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8 Reasons Why You Should File Taxes Early in 2024

The IRS began accepting tax returns on January 29th, 2024. Learn more about why you should file taxes early and how to stay safe this tax season.

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      When Can You File Your 2023 Taxes? 

      Federal tax returns aren’t due until April 15, 2024 — but most people can benefit from filing their taxes early. Beyond giving you more time to properly file (and avoid a delayed return), filing early is the easiest way to avoid tax-related identity theft. 

      Tax identity theft happens when a criminal files a tax return in your name and uses your Social Security Number (SSN) to claim your tax refund

      According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [*]:

      “Last year, there were more than 111,000 cases of tax-related identity theft.” 

      If you want to avoid tax fraud in 2024, maximize your return, and minimize the chances of an audit, it pays to file taxes early. 

      In this guide, we’ll share eight reasons why you should file your taxes early — and show you how to make sure you’ve gathered all the information and documentation that you need to file your federal income tax returns properly the first time.


      What’s the Earliest You Can File Taxes for 2023?

      The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) typically follows the same schedule each year for accepting returns. 

      Here are the most important due dates for the 2024 tax filing season [*]:

      • Returns started being accepted: Monday, January 29, 2024
      • Tax day (due date for 2023 federal income tax returns): Monday, April 15, 2024
      • Due date for Maine and Massachusetts: Wednesday, April 17, 2024
      • Latest due date (if you request a free six-month extension): Tuesday, October 15, 2024

      This means that the earliest you could file your 2023 taxes was January 29th, while the absolute final deadline in most cases is October 15th, 2024. 

      If you're confused about what to claim on your 2023 tax return, it's always a good idea to speak with a certified tax professional.

      💪 Protect yourself from fraudsters and tax scammers. If criminals have your SSN or tax information, they could take out loans or credit cards in your name. Try Aura’s award-winning identity theft protection with 250x faster fraud alerts and secure your finances against scammers.

      Why You Should File Your Taxes Early in 2024: Eight Benefits

      1. Avoid (or catch) tax identity theft
      2. Get your individual tax return quicker
      3. Avoid the tax season rush
      4. Take time to accurately file and maximize your return
      5. Give yourself time to save up to pay any owed taxes
      6. Shift tax burdens and reduce your tax bill
      7. Avoid penalties and interest from late payments
      8. Reduce errors and mistakes

      Here are the best reasons why you should file your taxes early in 2023:

      1. Avoid (or catch) tax identity theft

      Scammers can use your personal information to file taxes under your name, claim bogus income and benefits, and pocket the refund. 

      Typically, these scammers will try to file taxes early — before you have a chance to submit a legitimate return. If this happens, your own tax return will be rejected because a return using your Social Security number (SSN) will have already been processed. 

      Warning signs of tax identity theft:

      • You can’t electronically file your tax return due to a duplicate SSN. Aura can monitor your SSN and help warn you that someone is using your personal data without your permission. 
      • You get an IRS notice in the mail about an online account created in your name that you didn’t make.
      • You receive a Letter 4883C from the IRS inquiring about a suspicious tax return that you did not file.
      • Your IRS record states that you earned income from an employer whom you didn’t work for. An example of this would be that you were assigned an Employer Identification Number (EIN) that you didn’t request.
      • You were mailed a tax transcript that you didn’t ask for, or you received an IRS notice about a year for which you haven’t filed a tax return. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize they are victims of tax identity theft until the IRS Taxpayer Protection Program notifies them. 

      What to do if you realize you’re the victim of tax identity theft: File a paper tax return, and complete and attach Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit. The IRS will mail you a letter acknowledging your form and will work with you to resolve your identity theft case. You should also contact your state tax agency to see if you need to take additional actions.

      2. Get your individual tax return quicker

      Many Americans wait until the last few days to file their federal taxes [*]. As a result, taxes filed closer to the due date can encounter processing delays. For instance, at the end of May 2022, the IRS still had 21.3 million unprocessed paper tax returns [*]. 

