Accountants urge people to file income tax returns early

Accountants urge people to file income tax returns early
Free help with tax preparation began Saturday. (Source: Pixabay)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Some people may think April 15 is far off in the calendar, but it's tax day.

"It's important to file as early as you can if you can," Thomas Spade said. Spade is a certified public accountant in Mount Pleasant and also teaches accounting at the College of Charleston.

Filing early will help you be financially prepared and avoid any surprises.

"If you at least prepare the return now, you'll know if you're going to owe something. You have until April 15 to come up with it and not be charged any penalties or interest," Spade explained.

Getting the task taken care of ahead of the April 15 due-date can also help protect you from identity theft.

"If you file your return now and someone tries to file a return under your Social Security Number, then it would be rejected immediately by the IRS [Internal Revenue Service]," Spade said. He went on to explain the IRS will then contact you to alert you to any fraudulent activity. "When people don't take good care of their information and secure it, that's when it gets stolen."

You can protect your identity in other ways, as well. Do not click on unknown links online because it could lead to phishing and hackers gaining access to your computer. Be mindful of phone scammers. Avoid tossing documents with any personal information. Make sure any document is disposed of properly. As for those cell phones, make sure they are password protected in case they get into the wrong person's hands.

To access the IRS website on identity protection, click here.
To access the SC Department of Revenue website security center, click here.

If you think your identity has been stolen, you need to contact both the IRS and your state services.

"There are identity theft affidavits for the IRS and the South Carolina Department of Revenue that you need to fill out and submit," Spade explained.

Copyright 2018 WCSC. All rights reserved.