Pennsylvania will begin accepting personal income tax returns for 2020 on Friday, the same day the IRS begins accepting and processing 2020 federal tax returns.

The IRS announced the delay in the start of the filing season, which typically begins in January, is necessary to perform programming and testing work on IRS systems.

For many Americans who received a stimulus check of up to $1,200 per individual during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring, there is some confusion about how the funds will impact their taxes.

The stimulus checks are “absolutely not” income and will not reduce any refund an individual would normally receive, said Maurice Brubaker, a Lewisburg tax advisor with Brubaker Group LLC, and an enrolled agent licensed with the IRS.

Any eligible individual who did not receive the second stimulus check of $600 by Jan. 15 “can still claim it,” he said. 

For state filers, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is offering a new option now available online at mypath.pa.gov

“We’re excited to offer a new online filing system that will make it easy for our customers to file their 2020 state returns for free,” Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell said. “We encourage all Pennsylvania taxpayers to take advantage of this new, easy-to-use option.”

The service provides many benefits, including fast and free return or refund processing, a system allowing taxpayers to track the status of a refund, instant confirmation of a successful filing, user-friendly options not available to paper filings and the ability to view a detailed Statement of Account for personal income tax.

Delays, however, may be possible for some state returns and refunds.

The opening of the filing season for Pennsylvania income tax returns is typically tied to the date the IRS sets because state and federal tax returns that are simultaneously filed through third-party tax preparation software or by a tax preparation service are first routed to the IRS’ systems.

The IRS then routes Pennsylvania state returns to the Department of Revenue at the opening of its tax season, allowing for the processing of state returns and refunds to begin.

Because that process won’t begin this year until Feb. 12, taxpayers who wanted to file their returns in January and early February may see a delay in the processing of their returns and refunds.  

Individuals who received more than $33 in total gross taxable income in 2020 is required to file a state tax return by April 15.

Brubaker, who is working with many clients using Zoom during the pandemic, said he doesn’t expect the IRS will extend the filing season this year.

“I’m not seeing an extension at this point,” he said.

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