How Early Can You File Your Tax Returns?

The year is coming to an end and amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season sit another season of its own-tax season.

The season is hopeful that this year will be gift-bearing with a nicely sized tax return, in some cases you may end up owing more to the IRS than expected. However,it is nonetheless a necessary season in the year and should not be avoided.

Avoiding tax payments is a serious offense and can result in severe punishments.

As tax season approaches, you may be asking:

“How soon can I file my tax return?”

or “When exactly does tax season begin?”

The answers to these questions depend on a few things, and while filing early may seem like a way to get your return earlier, this is not always the case.

Before you can file your taxes, you first must have all of the relevant paperwork.

Sometimes the paperwork you need will not be seen, not out until later in January.

For example, for 2017 taxes that were to be filed in 2018, employers had until January 31 to send out W-2  and 1099 forms, while the official start date of tax season was January 29.

You should not file until you have all of the appropriate documentation. Filing prematurely can massively delay your return in the long run.

In addition to your W-2’s and 1099’s, you should also be sure to have your mortgage interest statements, any investment income information, social security benefits, and so on.

The likelihood of having all of the required documentation before the start date of tax season is slim, but even if you do get all of the documents you need before the filing date, this does not mean that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will immediately process and file your return.

If you try to send in your return by mail before the official start date (when e-filing opens), it will not do anything to speed up the filing of your tax return.

There is no advantage to mailing in your return early instead of waiting to e-file because if you do choose to mail your return in early, it will just sit in the queue until the official start date of tax season arrives.

Tax Deadline

The deadline to file is usually towards the middle of April, and the gap between the start date and the filing deadline is known as tax season.

Although the IRS will not accept returns before the official start date of tax season, many tax preparation companies will.

However, they cannot submit your returns to the IRS until the system opens.

As far as the refund timeline, the IRS has never committed to a timetable; it is safe to assume that your refund will be issued approximant within 21 days after filing.

However in some instances, it can take up to six weeks after you mail in your paper return; and if you request a paper check, rather than direct deposit, the IRS suggests adding ten days to allow for the postal delivery process.

The quickest way to get your refund is through a direct deposit because as soon as the return is processed, the money can be delivered to your account.

However, no matter how early you file your return, all returns claiming Earned Income Tax Credit, or Additional Child Tax Credit will not be issued before mid-February.

Once you have filed your return, you can utilize the “Where’s my Refund” tool via the IRS website to track your refund process and the expected date your refund will be mailed out or direct deposited to you.

If you are unable to file before the filing deadline, you can submit an extension.

This six-month extension would push your filing deadline to mid-October.

Regardless, payment of any taxes due for the year would still be due in mid-April at the deadline.

If you do not pay your taxes by the April deadline, it is likely that the IRS will issue payment penalties or will charge you interest on what you owe.


Tax season begins in mid-late January and ends in Mid-April. In 2018, the tax season started on January 29 and ended on April 17.

If you are unable to file taxes before the April deadline, you can request an extension.

In 2018, this pushed the filing deadline to October 15, 2018.

It is not possible to file taxes before the official start date of the tax season, which will be realized by the IRS in early January.

If you gain access to all of the documents required to fil your rerun you can have a tax preparation company prepare your taxes before the opening date, however, they can not be submitted until the official date in which e-filing opens as well.

Once your return is filed, you can expect your refund to be issued within about 21 days, though sometimes it takes about six weeks for returns filed through paper mail.

Though filing as soon as possible does not necessarily mean you will get your tax return faster, tax returns are not something you should avoid or delay.

If you have the appropriate documentation, you should file as soon as you are able. If you have any questions about tax season.

So what other ways have you been able to maximize for help with your taxes? Just leave a comment below with some of the ways that have worked for you.

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