By now, you should have received the documents you need to file your taxes. I know it’s easy to procrastinate though. After all, I’ve had my share of late night runs to the post office on April 15th. (You actually have until April 18th to file your taxes this year because the IRS will be shut down on April 15th for “Emancipation Day.”) But there are some very good reasons not to put off filing your taxes:
1) You could suffer from identity theft. One of the most common acts of identity theft is for someone to file an income tax return in your name and run off with the refund, leaving you stuck explaining to the IRS why everything on your return is wrong. Unlike other forms of identity theft, this can’t be prevented by a security freeze and it won’t show up in credit monitoring because no credit is involved. Your best bet is to file your return before someone else can file it for you.
2) Your return may be more complex than you thought. You never know when your tax return may end up being more complicated than you thought. You might need additional paperwork or other information or even need to switch from using software to hiring a professional tax preparer. In that case, you’ll want time to find the right person rather than whoever happens to be available during the busiest time of tax season.
3) You might need time to get a payment together. The only thing worse than finding out that you owe a large sum to the IRS is finding out just before the payment deadline and not being able to make the payment. You’ll then be subject to interest and penalties. By filing early, you’ll have more time to save up or otherwise get cash to pay your tax bill.
4) You could put your refund to work sooner. On the other hand, if you get a refund, filing earlier lets you get your money back sooner. That means you can save interest by paying down debt, earn interest by saving it, or even use it to cover an emergency expense.
5) You can get a head start on other paperwork. You often need a tax return if you apply for a mortgage or have a child applying for financial aid. Getting it done early gives you a head start on filing those forms too.
Most of all, getting your taxes done sooner rather than later means it won’t be on your mind for the rest of tax season. Spending just a little bit of time now can mean less stress over the next few months. Then April 15th (or 18th in this case) will be just another day.