Jan. 29 will be an important day for buy-here, pay-here dealerships.

The Internal Revenue Service announced on Monday that Jan. 29 is the official start date of the nation’s 2024 tax season when the agency will begin accepting and processing 2023 tax returns.

The IRS expects more than 128.7 million individual tax returns to be filed by the April 15 tax deadline.

According to the IRS database, the agency processed 105,734,000 refunds last year, totaling $334.861 billion. That computed to an average refund amount $3,167, which was 2.6% lower than a year earlier.

Although the IRS said it will not officially begin accepting and processing tax returns until Jan. 29, the agency said people do not need to wait until then to work on their taxes if they’re using software companies or tax professionals.

For example, officials said most software companies accept electronic submissions and then hold them until the IRS is ready to begin processing later this month.

IRS Free File will also be available on IRS.gov starting on Friday in advance of the filing season opening. The IRS Direct File pilot will be rolled out in phases as final testing is completed and is expected to be widely available in mid-March to eligible taxpayers in the participating states.

Building off what the agency called the success of the 2023 tax season that saw significant improvements following passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the IRS said the 2024 filing season will continue reflecting the focus on improving services to taxpayers. One of the primary developments is improvements to the Where’s My Refund? tool, which is the IRS’ most widely used taxpayer service tool.

Updates to Where’s My Refund? will allow taxpayers to see more detailed refund status messages in plain language. Officials said these updates will also ensure Where’s My Refund works seamlessly on mobile devices.

Officials acknowledged taxpayers often saw a generic message stating that their returns are still being processed and to check back later. With the improvements, taxpayers will see clearer and more detailed updates, including whether the IRS needs them to respond to a letter requesting additional information.

The new updates will reduce the need for taxpayers to call the IRS for answers to basic questions, according to officials.

“As our transformation efforts take hold, taxpayers will continue to see marked improvement in IRS operations in the upcoming filing season,” IRS commissioner Danny Werfel said in a news release. “IRS employees are working hard to make sure that new funding is used to help taxpayers by making the process of preparing and filing taxes easier.”