      Filing your federal taxes early allows you to avoid potential processing delays and receive your tax refund faster, such as for the child tax credit.  

      Steps to get a refund faster:

      • Make sure you have all of the documents, forms, and information that you need for filing by mid-February. Be certain to double-check your forms for any errors or omissions. 
      • Then, file your federal taxes early (ideally before April) electronically. And make sure to select direct deposit to expedite a faster refund.  

      3. Avoid the tax season rush

      By preparing early, you’ll have time to fully understand any changes (for either your particular situation or the tax law) that may impact your filing. 

      You’ll also have more time to vet and get assistance from a legitimate tax professional (if needed). Tax preparers typically aren’t as busy in January and February as they are in April. So working on your taxes early will ensure that you can get help if you need it, and that a professional will have ample time to address your issues and concerns. 

      However, beware that there are fraudulent tax preparers out there who could steal your personal information or amend your tax return without your knowledge. 

      Warning signs of fraudulent tax preparers:

      • They want you to sign a blank tax return form. Scammers want to modify your return without your knowledge. Never sign a return that you haven’t been able to thoroughly review yourself. 
      • They won’t sign your tax return. Tax preparers should always sign your tax return. If they don’t, or use fraudulent information, it’s a scam. 
      • They charge an upfront fee. Make sure you understand how you’ll be charged for their services. Some fraudulent tax preparers charge high upfront fees or request a percentage of your return.
      • They promote refund anticipation loans. Don’t pay fees or high interest rates to receive your refund faster. Remember, you can check the status of your return using the IRS’ Where’s My Refund? tool.
      • They’re in a temporary location. While not always a red flag, fraudulent tax preparers use temporary locations to find victims — and then disappear when the IRS discovers issues. 

      Zoom out: Protect your personal information by creating an individual data security plan for your tax professional to follow. IRS Publication 4557 provides some actionable advice on how to create your own plan.  

      4. Take time to accurately file and maximize your return

      Filing early (or at least starting your taxes early) gives you time to double-check your return and maximize your refund amount by ensuring that you’ve applied for all of the deductions to which you’re entitled. 

      🎯 Related: How To Avoid The 10 Latest IRS Scams This Tax Season

      5. Give yourself time to save up to pay any owed taxes

      If you owe money or more than you expected, filing your taxes early will give you more time to save up the money — as you don’t have to pay until the filing deadline. 

      6. Shift tax burdens and reduce your tax bill

      You can also take time to lower your taxable income or push yourself into a lower tax bracket. Here are a few ways you can shift your tax burdens:

      • Take advantage of tax credits, like the earned income tax credit 
      • Contribute to a 529 savings plan
      • Contribute to a retirement plan, like a 401(k) or Roth IRA
      • Add to your Health Savings Account (HSA)
      • Harvest investment losses
      • Maximize business expenses
      • Claim charitable contributions made before Dec. 31st of last year

      🎯 Related: What Is Credit Monitoring? Do You Really Need It?

      7. Avoid penalties and interest from late payments

      If you fail to file in time, you can be penalized up to 5% of the unpaid taxes for each month your return is late [*]. Additionally, you’ll also be charged a penalty and interest for not paying. While these penalties max out after five months, you could owe up to a maximum of 25% of the unpaid tax.

      While you can dispute penalties, this takes time and effort. It’s always better to file and pay on time or file an extension if needed.  

      8. Reduce errors and mistakes

      Filing an accurate tax return doesn’t just ensure that you get the best possible return — it can also help you avoid costly and time-consuming audits. 

      Before you file your taxes, make sure you take time to:

      • Check your official documents for any and all errors
      • Make sure you have all the documents you need before filing
      • Double-check for any new tax laws or changes that may impact you
      • Get tax advice from a CPA, tax accountant, or other personal finance professional
      Avoid the worst consequences of identity theft. Aura’s award-winning identity theft protection includes up to $1 million in coverage for eligible losses due to identity theft. Try Aura risk free today.

      What Documents Do You Need Before You Can File Your Taxes?

      The types of tax documents you need to file will vary based on your personal situation. 

