Congratulations, you’ve finally made it to the best week in the entire tax season to file your return.
What makes it the best week? A few things, actually…
Tax filing season begins January 28
Maybe you did your taxes yourself with online software or by working with a tax preparer as soon as you got your W-2 this year.
That was a week or so ago, right? Well, here’s a surprise — even though you think you “filed” at that time, you actually didn’t.
That return you “filed” doesn’t actually get processed until the IRS system officially opens — and now we’ve reached that point.
On the other hand, maybe you’re not normally an early bird. In your case, you might still want to think about filing ASAP for the following reasons…
1. You’ll get your return sooner
If you e-file this week and elect for direct deposit, you’ll likely get your refund during the week of February 11. That’s according to our 2019 estimated tax refund schedule.
Special note: Refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit are automatically delayed, as the IRS is required to hold your money.
So even if you filed today, February 27 is the earliest you would see your refund — provided you choose direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return.
2. You’ll beat the tax refund thieves
Tax return identity theft has emerged as a big problem. That’s when someone steals your Social Security number and files a false return as if they were you. Then, when you go to legitimately file your return, it gets rejected by the IRS because they think you’re the impostor.
With the Equifax security breach exposing the info of nearly 150 million of us in 2017, this is no time to dilly-dally when it comes to filing your return.
3. You can file your taxes for free — no matter your income
The IRS Free File program offers free tax prep for people with incomes below $66,000.
If you earn more $66,000, Credit Karma offers truly free tax filing with no income limits. So now there’s no excuse not to file as soon as possible!
4. Filing helps you decide about withholding adjustments
Here’s a news flash: Getting a big refund every year isn’t really a good thing. It means you’ve made a loan to the government during the past year and now they’re paying you back — without interest.
The smarter play if you’re used to huge refunds is to reduce your withholding. Having less money held out of every paycheck means you get it each pay period instead of having to wait once a year to get it in one lump sum when you over-withhold.
By lowering your withholding, you won’t get a big refund next year. But you can put that extra money to work all year long in your life, not the government’s.
Because of the new tax law, adjusting your withholding is more crucial than ever this year — though it is a bit of a moving target this year because of the new withholding tables.
The IRS knows there’s still lingering confusion about the new tax law. That’s why the agency has announced it will be waiving the penalty on estimated taxes this year — with some exclusions.
This one-time pass gives you a good opportunity to check your withholding using the IRS Paycheck Checkup tool.
While it’s too late to do anything about the past tax year, at least you can make sure you’re having enough withheld so you won’t have to pay the penalty next year.
5. Once you’re done, you can get on with the rest of your financial life!
Filing taxes is a big undertaking that dominates most people’s lives during the first quarter of every new year.
6. You’ll avoid uncertainty around another potential government shutdown
We’ve gotten a temporary reprieve to open the government fully for three weeks as the two political parties continue negotiations around border security. That’s put some 800,000 federal employees back to work with pay.
But there’s potentially another shutdown looming by mid-February if they can’t reach a compromise by then.
While the IRS has repeatedly said it will process refunds during a shutdown, why leave it to chance?