While you may be planning to spend the last moments of December 31st counting down to the New Year (Yay, 2018!), we at Alfano & Company will spend them counting down to the new tax season (Yay, 2017 taxes!).

It’s natural to feel that tax season doesn’t start until sometime in April. After all, you have until April 16th to file your return and so surely you can just quickly take care of it a couple of days before the deadline, right? Or you might think you should file on January 1st – after all, you don’t want to wait too long for your tax refund! However, the real start of tax season falls somewhere in between.

You can certainly start gathering your tax documents in early January if you so wish. However, if you’re waiting on a W2 or 1099 from an employer don’t expect to receive it right away. Employers have until January 31st to mail these tax forms to you, so you might be checking the mail box every day until early February before you can provide everything to your tax preparer.

Say you miraculously receive all of your tax forms the first week of the year; you can file then, right? Not quite. The IRS doesn’t open their virtual doors until January 22nd so you won’t be able to e-file until then. [Jan 22 filing date NOT confirmed – check IRS press release for actual date sometime in December]

Even if you file right on January 22rd, you may experience some difficulties retrieving your refund. Last year Congress passed a law that requires the IRS to hold refunds on tax returns where the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) is being claimed. The IRS must hold the entire refund amount until at least February 15th.

However, just because there’s a lot to wait for in the early stages of tax season it doesn’t mean you should procrastinate and file in April instead. By waiting until April you’re up against the rush of the deadline. There’s a chance you’ll have forgotten to provide your tax preparer with all necessary tax documents, and by the time you gather the remaining information needed to file your return you can end up running out of time!

What do we suggest?

Start gathering your documents as soon as they start arriving in the mail. Make sure you keep them in a safe place so that you don’t have to search your house for your W2 10 minutes before your scheduled appointment with your tax preparer. Schedule your appointment for some time during the second half of February; at this time of year Alfano & Company will be open on Saturdays and certain evenings, so we’ll be more than able to meet with you a time that works well for your schedule! This will give your tax preparer ample time to work on your return, ask for any missing information, and still have plenty of time to complete your return before the deadline. You’ll feel at ease knowing that your tax preparer didn’t feel rushed when working on your tax return!

At Alfano & Company, we’ll need your tax forms by March 19th. Even if you don’t have everything ready by this date, please provide us with everything you currently have at that time. This will allow us to begin work on your return before the April rush begins.

If you’re wondering what tax information we’ll need, you can find a handy list here. And when you are ready to schedule your appointment, click here. We look forward to working with you this tax season!