Filing your taxes is notoriously stressful — especially if you’re not traditionally employed or you earn your income as a freelance worker.
But thanks to a new IRS change under the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015, the process could become much easier.
Starting in 2017, businesses will have to file employee tax information — W-2 forms for traditional employees and 1099-MISC forms for freelancers who they paid more than $600 — with the government by January 31. That’s nearly one month earlier than the previous date for paper filing (February 28) and two months earlier for electronic filing (March 31).
Businesses are already mandated to get these tax filing documents to employees and independent contractors by January 31, but the earlier deadline for filing with the government could mean many Americans see their tax documents a couple weeks sooner than usual, giving them a head start to file.
Gail Rosen, a New Jersey-based certified public accountant, told Business Insider the move could especially help freelancers, who frequently work with many different businesses and have to wrangle many different tax forms — especially since many “businesses realistically ignored the 1/31 deadline” to get forms to independent contractors.
“The change will give independent contractors and freelancers more time to prepare their tax records accurately” and hopefully minimise time-crunch errors, she said.
“Note that their customer can ask for a 30-day extension, but regardless, this is still sooner than in prior years,” Rosen said.
But in general, Rosen anticipated that the change will mean many Americans see their tax information sooner, giving them more time prepare — or procrastinate — before that looming mid-April deadline.
Americans even get a few extra days on the back-end this year, as the tax filing date in 2017 is April 18 instead of April 15, due to a holiday and the traditional date falling on a Saturday.
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