Expert: The sooner you file your taxes, the better

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Tax season has begun and the earlier you file, the better.

“That’s how you beat the fraudsters,” explained Jean Pliakas of Liberty Tax in East Providence. “If you don’t beat them, you can still file, but it’s a lot more complicated.”

According to the IRS, nearly 155 million individual tax returns are expected to be filed.

Keep in mind, regardless of how early you file, if you’re claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), you will have to wait until at least the end of February to receive your refund.

“Because of all of the identity theft, the IRS does verify identity and income now before it will issue a refund,” Pliakas said. ” It’s for your protection.”

Before you file, make sure you have all of the information you need, including:

  • W-2s
  • Unemployment compensation (1099-G)
  • Social Security statements (SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S)
  • Payments from retirement plans and IRAs
  • Gambling and lottery winnings
  • Health insurance statements (1095 A, B, or C)

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding,” Pliakas added. “The waiver of the penalties doesn’t start until tax year 2019, so people doing their 2017 [taxes] without health insurance will pay the penalty.”

The IRS expects more than four out five tax returns will be prepared electronically using tax software. According to the agency, about 70% of taxpayers are eligibible for IRS Free File.

The tax filing deadline is Tuesday, April 17, 2018.