Seven Reasons to File Your Taxes Early


Are you a tax procrastinator? Someone who puts off filing your tax return until early April, maybe even flirting with the April 15, 2014 deadline?

The National Society of Accountants (NSA) reminds you that there are advantages to filing early.

Last October’s 16-day shutdown of the federal government delayed the start of this year’s tax season. Individuals can begin electronically filing (e-filing) federal tax returns on Friday, January 31 (more than a week later than the Internal Revenue Service originally planned), when the IRS will begin processing individual returns, such as Form 1040s, on a first-filed, first-processed basis.

Most states plan to start accepting individual state tax returns on or around that date, too. California opened its filing season in early January.

If file your taxes by the April 15 deadline, you incur no late-filing penalties. Waiting until the last minute, however, obviously allows you no room for error without requesting an extension to file.

Consider these seven reasons to file early:

1. If you think you have a refund coming, filing early often makes your refund show up faster. In recent years, early filers have received refunds in 21 days. Taxpayers filing nearer the deadline day waited an average of 31 days.

2. If you think you’ll owe taxes, you find out sooner how much you’ll owe. This gives you more time to save up money before the balance comes due. You may also file early and not pay the tax bill until the April 15 deadline – and you have until that date to arrange a payment schedule with the IRS.

3. Your tax preparer has a lot more time – and energy – early in the tax-filing season to talk to you. If preparing your taxes is going to mean several meetings with your preparer and questions for them to answer or research, start ASAP. You also gain more time to correct any errors that crop up during preparation.

4. Filing early forces you to organize such tax documents as your wage and earning statements (forms W-2, K-1, 1099-MISC and 1099-R) and your receipts for deductions and credits. The more time you have to put these documents in order the better you’ll feel about justifying deductions that the IRS often scrutinizes, such as those for home office space or charitable contributions.

5. The last minute is no time to discover a wrinkle that complicates your tax situation. Nor is the last minute the time to make a hurried and careless mistake in your return – a mistake that could trigger an audit.

6. About three out of 10 taxpayers still mail paper returns. Filing early spares you from the early-April crowds at the post office.

7. Filing early reduces the risk of some identity thief filing in your name later in the season to steal a refund.

If you need tax-preparation help this coming season, you can find a qualified tax preparer in your area, on the NSA website at www.nsacct.org,  Click on “Find a Professional” or call 800-966-6679.


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