Raleigh, N.C. — Drop your dread, grab your paperwork and get cracking on filing federal income taxes.
Even though its an annual headache that Patrick Siciliano dreads, he does not wait to file his federal income taxes.
“My motivation for filing my taxes early is just to get my refund back as quick as possible,” he said.
One of the benefits of filing a refund early is getting that refund check in the mail. But filing early can also protect taxpayers from criminals who file fraudulent tax returns using stolen Social Security Numbers. The thieves want to obtain users refunds.
The Internal Revenue Service says it has stepped up cyber security since 2015, dramatically cutting the number of victims.
Nikhil Hutheesing, Consumer Reports Money Editor, said fears of stolen identity are still valid.
“There are growing concerns that data breaches since then could cause a spike in ID theft,” she said.
A recent Equifax breach impacted almost 148 million people.
Some federal tax filers may have received a notice from the IRS that provides additional security through Identity Protection Pin numbers, also known as IP-PIN. It provides an extra layer of security because it has to be provided along with the taxpayer’s Social Security Number on returns filed with the federal government.
“If you expect to owe money to the IRS, don’t worry that filing early means you have to pay early,” Hutheesing said. “You can still pay when everybody else has to, which this year is April 17th.”
Another benefit to consumers who complete their taxes early is that gives them additional time to determine how to pay their outstanding tax bill. Consumers should be aware, however, that paying the taxes with a credit card could mean additional fees that could amount to almost four percent of the total owed, plus a convenience fee.
According to the IRS, more than 70 percent of taxpayers will get refunds this year. The agency says nine of 10 refunds are generally issued within three weeks.