How to Time When You File Taxes

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Tax Day itself is a fixed date each year, but all that means is you have a lot of options for when you'll want to file your annual return. Some people like to get their taxes out as soon as their documentation arrives, while others frantically hustle right up to the deadline. There actually isn't one ideal, perfect day for everyone to file — instead, what your income and lifestyle look like can change your tax schedule pretty dramatically.

Writing for the Freelancers Union, certified public accountant Jonathan Medows lays out some questions to ask yourself before firing up your tax software or meeting up with your own CPA. The very simplest way of figuring out your tax schedule comes down to whether you expect to pay money or whether you expect to receive it. Anyone anticipating sending funds back to the IRS may want to file later in the season, to save up for estimated payments. If you're likely to get a refund, however, there's no reason to delay.

There are other reasons to be mindful about planning your tax season, though, one of the first being that it's prime time for identity thieves. That's a point in favor of filing early, although it's also possible to make some common mistakes if you rush into filing. Tax season can be rough, especially if you're worried about being able to pay at all. If that's the case, better to take some sanctioned workarounds rather than simply not pay. Soon enough, you'll get through it, so give yourself the peace of mind of settling and moving on.