The 2019 tax season is in full swing—here’s when you need to have your taxes finished to beat the Tax Day deadline.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated: March 22, 2019

Tax season can easily be described as both the best of times and the worst of times. Some tax payers may be preparing for a sizable tax refund—and others may be coming to the frightening realization that they’ll owe money. Regardless of how tax season has gone in years past, though, tax season 2019 may be a whole new challenge when it’s time to start filing your taxes.

When is tax season?

In early January, the IRS announced that it will begin processing tax returns January 28, 2019. The IRS expects to be able to give taxpayers their refunds on schedule, despite the partial government shutdown at the end of 2018 and early 2019 that some believed may delay tax season 2019 and how quickly the IRS is able to process 2018 tax returns.

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When is Tax Day?

The last day to file taxes, also called Tax Day, is Monday, April 15, 2019. All 2018 tax returns are due on Tax Day, unless a tax-filing extension request has been submitted. Taxes can still be filed on Tax Day, but it is always best to avoid becoming a last-minute tax filer.

The federal shutdown means only a partial percentage of IRS staff are working, according to CNBC, so the agency isn’t running at full capacity and certain functions may be limited or unavailable. If you're wondering, “do we get tax returns during a government shutdown?,” in the past, the answer has been no. This year, though, the IRS has announced that it will be paying refunds, even during the shutdown (should it continue). Fortunately, the shutdown ended January 25, just before the start of tax season.

The IRS claims to issue most refunds in fewer than 21 days, and hopefully that will hold true for the 2019 tax season. Because of the shutdown, though, a large number of IRS employees are not working or working without pay; the IRS plans to recall a significant portion of its workforce to handle tax season.

To reduce any potential refund delays, consider preparing tax returns—or working with a professional or tax filing software to prepare them—as early as possible. That way, as soon as the IRS begins accepting returns, yours can be submitted and your refund can be processed, hopefully within that 21-day window. The IRS also recommends that taxpayers file their returns electronically to reduce any potential errors and receive refunds more quickly. Use the commonly overlooked tax deductions checklist to check for any opportunities to increase that 2018 tax refund, and plan to be patient: That refund will arrive eventually, even if it is delayed.