Thanks to an IRS change, filing taxes could get easier in 2017

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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 minimize 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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“It’s only January, I have plenty of time!”
You’re relaxed, you’re casual, what even are taxes anyway? You don’t care! It’s so far away that filing taxes isn’t even remotely on your radar, to be honest.

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The imminent act of filing is upon me and I literally have nothing ready…”
Tax season is now approaching and that creeping anxiety about getting everything done on time is starting to set in. It’s essentially biting at your heels and you know you have to get moving.

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No words. Just emotional paralysis.
You’re screwed. You need to start doing your paperwork but you physically do not know where to even begin. It’s time. It’s happening.

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That anxiety you felt creeping in earlier? Now it’s full-fledged onset. This stage is often accompanied by screaming out loud, pulling hair, crying, etc.

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“Wait, did I get all of my papers in? Did I check that one box correctly? Does it look like I’m trying to evade some of these taxes? What if I go to jail? Can I go to jail for that? WHO WILL FEED MY DOG WHEN I AM IN JAIL?!”

It’s like handing in an exam in school and wishing you could grab it back and double check your answers one more time.

Who was that celebrity you heard about that went to jail for tax evasion? Because now you’re convinced that’s totally going to be you.

Spoiler alert: as long as you did everything to the best of your knowledge and ability, you probably won’t go to jail. And even if you do, you’ll find someone to walk your dog.

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“I got this, I’m almost done, a few more papers and I’m in the clear. I just have to pound through the rest of it. Go me!”

“Go you” is right! Now you’re on cruise control and you’re on track to get everything done well and on time. You’re unstoppable in the delight of the world that is tax filing.

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“Thank god that’s over with, now I can relax! What to do with all this stress-free free time!”
Finally, relief. Your papers are filed and sent out into the universe. It’s off your back at last. Now on to more important things, like Netflix.

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“When is my return coming? Is this going to be my life for the rest of my life? Yep, it is. So about that return…”
Now, you wait. You want that money. And the inevitable truth that your life will now be a neverending cycle of filing taxes and waiting for your return.

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“SCORE my return was so much better than I expected! I’m buying a new dress. Or five. Probably five, why not?”
You’re on a total life-high now. The possibilities of what you can spend your return on seem endless and even if you don’t, having a nice bonus hunk of cash in your pocket feels pretty good. It made all of that stress completely worth it.

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“Honestly filing wasn’t even that bad this year. And now I don’t have to think about it anymore. Well at least not for another year. But no use in worrying about that now!”
Alas, acceptance. You know you’ll fall victim to the vicious cycle again when next year rolls around. But truthfully, you wouldn’t have it any other way. Okay, you obviously would. But you’ll never change your procrastinating ways!

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SEE ALSO: How to prepare your taxes if you’re a freelancer

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