How Early Can I File My Tax Return in 2020?

Tax season is here! And you’re going to have to file your tax return for the 2019 tax year at some point or another. In our opinion, you should get started on your taxes as soon as humanly possible. We’re punctual like that.

However, we’re not here to regale you with the benefits of filing your tax return early. We’ve already done that. So, just trust us when we say: It’s good. You can get your tax refund earlier, plan for any tax payments, and even avoid fraud!

Assuming you’ve been fully convinced so far and you’re ready to file your taxes ASAP, we want to use this article to clear up another question. You know when the tax deadline is, and you know you want to file early, but is there such a thing as too early?

Actually, there is!

So, we’re here to explain how early the IRS starts accepting tax returns, a couple tips to take you across the finish line when it’s time to file, and a few things that might hold up your tax filing timeline.

When Is the Earliest I Can File My Tax Return?

While you can start prepping for the tax season as early as you want, the IRS doesn’t just start accepting tax returns when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.

This year, the earliest the IRS will accept 2019 tax returns is January 27, 2020.

This may be the earliest date the IRS will accept your filed return, but you don’t have to wait until Jan. 27 to start preparing your taxes. There’s actually a few things you can do to get yourself ready to file right away.

3 Tips to Speed Up the Tax Filing Process

Unless you hire a tax preparation service like us (Insert shameless plug here.), your tax filing process will take time, whether you start on January 27 or April 15. Fortunately, if you’re looking to file as early as possible, there is some prep work you can do to prepare yourself in advance.

1. Make a List

One thing that slows down the tax filing process is the guesswork that comes with remembering seemingly every piece of your financial life in the past year. For example, which investment accounts or savings accounts are you expecting to send you tax forms? Did you work multiple jobs? Do you have income from an investment property? What about the other one?

There’s a lot of head scratching that comes with the tax filing process, but when you do that head scratching is completely up to you. If you’re looking to file your taxes as early as you can in 2020, try making a list of every tax-relevant detail you think might come into play on your tax return. Then, when it’s time to prepare your taxes, you can just work from the list! Time, consider yourself saved.

2. Get Your Paperwork in Order

More so than entering information and crunching some numbers, hunting down papers, receipts, and tax forms is a huge drag. And it’s also one of the biggest reasons why people procrastinate on doing their taxes until the last minute—or even later. If you’re planning to file your tax return early, you’re going to want to get this searching process done early, too.

Now that you have a list of the information you might need for a thorough tax return, compile it in one place. This will give you a chance to organize your receipts for deductions, check your accounts for online statements, and determine which 1099s and W-2s you’re expecting to receive in the mail.

(We’ve written in depth about year-round tax document organization, so be sure to check that out for next year.)

Some Delays Are Unavoidable

Even though you may want to file as soon as humanly possible, there are some practical obstacles that may stand in your way—and can even delay you into February or March.

  1. Tax documents. You’ll typically receive most tax documents toward the end of January or into the first half of February. As a self-employed worker who deals mostly in 1099s, you may already have a pretty robust accounting of your income from a particular client. But if you’re a full-time employee, your tax filing timeline may be at the mercy of whenever your employer mails out W-2s.
  2. Politics or Regional Issues. Fortunately, tax season is starting up right on time this year. But that’s not always the case. Last year, a government shutdown put the IRS on its heels, ultimately resulting in an extension of the tax deadline. In other instances, natural disasters, family illnesses, or other life changing situations may delay when you can actually file, even if you want to file early.

It’s Tax Filing Time!

The IRS is nearly about to start accepting tax returns for 2019, and we couldn’t be more excited. If you’re equally excited, it’s time to start preparing to file your taxes—or getting in touch with us so we can help. The only thing you’re holding up is your tax refund!


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