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William Perez

How Soon Can You File a Tax Return?

By January 5, 2010

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Generally speaking, you can file a tax return as soon as you have all the relevant documents needed to prepare your tax return. This might include such documents as Form W-2 reporting wages and tax withholding, Form 1099 reporting bank interest, unemployment benefits, and other types of income, and so forth.

Some people who's only income is from freelancing or farming might be able to file their returns sooner, as long as you have tallied up your income and related expenses for the previous year.

One word of caution: try not to file a tax return using the information from your last paystub of the year. There's three reasons why. First, your last paystub might not reflect exactly what you earned for the entire year. Second, your paystub does not include all the relevant information needed for the IRS to process your tax return (for example, the employer identification number of the business). Thirdly, the IRS is on the look out for people who file only using their paystub.

In a reminder notice I received in the mail just today, the IRS is instructing tax preparers not to file returns using a paystub. Rather, the IRS prefers for employees to first wait for their W-2, and if a W-2 has not arrived by February 14th, to call the IRS. The rationale here is pretty straightforward: the government wants to know if a company hasn't sent out their W-2 Forms, as this can be an early warning signal for compliance problems that the IRS could then investigate.

Comments
December 31, 2010 at 2:50 am
(1) Satisfied Curiosity says:

Thanks so much! This was super fast and a quick answer. I was considering filing as soon a possible but this has convinced me to wait! Thanks for your advice!

January 12, 2011 at 11:12 pm
(2) littlecitypunk says:

1/16/11 The IRS is open for business, that means they except tax returns electronically or by mail to process them.If you do the efile you will get your refund is 8 days, by the mail about 4 weeks.

November 3, 2011 at 1:18 am
(3) rabbit says:

Thanks, I’ve been trawling the net trying to find out when I can file!

November 17, 2011 at 9:08 am
(4) Sheedahb says:

Just what I needed to know. Thanks!!

December 14, 2011 at 6:24 pm
(5) samantha says:

Thank God we can print our W-2s off the computer on January 2nd…..lol

December 20, 2011 at 10:35 am
(6) rich says:

@samantha. Is that website you speak of..solely for your job or is it useable for others as well.

December 23, 2011 at 8:28 pm
(7) Matthew T says:

Thanks for the advice, appreciate it.

January 3, 2012 at 3:34 pm
(8) nadia says:

thanks much needed info, that was my plan to use my last paystub.

January 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm
(9) bianca says:

is it a website where you can print off w2 early??

January 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm
(10) TakingNotes says:

I was able to print my W-2 out on 5 January, I work for the army, and I already efiled :)

January 10, 2012 at 8:46 pm
(11) Jess says:

I was able to print my w-2′s out from my MyPay website. I work for the government. and I already filed my taxes just cant wait to get them hopefully within the next couple of weeks I e-filed mine.

January 14, 2012 at 11:32 pm
(12) secret3 says:

Is it true that you can’t file your income taxes until the 17th?
I was told that there was a letter sent out with this information.

Somebody please let me know. Thanks.

January 15, 2012 at 6:50 pm
(13) Tim Yeager says:

E-filing begins on Jan. 17th, 2012. If you filed before this date your return hasn’t been processed yet and is probably sitting in a queue somewhere with the software vendor until the 17th. You might want to make sure it actually does go through on the 17th if you’ve already filed it. The first direct deposit refunds will begin on Jan. 25th. Everyone who files before 11 a.m. EST on Wednesday the 18th should receive their refund on the 25th. All refunds will be deposited on Wednesday’s in 2012.

January 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm
(14) Darien says:

Thank you so much for this info. I filed my tax on jan 10 and was wondering why it was taking so long

January 25, 2012 at 3:26 pm
(15) spike says:

i havent recieved any w-2 forms yet? worked 3 full time jobs

January 25, 2012 at 9:17 pm
(16) Lanny says:

You CAN get your W2s now without having to wait on the paper copy. Please go to http://www.w2express.com. If you have never used this before, you will need to register and you can see and print your W2s instantly.
I hope this helps. I know it did me, every year.

January 27, 2012 at 1:53 am
(17) amy says:

I filed electronic and the lady told me I should get my refund by the 27 she didn’t give me a paper with my refund amount so I can’t check the status on it. I also asked for direct deposit. Does anyone know when I should get my refund if I filed on the 17

January 28, 2012 at 4:07 pm
(18) William Perez says:

Amy, did your tax preparer give you a copy of your tax returns? That will have your refund and direct deposit information shown on the second page of Form 1040.

January 31, 2012 at 1:08 am
(19) amy says:

No the irs said mine is still being processing but my tax person said I should have mine by the first or the 3rd.

January 31, 2012 at 2:47 am
(20) William Perez says:

Amy, sounds like the IRS is still processing your tax return. Once your return is processed, then the IRS will issue a refund. Refunds are typically sent out on Wednesdays (for direct deposit) and Friday (by check).

January 31, 2012 at 3:20 am
(21) amy says:

Do u think I’ll get mine this week because it was e filed on the 19

December 27, 2012 at 8:18 pm
(22) jettia eubanks says:

hi i worked for the hurricane seafood resturant and i wanted a copy of my w-2s but i cant even find their name listed under the employer search how that be possible they have been in business for years .

December 29, 2012 at 5:08 pm
(23) sarah says:

Hi i have a question, is it every year on the 17th? just wondering when i can file mine.

December 31, 2012 at 7:32 pm
(24) Virginia24 says:

I’m with ya when your’e right Samantha! Thank goodness for online w2′s

January 4, 2013 at 4:13 pm
(25) Thanks! says:

Thank you so much for the answer! My company has an option to receive w-2 electronically and I actually can access it now so I was wondering when I’d be able to. The program I use said it’d be updated on 1/18/13 and to wait until then to have all the correct forms, but I wanted to be sure I could file as soon as those forms are available.

Thanks again!

January 5, 2013 at 9:50 am
(26) nichole says:

I used to use my last paystub in the past but it did not have all of my tax info i needed. i will be waiting thank you

January 10, 2013 at 4:44 pm
(27) NiikiL says:

thanks…. very informative and straight to the point

January 11, 2013 at 1:42 pm
(28) Bernie says:

When can you file in 2013?

January 15, 2013 at 2:12 pm
(29) Joselin says:

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will begin processing federal tax returns on January 30, 2013. You will have until April 15, 2013, to file your tax return, unless you file for an extension

January 17, 2013 at 3:53 pm
(30) Amnesty says:

What happens if you already efiled? Will you have to go back and do it again? It says accepted but i had to wait for state taxes until the 18th.

January 23, 2013 at 1:20 pm
(31) Beth says:

i was told that you cant file until after the 30th of January is that true?

January 24, 2013 at 6:19 am
(32) chris says:

I filed last year and forgot to enter a 1099 misc. It was for 510.00 how do I add that to this years tax return? Also I tried turbo tax, got through the entire process, then the last part said null. What does that mean?

January 24, 2013 at 8:26 am
(33) pharrismoore says:

i heard you can t file until feb 1st…..why is that?

January 30, 2013 at 2:15 pm
(34) Carol says:

The reason that you “shouldn’t” file earlier than Feb 1 is because employers have to have the W-2′s mailed out no later than 1/31. If they don’t, they are subjected to a fine.

January 31, 2013 at 12:25 pm
(35) Jude says:

A co-worker just told me today that on the news last night they bumped filing to 2/15 and anything filed before that will be rejected? Anyone else hear this?

January 1, 2014 at 9:02 pm
(36) emily says:

Awesome, quick and accurate answer!

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