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Jan. 24, 2022, 4:39 p.m. EST

Tax season just started. Will there be another deadline extension? IRS head Charles Rettig has weighed in.

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By Andrew Keshner

Tax season started Monday, marking the third time people are filing their income taxes and waiting for a refund amid the pandemic.

In 2020, the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service pushed the traditional April 15 filing deadline to July 15.

In 2021, officials eventually set the deadline at May 17 after first declining to push back the tax deadline.

So what’s the chance for a breather from the April 18 deadline that’s currently set for the 2022 season? There’s “no intent” right now to push back the deadline, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said Monday.

Even as the IRS is bracing taxpayers, and its workers, for a potentially bumpy tax season, Rettig poured cold water on the idea of giving people and their tax preparers more time to pay up their 2021 federal tax bill and file a return.

But he didn’t altogether snuff out the idea, because Rettig said the IRS will see how the tax season goes. “We don’t make that decision lightly either to extend it or not extend it. We share the same concerns everybody else has. We listen to a lot of people and we make a decision that we believe is best for the country,” said Rettig.

To be clear, taxpayers can still seek an extension that would give them an Oct. 15 deadline to file their 2021 return, Rettig noted. (Keep in mind when a person gets an extension, that’s not an extension to pay any owed taxes.)

To avoid or minimize delays, the IRS is emphasizing the importance of filing electronically, submitting accurate information and getting paid by direct deposit instead of a paper check.

Last year, the IRS received more than 169 million returns. This year, the IRS is expecting more than 160 million individual tax returns, and stressing the importance of filing accurate returns because discrepancies and errors will slow down when refunds arrive in bank accounts.

Some states are already pushing back their own income-tax deadlines. For example, Maryland pushed its deadline to July 15. It extended the state-level deadline in 2020 and 2021 as well.

The IRS staff has declined over the years, just like its budget when adjusted for inflation. Like so many other operations, the IRS had to temporarily shut down its operations during the early days of the pandemic in 2020.

As the pandemic ground on, the IRS had to push out three rounds of stimulus checks, Child Tax Credit advance payments, field millions of phone calls and deal with tax law changes in the middle of tax season. In the process, the IRS accumulated a massive backlog of returns, mostly in paper form.

Last year was “ horrendous ,” for millions of taxpayers, according to Erin Collins, the IRS’s national taxpayer advocate.

By December 2021, the IRS still had 6.7 million unprocessed 2020 tax returns and 2.6 million amended returns, according to Ken Corbin, the IRS’s wage and investment division commissioner.

The average refund last year was more than $2,800.

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