If you find yourself sweating over paperwork and lining up at the post office every April 15, you are certainly not alone. Millions of Americans wait until the last possible minute to file their taxes, worrying about making the deadline and causing themselves unnecessary stress.
So break that last minute habit, stop procrastinating and start gathering your paperwork. Here are just some of the ways that filing your taxes early will make your life easier.
1. You Could Foil an Identity Thief
Armed with birth dates, Social Security numbers and other key data, identity thieves are becoming experts at tax return fraud. Whether they are operating on their own or as part of an organized criminal gang, those identity thieves rush to file their fake returns before their legitimate counterparts file theirs.
The longer you wait to file your return, the greater your chances of falling victim to this scheme. If your personal information has been compromised, you could find that an identity thief has already filed a return using your Social Security number. When that happens, recovering the refund you are due can become a legal nightmare, and the process can stretch out for many months. Filing early is the best defense against this new and growing form of identity theft.
2. You Will Get Your Refund Sooner
One of the best reasons to stop procrastinating and file your taxes early is also one of the simplest. The sooner you file, the sooner you can start spending your refund money.
If you file electronically, you could have your tax refund in your bank account in as little as 7-10 days. If you put it off until the last minute, the influx of returns could delay your refund by several weeks or even a month or more.
3. You Will Save Yourself Some Stress
Whether you are due a refund or have to pay money to the IRS, putting things off to the last minute can be extremely stressful. If you file electronically, an April 15 power outage could cause you to miss the deadline and owe additional interest and penalties. If you plan to file by mail, something as simple as a traffic jam could derail your plans and cause your stress level to spike.
When you file long before the deadline, you can avoid that unnecessary stress. So gather up your paperwork, finish your return and treat yourself to something special after the filing is over.
There is no reason to put off tax filing any longer. You may still be waiting for some of the paperwork you need, but filing as soon as the last document arrives is a smart move.