Your Tax Refunds May Be Smaller This Year

Filers may want to have their returns prepared early in the filing season, so they can adjust their budget if their refund falls short of expectations. “Knowing where you stand lets you make appropriate decisions,” Ms. Pickering said.

If you do owe money, don’t panic, she said. You can file your return when the I.R.S. begins accepting them, but you don’t have to pay the tax until the filing deadline in April. That gives you about three months to save up the money. If you don’t have the full amount, you may qualify for a payment plan.

Also in 2022, some states with budget surpluses have been issuing tax rebates to residents. While there has been some confusion about whether such payments count as taxable income on 2022 federal returns, that is not the case, said Richard Auxier, senior policy associate at the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.

Other changes this year include the end of a tax break for charitable donations for people who don’t itemize, or detail, their various tax deductions. Last year, filers who chose the standard deduction — a flat amount that reduces taxable income — could claim a charitable deduction of up to $300 per filer. But now, only filers who itemize can deduct their charitable contributions. “That doesn’t exist in 2022,” said Tom O’Saben, director of tax content and government relations for the National Association of Tax Professionals.

At the same time, taxpayers are facing what will probably be another tax season with subpar customer service from the I.R.S. — this after enduring two seasons of pandemic-fueled disruptions at the agency.

The I.R.S. is “poised to start the 2023 filing season in a stronger position,” thanks to a reduced backlog of paper tax returns and newly expanded staff, according to a report to Congress this week from Erin M. Collins, the national taxpayer advocate. Ms. Collins heads a group within the Internal Revenue Service that works on behalf of taxpayers.

There is “light at the end of the tunnel,” Ms. Collins said in the report. But the new workers must be trained, taking experienced staff away from their main jobs and creating a “difficult balancing act” that will probably delay significant change until midyear, Ms. Collins said. That is well after the April federal tax filing deadline. “In the short run,” she said, “that may mean fewer employees are assisting taxpayers.”