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Complete 99% of Your Tax Return Now

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Income Tax OfficeDid you know that 30% of taxpayers file by the first week of February? I found it difficult to believe but apparently it’s true, according to an email I received from the folks at TaxCut. 30% of people file between January 1st and February 7th. Of course, the other 70% file on April 15th!

Why File So Early?

People file early because they want their tax refund as quickly as possible. Why wait until April 15th to file when the government owes you money? If your only income is from your job (and maybe some bank interest), chances are you the government owes you a tax refund unless you adjusted your tax withholding. If you didn’t adjust your withholdings on your W-4, I’m fairly confident the government will owe you money and by not filing ASAP you are extending the interest free loan.

The reason why people even have to wait in until the first week of February is because employers and banks have until January 31st to mail out W-2s and 1099-INTs. However, that doesn’t mean you have to wait until the first week to begin the filing process. If you have your December pay stub, you will have pretty accurate numbers to use as placeholders. You can look up all your bank interest by calling or logging in to your bank account and looking for a tax form. While I would wait until the official W-2 form arrives before e-filing (especially since they will ask for information not typically printed on your stub), nothing stops you from filling out the form now and updating the numbers when your W-2 arrives.

What You Can Do Now

So, want to get a jump? First, check to see if you qualify for free tax preparation. There’s no sense paying for software if you can get it for free. If you earn under $52,000 a year, you can access the IRS Free File Program (details to come Jan 16th) as well.

If you don’t qualify, you have the option of going online or buying the software in a box. In the past, I used TurboTax Online a few times. I don’t think there’s much difference between TurboTax and TaxCut, outside of pricing. I personally like the online version because I’m comfortable entering all that sensitive information online but if you aren’t, the software from a box is just as good.

With the exception of your income, you already have every other piece of information. You already know all of your tax deductions, all the tax credits you should be eligible for (if not, the tax preparation software will ask you), and everything else the form or software will require. You’re just missing the official income numbers, which will arrive by early February. Fill out everything else and wait for your official tax forms. With your placeholder numbers, you have a good idea of the refund (or tax due). If you end up owing tax, just wait until April! :)

I always e-file and I always opt for direct deposit. By e-filing, you don’t have to worry about the post office losing it or having your sensitive information floating around. By direct depositing, you get your money much faster. If you e-file your taxes on February 6th and requested direct deposit, you can get your rebate within two weeks. Last year, if you filed within the first week of February, you received the direct deposit by February 13th! (2008 schedule)

(Photo: thetruthabout)

{ 14 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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14 Responses to “Complete 99% of Your Tax Return Now”

  1. Patrick says:

    Just waiting on my tax forms… This is my first year with a variety of 1099s for my business income – so I think it’s going to take me a little more time this year than in the past!

    And I do the same – I use the online preparation software, e-file, and opt for direct deposit. It’s faster and makes my life easier. :)

  2. JI Surfer says:

    Even if you owe money…which I usually do, file early becuase the payment is not due until the 15th regardless of when you file.

  3. Ken says:

    Well, ours are done, likely file tonight.

    $2100 for the IRA.

  4. Miss M says:

    I did a prelim run through of my taxes last weekend, I want a laptop and was hoping I’d find a big fat refund to pay for one. Of course I didn’t find one since I adjust my withholding pretty much exactly. I won’t have precise numbers till sometime in February. For any California readers they need to file before Feb 1 if they are expecting a refund, the state is bankrupt and will start issuing IOUs not refunds after the 1st!

  5. velvet jones says:

    I got my w-2 yesterday. I went online and pulled my 1099s today, so the plan is to file my taxes tonight. Woo hoo!

    Last year I filed on Jan. 27 and get my refund (direct deposit) less than 10 days later.

    So yeah, I’m ALL about filing early.

  6. tom says:

    Personally I do my taxes early too because I want to get it done ahead of time so I don’t leave it till the last minute. Also, a lot of people leave it till the end which puts you in a situation where you are running with the herd (so to speak).

    But ya, 30% people file early because they need to pay off debt, they accumulated from the holidays. Just my thought on that.

  7. Sam says:

    I don’t think I will be one of those 30% this year, but I have been one in the past. It just feels good to get it out of the way and not worry about it sometimes. Then by the time April rolls around and it is on the news you are like, oh they are still doing that. Glad I am not one of those nuts running to the post office at midnight.

  8. ChristianPF says:

    I am normally one of the 30%, it is bad enough that they normally get a small but free loan from me, I don’t want it to last any longer than it has to…

  9. I got my W-2 and mortgage statement the first week of January and more or less have my taxes done and ready to submit, but I’m waiting on my wife’s W-2 and 1099-INTs. It’s really frustrating, and, while I’m not desperate for that money (not quite $1000,) I want it now! :)

  10. thomas says:

    I’m slowing getting my tax documents in. The great part about using online services is that your information is saved. That’s a huge time saver right off the bat.

  11. Start-Up says:

    I usually file well in advance of the deadline, but I just can’t find the time to get it done at the beginning of February.

    I do like to keep a folder for all of my deduction or business expense information to make it easier when I finally do get around to it. I highly recommend doing this, it’s a real time saver.

  12. jenna says:

    I filed before January 27th on e-file with direct deposit and no $ yet!!! Any ideas!!?? Its February 10th!!


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