Watch CBS News

The benefits of filing taxes before Tax Day

The benefits of filing taxes before Tax Day
The benefits of filing taxes before Tax Day 02:35

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - It's February, and while you might want to put this off, there are good reasons to get the jump on filing your taxes.

There are financial and mental health reasons to go ahead and file, and this applies to whether you are getting a refund or you're going to owe.

It all starts with your statement of earnings and your W-2.

"Your employer is required by law to send you your W-2 by the end of January, so you definitely should be in receipt of it by now," according to Michael Herzog, a tax partner of Metz Lewis.

Herzog says the earlier you file, the better.

"The sooner you file your taxes, the sooner you're going to be able to get your refund."

And in most cases, that's not chump change.

"The average refund is about $2,900," Herzog said.

Herzog says to file electronically and use direct deposit for your refund.

"You'll actually receive that refund several weeks sooner, compared to whether you would file on paper."

Speaking of papers, gathering all your 1099 forms and W-2 before you start is crucial.

"When you receive your 1099 to report your dividends and interest, a copy of that 1099 is submitted to the IRS, and the IRS supercomputer will let you know that you've missed one of your documents."

Herzog points out the mental health stress relief of getting it done, even if you owe.

"At least you won't have sticker shock. You could plan for making the tax payment, [and] you'll have a little bit more runway by which to do so."

Herzog says if you fail to claim income, it may take a year or more, but the IRS computers will eventually figure it out and send you a bill.

So, if you were to file today, how long would you wait for a refund?

It should take about 21 days if there are no issues, and if you're using e-filing and direct deposit, it could be sooner. If you mail it in, four weeks or more.

And those numbers could go up the closer we get to April 15.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.