BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Some tax advisors have cautioned taxpayers to get their taxes done early, as this is a popular time of year for identity thieves. They also say make sure taxpayers should know what deductions they qualify for because you could end up paying more or getting less of a refund.
"I think it's penny wise and pound foolish not to get an expert to help you," said John Neyland of JCN Financial in Baton Rouge. "Unless you're doing just a basic short form."
Neyland is a tax advisor. He says during the year is when he gives out advise, but now it's almost too late to offer saving advise - unless it's educating people about what they deductions they do or do not qualify for.
Next week, on Jan. 20, the Louisiana Department of Revenue starts accepting the 2014 individual income tax returns.
Neyland says most people won't have the forms they need by then anyway. He also points out, this year it will take longer to get your federal refunds which is one reason he suggests you file as soon as possible.
The IRS has predicted a busy season and says taxpayers will probably wait longer for refunds because it will take longer to process paperwork. That, they say, is due to budget cuts, hiring freezes, and cuts to overtime.
The Louisiana Department of Revenue has said it will start processing on Feb. 3 and issuing refunds around Feb. 24. Filing electronically, refunds will take 21 days. Paper returns mean a wait of eight to 10 weeks.
Something some people will need to be aware of this year, addressing their health care status as a provision under the Affordable Health Care Act. It requires those who purchased health insurance through the marketplace to fill out special forms from the IRS.
Neyland says there are other deductions people don't take, like claiming work-related expenses. For example, he says, if people work from home they can claim their home office.
"Probably the biggest thing you'll find is they did the return, but they didn't understand what they could deduct and didn't. They paid more taxes than they otherwise would have, but they never knew. The IRS isn't going to call you up and say, 'Gee you could've done this differently.'"
Above all, Neyland says when taxpayers do file, particularly those who e-file, make sure it's from a secure, personal computer.
In 2014, identity thieves stole names and social security numbers, which left victims waiting months for a refund. According to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the IRS paid more than $5 billion dollars to thieves posing as taxpayers.
The Treasury Department says the average refund in 2014 was close to $2,700.
Advisors say have a plan for the money and don't blow it all at once.