Delayed start of tax filing season begins Friday

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The W-2's arrived.  So has all the other tax information.  Finally, today, tax filing season is officially underway. The Internal Revenue Service says the government shutdown delayed the implementation of new tax laws in the processing system.
So the date to begin filing taxes is ten days later than anticipated.
"Our teams have been working hard throughout the fall to prepare for the upcoming tax season," IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel said. "The late January opening gives us enough time to get things right with our programming, testing and systems validation. It's a complex process, and our bottom-line goal is to provide a smooth filing and refund process for the nation's taxpayers."

And financial experts advise filing as soon as possible.

Brian Singer is the president of Singer Financial Group based in Brownsburg. He recommends whether a tax filer is anticipating a refund or to owe the IRS, to file sooner rather than later.
The most obvious reason, he says, is getting that refund sooner. "If you're expecting a refund, not only will it get processed sooner, but you'll likely also cut down on the wait time," explains Singer.
Identity theft is a reason many tax filers probably don't consider. 
Singer warns, "We have some issues with identity theft and criminals (who) know your name and Social Security number could file your tax returns.  If you file ahead, that's going raise red flags (with the IRS) when that second (return) comes in."
Parents with students needing financial aid for college can also get their tax information to fill out and turn in the FAFSA forms sooner.
Even if a filer expects to owe the IRS, Singer says it pays to file early, "Knowing how much you owe can benefit you, because it will give you more time to set up a payment plan and put aside the money you owe," since the deadline to pay is still April 15th.
As for what to do with a refund when the check comes?  Singer recommends paying off debt, investing, or setting up an emergency fund.

Changes to know about before filing your taxes:

More on reasons to file early and what to do with the refund: