Like to file your taxes early? Good news: The IRS will begin processing 2018 tax returns on time, despite the government shutdown. Getty Images By Rocky Mengle, Tax Editor January 8, 2019 The sooner you file your tax return, the sooner you’ll receive any refund due. But if you were worried that the partial government shutdown was going to push back the start of tax filing season, don’t be. The IRS just announced that it will start accepting 2018 tax returns on January 28, 2019, a day earlier than last year, and provide tax refunds on time according to its normal schedule.SEE ALSO: 18 Red Flags for IRS Auditors If you have a federal tax refund coming, you could get your money back in as little as three weeks. In the past, the IRS has issued over 90% of refunds in less than 21 days. It remains to be seen if the IRS can keep this up in the event of a prolonged government shutdown. If you want to speed up the refund process, e-file your 2018 tax return and select the direct deposit payment method. That’s the fastest way. Paper returns and checks slow things down considerable. SEE ALSO: 20 Tax Deductions You Can't Afford to Overlook However, don’t expect your refund before mid-February if you claim the earned income tax credit or the additional child tax credit. By law, refunds for returns claiming these credits must be delayed. This applies to the entire refund, not just the portion associated with the credits.