Why You Should Start Working on Your Taxes in January -- Even Though They're Not Due Till April

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.


  • The IRS generally starts accepting tax returns in January.
  • Even if you can't finish yours by then, starting early will benefit you in several ways.
  • You're less likely to make costly errors if you start early, and if you're entitled to a refund, you'll get it sooner.

It's all about minimizing your stress load and avoiding errors.

Although filing a tax return is something many of us have to do on an annual basis, it can be a stressful process. This especially applies if you own a small business, are self-employed, or have income coming in from a number of different sources, like a side hustle and brokerage account on top of your primary paycheck.

In 2023, the tax-filing deadline will be Tuesday, April 18. Usually, the filing deadline is April 15, but that falls on a Saturday next year. And when that happens, the IRS makes a point to push the deadline out to the next business day.

If you're wondering why the tax-filing deadline isn't Monday, April 17, the reason is that it's Emancipation Day, a Washington, D.C. holiday. And the IRS doesn't like to make taxes due on a holiday.

Because taxes aren't due until April, you may be inclined to hold off on working on them until, well, April. But actually, you're far better off starting to tackle your tax return in January. Here's why.

Starting early can make the process easier

Any time you're forced to rush through a task, you run the risk of making an error. The same holds true for filing taxes.

If you wait too long to start working on your tax return, you might make a mistake that causes you to end up with a lower tax refund. Or, your error might make you more likely to end up on the IRS's audit list (such as if you forget to report income that the IRS has been made aware of).

Plus, the sooner you start working on your taxes, the less stressed you'll be. And that alone is a good reason to give yourself extra time.

What's more, if you're working with a tax professional to get your return done, the sooner you sit down together, the sooner you can figure out if you're missing documentation needed to complete your return. And that could help you avoid issues later on in the filing season.

Finally, the sooner you complete your tax return, the sooner your tax refund can hit your bank account if you're entitled to one. And if you could use a lump sum of money to cover bills or perhaps pay off some holiday debt, then you might as well do what you can to get it as quickly as possible.

Most years, the IRS starts accepting tax returns at the end of January. So if you're able to get yours done early, you'll not only check a big task off of your list, but also, potentially get yourself an expedited payday.

It pays to get a jump start

January is when a lot of people start focusing on career-related goals and the recent New Year's resolutions they've set for themselves. While you're doing those things, take some time to start working on your tax return.

You don't necessarily have to pressure yourself to complete that return in January, especially if you're not particularly desperate for your refund. But getting the ball rolling could work to your advantage and spare you a lot of scrambling in the months ahead.

Alert: our top-rated cash back card now has 0% intro APR until 2025

This credit card is not just good – it’s so exceptional that our experts use it personally. It features a lengthy 0% intro APR period, a cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee! Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow