This year, federal tax returns for 2017 must be postmarked by April 17th. Of course, to procrastinators like myself, this seems like an eternity away. However, there are many good reasons to fight off that laziness and get your taxes filed early this time around.
First there’s good news in that it’s becoming increasingly easier to prepare your returns without leaving your house. Moreover many tax filing sites now offer a completely free option, although their stipulations about what types of forms the free offering supports may vary. If your tax situation makes you ineligible for one of the complimentary options, there are plenty of different plans you can try depending on how much support you’ll need along the way. Given the abundance of options, it’s best to start looking now so you don’t end up in a time crunch situation later.
Another great reason to file early is that, the sooner you send in your return, the sooner you can receive your refund if applicable. As for what you should do with that refund, it’s really up to you. That said, I’d personally recommend starting an emergency fund, adding it to an account that pays you interest, or perhaps even dipping your toe into investing. If all of those options sound boring, perhaps your refund is best suited to serve as your travel fund for your next vacation (admittedly, this is likely where ours is going).
On the other side of the coin, there is always the unfortunate possibility that you’ll actually owe money on your taxes. Making matters worse, if you’re doing your taxes at the last minute, you might not have the money on hand to cover this bill. At least if you know that this is coming ahead of time, you’ll hopefully be able to save up.
Finally, there is actually the possibility that someone could steal your identity and claim your tax rebate before you do. This might sound crazy, but it does happen. In fact the IRS has taken steps to prevent the issue and offered advice on how you can take to protect yourself. While it may already be too late to thwart thieves trying to steal your refund, filing as early as possible can still help.
While you’ll still technically have a couple of months before you must file your 2017 tax returns, there are some good reasons not to wait. With that deadline drawing near, now is the time to get organized and get your taxes done. Hey — after you do, you’ll have a whole year to slack off once again.