      However, at a minimum. you’ll need documents that confirm your income for the year, show your personal information, support your deductions, and help with tax credits.

      Information and documents that you may need include: 

      Personal and financial information:
      • Social Security number (SSN) or tax ID number
      • If married, your spouse’s full name, SSN, and date of birth
      • Any Identity Protection PINs if you or your spouse have been assigned one
      • Bank account routing and account numbers if you’re receiving your refund by direct deposit, or to pay what you owe
      • Date of birth, SSN, and income of any dependants
      Information about income sources and investments:
      • W-2 if employed, 1099-G if unemployed 
      • Forms 1099, schedules K-1; if self-employed, 1099-MISC or 1099-NEC 
      • Records of income and expenses for any rental income, and estimated tax payments made using Form 1040-ES 
      • Retirement income from pension, IRA, or annuity income (form 1099-R), and/or Social Security/RRB income (SSA-1099, RRB-1099)
      • Income from sales of stock or other property (1099-B, 1099-S)
      • Interest and dividend income (1099-INT, 1099-OID, 1099-DIV)
      • Cryptocurrency, NFTs, and other types of income or loss (1099-B or 1099-DIV)
      • Record of any estimated tax payments you made (Form 10400ES)
      Proof of deductions:
      • Retirement account contributions
      • Education expenses
      • Medical bills
      • Property taxes and mortgage interest
      • Charitable donations
      • State and local taxes as applicable

      🎯 Related: The 13 Latest Tax Refund Scams To Watch Out For

      What Are the Standard Deductions for 2023 Taxes?

      When filing your taxes, you can decide to either take the standard deductions or itemize your deductions — whichever will reduce your tax obligations the most.

      If you decide to itemize, you will need to keep records that support your deductions in case you’re audited.

      Here are the standard deductions for 2023 taxes [*]:

      • $13,850 for single filers and married couples filing separately
      • $27,700 for married couples filing jointly
      • $20,800 for head of household filers

      Additionally, individuals who are blind or 65 years of age or older may be eligible for additional standard tax deductions. The amount will vary based on marital status and if the person is both blind and 65 or older [*].

      Should You File Taxes Online, In-Person, or via Mail?

      The IRS recommends filing your taxes online through e-filing when possible [*]. You can file electronically by using the IRS Free File or fillable forms — or with commercial tax software, like Turbotax. 

      Some of the benefits of e-filing your taxes include:

      • Ensuring a more complete and accurate return since the program will do the math for you
      • Receiving your refund faster by avoiding processing delays related to paper returns
      • The ability to schedule any payments you may owe, which helps you avoid missing the payment deadline

      Submitting a paper filing through the mail will take longer to process. The IRS typically takes six to eight weeks to process these returns, but it can take up to six months or more [*]. 

      If you’ve been the victim of identity theft and can’t file electronically, you’ll want to file a paper form via mail and include the Form 14039 Identity Theft Affidavit [*]. 

      🎯 Related: Did Someone Use Your SSN To File Taxes? Do This

      What Happens If You Miss the 2023 Tax Year Deadline?

      If you miss the 2023 tax year deadline, you will start to accrue the “failure to file” penalty [*]. 

      The penalty amount varies based on how late you file and the amount you owe. You can also be charged a penalty for failing to pay, alongside interest for these penalties.

      You can avoid penalties by filing and paying any taxes by the 2023 tax deadline. Or you can file for a tax extension if you need more time to file, or apply for a payment plan (if needed) to help reduce future penalties.  

      Avoid Stress (and Scammers) by Filing Early

      Whether you’re a small business or individual, filing your taxes early has numerous benefits, including reducing the risk of tax fraud. 

      By filing early and accurately this tax year before anyone else can use your information, you’ll beat fraudsters to the punch and secure a smoother, quicker processing of your return. 

      Stay safe from hackers and scammers. Try Aura risk free today.

      Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you to increase awareness about digital safety. Aura’s services may not provide the exact features we write about, nor may cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat discussed in our articles. Please review our Terms during enrollment or setup for more information. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime.

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