Even if you usually wait to file until closer to the April 15 deadline, this year consider filing as soon as you can. Why? You can protect yourself from tax identity theft — and reap other benefits, too.

Tax Identity Theft

Tax identity theft involves someone using your personal information to file a fraudulent tax return to claim your refund.

Most discover the fraud when you file your taxes and they are rejected. The IRS will tell you that they have already received your taxes for that year. While you should ultimately be able to prove that your return is the legitimate one, tax identity theft can cause major headaches to straighten out and significantly delay your refund.

Filing early helps prevent yours from getting rejected and having to follow through with the steps to get back your identity.

Have you received your W-2s and 1099s?

To file your tax return, you must have received all of your W-2s and 1099s. January 31 was the deadline for employers to issue 2018 Form W-2 to employees and, generally, for businesses to issue Form 1099 to recipients of any 2018 interest, dividend or reportable miscellaneous income payments.

If you haven’t received a W-2 or 1099, first contact the entity that should have issued it. If that doesn’t work, you can contact the IRS for help.

Receive your tax refund early

Besides protecting yourself from tax identity theft, the most obvious benefit of filing early is that, if you’re getting a refund, you’ll get that refund sooner. The IRS expects more than nine out of ten refunds to be issued within 21 days.

But even if you owe tax, filing early can be beneficial. You still won’t need to pay your tax bill until April 15, but you’ll know sooner how much you owe and can plan accordingly. Keep in mind that some taxpayers who typically have gotten refunds in the past could find themselves owing tax when they file their 2018 return due to tax law changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and reduced withholding from 2018 paychecks.

Have questions?

If you have questions about tax identity theft or would like help filing your 2018 return early, please contact us. While the new Form 1040 essentially does fit on a postcard, many taxpayers will also have to complete multiple schedules along with the form. And the TCJA has changed many tax breaks. We can help you ensure you file an accurate return that takes advantage of all of the breaks available to you.