the IRS will offer a tax season extension to a part or whole of the United States. For example, with the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, the IRS gave the whole country an extension of 3 months to July 15, 2020, on the payment deadline. Or, in the case of natural disasters, like extensive hurricane damage, the IRS may offer taxpayers registered in the affected areas an extension and also tax relief. 

Want to learn more about taxes? 

Tax season starts on January 1, 2024, and taxpayers can start filing their returns from the end of January 2024. Returns and payments should be finalized by April 15, 2024, unless the taxpayer applies for an extension on the returns. In this case, they will have until October 15, 2024, to file their returns. 

If you want more clarity on taxes, rebates, tax deductions, and credits, a financial advisor can guide you through the process of submitting your personal or business income tax return. Let Unbiased match you with an advisor who can offer sound financial advice on how to save on your tax returns and other financial management skills. 

Senior Content Writer

Rachel Carey

Rachel is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She has nearly a decade of experience writing and producing content across a range of different sectors.