Early tax filing brings quicker refunds

Published 11:59 pm Thursday, January 1, 2009

Although it may seem like April 15 is far away, experts say it is never too early to get started on taxes.

Debbie Bryan, owner of Bryan Tax and Accounting in Opp, said that there are several advantages to filing income taxes as soon as possible.

“Go ahead and get them out of the way as soon as you can, so you don’t forget,” Bryan said. “Obviously the earlier you file, the earlier you can get a refund. And even if you owe, go ahead and file now — you won’t have to pay until April 15, and you’ll also get a reminder about the deadline in the mail or e-mail.”

The days of filling out complicated paper forms are all but gone. Thanks to the Internet and modern technology, taxpayers can now “e-file” their return from their home computer. The computer does the math and the taxpayer just needs to fill in a few blanks. More information on e-filing is available by visiting www.irs.gov.

“To me, e-filing will eventually be the only way to go,” Bryan said. “Paper forms can get lost, misplaced, or whatever, but when you e-file you know that it’s not going to get lost and the return will go straight to the IRS.

“Also, if you e-file, it’s really easy to set up a direct deposit for your refund.”

Bryan added that she expects more of her customers to file early this year, in order to get a possible refund in their wallets as soon as possible.

“The majority of my customers last year were people who liked to wait,” she said. “I probably had about 30 percent who wanted to file right away and get that check right away, but the rest were content to wait for their refund. I think that this year, we’ll probably see more people file early because they need the refund money right now in this economy.”

Regardless of when a taxpayer decides to file, Bryan said it is important to have all forms and paperwork ready.

“You should keep track of all your receipts,” she said. “Keep track of any kind of medical expenses that you have to pay out of pocket — things like glasses, dental and co-pays. Keep track of your prescriptions, including birth control pills, and any taxes that you pay on your car tags or property. Even if you don’t itemize for your federal income taxes, it can still help you when you file for state income taxes.”