If you’re like many Americans, you may not start thinking about filing your tax return until the April 15 deadline is just a few weeks — or perhaps even just a few days — away. But there’s another date you should keep in mind: Jan. 20. That’s the date the IRS began accepting 2014 returns, and filing as close to that date as possible could protect you from tax return fraud.
In this increasingly common scam, thieves use victims’ personal information to file fraudulent tax returns electronically and claim bogus refunds. When the real taxpayers file, they’re notified that they’re attempting to file duplicate returns.
Tax return fraud can cause major headaches to straighten out and significantly delay legitimate refunds. But if you file first, it will be the thief who’s filing the duplicate return, not you.
Of course you need to have your W-2s and 1099s to file. So another key date to be aware of is Feb. 2 — the deadline for employers to issue 2014 W-2s to employees and, generally, for businesses to issue 1099s to recipients of any 2014 interest, dividend or reportable miscellaneous income payments.