When you can start filing 2015 federal tax returns / Flickr

The 2016 tax filing season will begin on Tuesday, January 19, the IRS announced Monday.

The agency will begin accepting federal tax returns filed both electronically and on paper that day.

If you want to get started early — with a tax professional or tax prep software — you can fill out yor return before January 19, but it won’t be submitted for you until then.

It can be a little daunting to prepare to file your taxes, so getting organized beforehand and filing early has a lot of benefits. You can avoid scrambling to tackle a mound of paperwork at the last minute in April by starting now to get your paperwork in order.

Once you overcome the dread of getting started, here are some tips to getting your taxes done quickly and easily.

If you file early, not only can you check it off your to-do list earlier, but if you get a tax refund, the earlier you file, the sooner you’ll get your check. (Important note: Clark would prefer you reduce your withholding so you *don’t* get a refund.)

The IRS says for anyone expecting a refund, you likely won’t have to wait too long to get it. The agency says it expects to issue more than 90% of refunds in less than 21 days.

The deadline to file federal returns — and requests for extensions — is April 18, 2016.

Avoiding tax-related fraud & identity theft

Many people are targets around tax time with scam artists filing bogus claims under unsuspecting taxpayer names and Social Security numbers.  The IRS is aware of that and is taking steps to help protect you.

Here are some resources on how to avoid tax-related fraud and identity theft:

How to get an IRS taxpayer identity protection PIN
The key to preventing tax fraud

Also, know that the IRS will never call you — the agency will only contact you by snail mail. So if you get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, it’s likely a scam! Here’s more on how to spot the IRS phone scam.

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