Why it's a good idea to file your taxes early - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Why it's a good idea to file your taxes early

By SARAH SKIDMORE SELL
AP Personal Finance Writer

Tax season is here, and while you have until April 18 to file your return, you may want to think about doing so sooner rather than later. Here are a few expert tips on why:

IDENTITY THEFT

Filing early essentially beats criminals to the punch.

Identity theft is a growing problem and one often tied to tax refund fraud, said Mark Steber, chief tax officer at Jackson Hewitt Tax Service. Once your return is filed with the IRS, the information - in particular your social security number - is locked and cannot be used again by anyone else.

Steber suggests filing early to secure the information and your refund. It's one of the easiest forms of identity protection.

FASTER RETURNS

If you're due a tax refund, the sooner you file the sooner you'll get it.

Lisa Greene-Lewis, CPA and TurboTax expert, said that last tax season close to three out of four tax filers received a tax refund, and the average refund was about $2,800. That's a big boost to many households.

While some delays are expected this year for filers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit, the IRS still expects to issue more than nine out of 10 refunds in under three weeks from the day a return is received.

BETTER PREPARATION

Filing early gives you time to more carefully prepare your returns.

People who wait until the last minute may forget something in their rush, Greene-Lewis said. Starting earlier gives you more time to gather your paperwork and seek help if needed.

You should have received most of your tax paperwork by Jan. 31.

If you owe money, filing early gives you more time to save up the cash, as your bill isn't due until April 18th.

The bulk of taxpayers are not procrastinators, Greene-Lewis said. About 20 percent file in the last two weeks before the deadline, and another 10 to 12 percent pay later, but the majority file earlier. She pointed out that with all the improvements in tax filing software and support available, there are few excuses to delay.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • NationalMore>>

  • NRA spokeswoman becomes new face of gun rights movement

    NRA spokeswoman becomes new face of gun rights movement

    Sunday, February 25 2018 8:55 AM EST2018-02-25 13:55:59 GMT
    Sunday, February 25 2018 6:17 PM EST2018-02-25 23:17:52 GMT
    (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin). In this Feb. 22, 2018, photo, Dana Loesch, spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at National Harbor, Md. She is poised, photogenic and articulate _ th...(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin). In this Feb. 22, 2018, photo, Dana Loesch, spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at National Harbor, Md. She is poised, photogenic and articulate _ th...
    In the aftermath of the Florida school shooting, the National Rifle Association has turned to Dana Loesch as its main messenger.More >>
    In the aftermath of the Florida school shooting, the National Rifle Association has turned to Dana Loesch as its main messenger.More >>
  • California Democratic Party won't endorse Dianne Feinstein

    California Democratic Party won't endorse Dianne Feinstein

    Sunday, February 25 2018 1:26 PM EST2018-02-25 18:26:21 GMT
    Sunday, February 25 2018 6:17 PM EST2018-02-25 23:17:36 GMT
    (AP Photo/Denis Poroy). Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., speaks at the 2018 California Democrats State Convention Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, in San Diego.(AP Photo/Denis Poroy). Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., speaks at the 2018 California Democrats State Convention Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, in San Diego.
    U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has failed to win the official endorsement of the California Democratic Party as she seeks her fifth term in Washington.More >>
    U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has failed to win the official endorsement of the California Democratic Party as she seeks her fifth term in Washington.More >>
  • Students return to Florida school where 17 were killed

    Students return to Florida school where 17 were killed

    Sunday, February 25 2018 11:06 AM EST2018-02-25 16:06:00 GMT
    Sunday, February 25 2018 6:06 PM EST2018-02-25 23:06:59 GMT
    The head of the Broward County Sheriff's Office says only one of his deputies was on the scene of a shooting at a Florida high school that resulted in 17 deaths.More >>
    The head of the Broward County Sheriff's Office says only one of his deputies was on the scene of a shooting at a Florida high school that resulted in 17 deaths.More >>
Powered by Frankly