At this time of year, filing tax returns ranks right up there with public speaking as among the scariest things we have to do in life. That’s why many of us put off tax preparation until the last minute.

However, this year you want to take a deep breath and dive into tax preparation early. There are many reasons for filing your 2014 income tax return sooner rather than letting the calendar edge closer to the April 15 due date. Here are five (in no particular order):


You’re getting money back

For heaven’s sake, if you believe you have a tax refund coming, don’t let the government keep your money any longer! Get your documents together and head to your local tax preparer. According to the IRS, early filers who use direct deposit can expect their refund within 21 days.


Fraud or identity theft

Becoming a victim of identity theft has crept into the top five fears most of us have, and technology advances have escalated those concerns. If you file your tax return early in the season, you’re less likely to become a victim of a fraudster trying to collect a refund in your name. Here’s why: Criminals tend to file fraudulent returns early, so they can get to the IRS before you. If you file a return and the IRS notifies you that more than one return has been filed using your personal information, you contact the IRS as directed, talk with your tax preparer and follow the steps you would if your wallet had been stolen, including:

  1. File a police report; 
  2. Have a fraud alert placed on your credit file;   
  3. Contact your bank or financial institution and discuss whether to close existing accounts. 


Family matters

If you experienced a life-changing family event in 2014, such as marriage, divorce, a baby or other family transition, your tax return likely will not look like it did when you filed last year. Getting professional advice early can help you get your return prepared well in advance of the April 15 deadline. This tax calculator may help, too.


You think you may owe money

Surprised you on this one, right? We’re not suggesting you file early if you owe money. Instead, it makes sense to get the tax preparation out of the way so you will you know precisely what you owe and you will have time before the April 15 deadline to figure out how you’re going to pay. Remember, even if you need to file for a tax extension, you still need to pay any tax that may be owed by April 15.


Get that monkey off your back!

Here’s the bottom line ... the sooner you file your income tax return, the sooner you’ll be free of the responsibility. The longer you wait, the longer you prolong the agony of getting it done. So make that appointment with your tax preparer ... today!

By Denise Bridges