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Published: Feb 20, 2024 5 min read
Photo-illustration of a clock and 2023 tax form.
Money; Getty Images

While New Year’s Eve celebrations may feel like they just happened yesterday, we’re well into 2024 — and that means it's tax time.

As the first major financial obligation of the year for most people, tax season can be a pain, but taking action as early as possible can yield great benefits. In fact, were you aware you can already file your taxes for 2024? Here is everything you need to know.

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When can you start filing federal taxes?

Unlike Tax Day, which usually falls on or around April 15, the federal tax filing season doesn’t start on a predetermined date.

The IRS sets a different tax season open date each year based on department readiness, changes in legislation and whether there are holidays or weekends to consider. Typically, the tax season begins between late January and early February; if you file before then, your tax preparer simply holds onto your return until the IRS is ready to process it.

This year, the IRS announced it would start accepting and processing federal tax returns for 2023 beginning Jan. 29. Yes, that means the 2024 tax season has already begun, and you can file right now if you're so inclined.

You will need to have all of your required documents at the time of filing. Be sure to reach out to your employer if you still haven't received your W-2, and check to make sure you've gotten your 1099 or other required papers from other sources (like your 1099-INTs from banks that paid you interest and 1098-Ts from colleges where you paid tuition). Otherwise, you may need to go back and amend your tax return later on.

Most people have from now until April 15 to file taxes. See the IRS tax filing calendar for more information and key dates for the 2024 tax year.

When can you start filing state taxes?

State tax seasons differ from the federal tax season. That’s because unlike federal taxes, which are handled by the IRS, state income taxes are handled by each state’s department of revenue. In total, 41 states and the District of Columbia collect state taxes — just nine states do not charge a state income tax.

That said, most states tend to begin their state tax seasons in tandem with federal filing dates so as to simplify the process for taxpayers. You should check your home state’s department of revenue website to see when your state taxes can be filed; most likely, the season began on Jan. 29 as with federal filing.

Many states match the IRS timeline, but some deviate. Pennsylvania, for example, has a tax due date of April 18, and some states like New Mexico and Delaware don't require residents to file state taxes until May 2 — over two weeks after than the federal deadline.

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Why to file your taxes early

Most people aren't lining up to get their 1040s finished at the beginning of tax season, instead choosing to file closer to the deadline. But there are plenty of benefits to filing your taxes early, among them avoiding tax identity theft, where a criminal uses your information to file your tax return (and nab your refund) before you do.

Being proactive and filing your taxes early usually means that you’ll get your return fast, barring any issues with processing. (One exception: The IRS can't issue refunds to those claiming the earned income tax credit or additional child tax credit before mid-February.) If you owe the government money after filing, knowing this as early as possible can be very helpful for creating a payment strategy.

Moreover, there are lots of pains that can come when filing closer to the April 15 deadline. Because most people wait to file, there is a higher likelihood of jammed customer service lines and crashed websites.

If you don’t qualify for free tax services courtesy of the IRS’s Free File program or other low-income filing discounts, you could also end up paying more for assistance later in the season. Tax prep companies generally make their services more expensive as the deadline nears.

More from Money:

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Don't Wait 'Til April: Knock Out These 5 Tax Tasks Now

IRS’s Identity Theft Issues Are Leading to ‘Unconscionable’ Tax Refund Delays: Report

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