Thanks to the bevy of new changes to the tax code for 2010, the IRS is still unprepared to handle tax returns filed early. If you itemize your deductions, you must wait until Valentine’s Day to submit your returns to the IRS.
That doesn’t stop taxpayers from starting early. If you use software to file your taxes, like TurboTax or H&R Block At Home, you can start the process at any time. When you finish and are ready to file, the software provider will hold onto your results and won’t file on your behalf until February 14.
If you do not itemize your deductions, opting for the standard deduction, you can file your taxes through an e-file provider or by paper now. The benefit of filing earlier is receiving your refund in advance; if the government owes you money, it’s beneficial to file as early as possible. Even those who take certain tax credits that do not fall within the “itemized deduction” list can file now, so if you receive the earned income tax credit, education credits, and the child tax credits, there is no need to wait.
Updated September 8, 2016 and originally published January 21, 2011.