Statistics show more and more Americans are waiting until the last two weeks to file their federal income taxes. In 2016, 29 million returns were collected in those final 14 days before the deadline, and 2019 saw even more Americans waiting to file due uncertainty about how the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changes would impact their returns.

With an average of over 50 percent waiting until April to file, it’s clear that taxes and procrastination go hand in hand. While delay is understandable, especially for taxpayers nervous or knowing they may owe a balance, it’s still more advantageous to file early-season. Whether you’ll get a return or owe a balance, there are many benefits to filing as early as possible and taking tax help when needed.

1. Leave Yourself Room For The Unexpected

While tax professionals are invaluable at helping you complete all your tax forms in the most advantageous way possible, they are at their busiest in those final weeks before the April 15th deadline. By waiting until this distracting rush hour to consult with your accountant in Sandy, you could miss out on a lot of time and attention they’d otherwise dedicate to making you fully tax-informed about this and future tax seasons.

You, too, are left with little time to research and gather the documents you need if you wait until the final rush.

All of the above increases the risk of tax preparation errors that could cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars. Plus, you’re leaving yourself little room to maneuver if you encounter a glitch.

2. Faster Return

Early to file equals a faster tax refund. Paper returns can delay your return by weeks. The most efficient method is electronically (e-file) with a direct deposit into your specified bank account.

Note that e-filed returns shouldn’t be completed before January 31, 2020, which is the deadline by which you should’ve received all your important tax forms. Your Salt Lake City, Utah accountant can help if you have any questions about e-file and/or the tax documents you need to prepare your return.

3. You’re Not Scrambling To Pay

Should you owe a balance on your return, it’s beneficial to know the exact amount of what you owe as soon as possible by preparing your Form 1040. Waiting until late-season March or April to file doesn’t change the fact that payment is still due by the April 15th deadline. You’ll have more time to arrange, or even save if need be, for your payment by filing your tax return early.

4. Gather Financial Information For Upcoming Life Events

For those planning a big life event in 2020, such as a home purchase, attending college, divorce, or prenuptial marriage, preparing your taxes early can provide an easy way to put your hands on some essential financial-proof info and offer a more complete and current financial overview for many legal processes.

College students, for example, need the Form 1040 info to apply for financial aid. For recent college graduates, this form is also used for income-based repayment plans on student loans. Likewise, homebuyers need this form as proof of income when applying for a mortgage.

5. Avoid The Need For A Tax Extension

Pushing the deadline when you self-file increases the probability of having to hire a tax professional for tax help when problems arise. If you file late-season and run into an organizational problem, data-collection issue, or technical glitch, then you’ll likely need to file an extension for more time to complete your taxes. Also keep in mind that not paying balances after filing an extension will result in incurring IRS interest and penalties until the debt is paid in full.

In most cases, the extension situation is completely avoidable by simply filing early enough to allow ample time to discover and solve the issues by collecting necessary documents, looking for additional deductions, and so forth.

6. Mitigate Tax Return Identity Theft Risk

Did you know that an identity thief has everything they need to file a fraudulent tax return in your name by just having access to your Social Security number? Now, they have access to any tax refund you’re due.

These criminals use timing to their advantage by filing in your name early in the tax season. By the time you attempt to file in March or April, months have gone by and any trail back to the culprit is cold. You can help yourself avoid this nightmare by protecting your social security number and filing your taxes as early as possible, which beats the criminals to the punch.

Do You Need Tax Help To File Early?

Taxes aren’t a fun subject, but it’s one of life’s necessities. So, why not make the process as seamless, smooth, and beneficial as possible for yourself? Turn the above benefits into a reality by filing your 2020 taxes early, and don’t forget that Salt Lake City, Utah tax preparation experts are available to help you with the entire process.