CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tax season is already here and financial experts say it's more important than ever to file your returns early.
It's getting a late start after the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) pushed back the start of filing until Feb. 12. According to the IRS, they needed more time to prepare after the CARES Act and second stimulus payments in December.
First, the earlier you file, the earlier you'll get your refund. For millions of people impacted by the pandemic, that's money they desperately need right now.
If you didn't get the most recent round of stimulus money, now is the time to get it. The IRS says you have to claim it when you file. When preparing your taxes, look for line 30 on the 1040 tax form. Fill out the Recovery Rebate Credit to get the money you're owed if eligible.
"You're entitled to it anyway, so you want to make sure you get it," American Institute of CPA's Cari Weston said. "Even if it just simply reduces the tax you already owe."
Another benefit to filing early is reducing the risk of fraud or identity theft. Criminals use stolen Social Security numbers to steal refunds. If they beat you to filling, it's your responsibility, not the IRS', to prove fraud. This will delay any refund from hitting your bank account.
Finally, if you're someone who owes money, experts say filing early can help you budget and avoid late fees or interest on your bill.
Despite the late start to tax season, the deadline to get your returns filed remains April 15.