According to its website, the Internal Revenue Service expects to receive 155 million federal income tax returns before the current tax processing season ends April 17. Nearly 70 percent of the individuals and families who file a tax return this year will receive a refund¹.
“The IRS has a number of ways to help taxpayers this filing season,” Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter said in a press release the agency sent out Jan. 29 to mark that start of this year’s tax season.
Those ways include filling out an online tax return with a commercial tax preparation software package like TurboTax, enlisting the help of a commercial or nonprofit tax preparation service, and downloading the forms you need from the IRS’ website so you can fill them out yourself.
But no matter what method you choose, here are a few things to keep in mind to guarantee your tax season will be a smooth one and involve as few headaches as possible:
- Refund schedule: Filing your taxes online and using a direct deposit feature is the quickest way to get your refund this year if one is due. The IRS estimates nine out of every 10 tax refunds will be processed in less than 21 days. However, people who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) will not receive their refunds until after Feb. 27 because these two deductions are common targets of fraud and need extra scrutiny.
- Prevent identity theft: Filing your return early, equipping your computer with a good security package, and using a strong password when you create your account are three steps you can take to prevent identity theft this year. And remember, the IRS will never use e-mail, text messages, or social media to request your personal or financial information – which means anyone who does is probably a scammer².
- Last minute deductions: Contributing money to a traditional IRA before April 17, 2018, can help people reduce their 2017 taxable incomes and the total amount they might owe the IRS this year. Itemizing your tax deductions rather than claiming the standard deduction could also reduce what you owe³.
Finally, the much-discussed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that President Donald J. Trump signed into law last December did not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2018. This means that with a few exceptions you won’t have to worry about any of the changes it brings until it’s time to file your 2018 tax return next year.
However, now is the perfect time to take note of whatever tax credits or deductions you’re claiming this year and compare that list to the list of what will be affected by the tax reform package. This way, you’ll be a step ahead when it’s time to file your 2018 tax return.