TYLER, TX (KLTV) - It's time to get all of your paperwork ready and organized, because tax season is upon us.
Americans have until April 17, 2018 to file their taxes, but there are some good reasons to get them filed as soon as possible.
Experts say filing early will help you be financially prepared and avoid any surprises.
"You try to file a return and it says it's already been filed," is what certified public account and former Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass would call a bad situation.
Tax fraud is a major problem for filers.
Bass, who works at Golllob, Morgan, Peddy in Tyler says getting the task taken care of ahead of the due-date can protect you from identity theft.
"People can hack in, file fraudulent tax returns, and one of the best ways to minimize that is to file early," said Bass.
The IRS has software that's designed to spot duplicate returns, and if a criminal beats you to it , it'll be on you to get things sorted out.
Bass says the IRS has gotten much better about detecting and preventing fraudulent returns in recent years. According to the agency it helped stop over 700,000 phony returns in 2016.
Of course there are other reasons to file early.
"I think for most of us, it is to get our refund faster," said Bass.
An estimated 80% of tax filers get a refund each year.
For a smooth process, Bass recommends double checking all names and birthdays match the individual's social security, and if you are claiming dependents make sure you are the only one doing so.
If you think your identity has been stolen, you need to contact both the IRS and state services.