82% of Early Tax Filers Receive a Refund: An Infographic and TurboTax Giveaway

Are you an early tax filer or do you wait until the last minute, or even request an extension? I tend to be an early filer and last minute payer. We usually owe the IRS a little bit at the end of the year so I like to prepare and file the return early so there are no surprises and then hang on to my money until the last day or two before the deadline. But I know for many of you you’re expecting a refund. Obviously, getting your hands on that refund as early as possible is a good idea. You can take it out of Uncle Sam’s hands and put it to work yourself.

According to a recent survey by Intuit, the makers of TurboTax, they report that that 82 percent of taxpayers who filed before the end of February got money back. In fact, 40 percent of all tax returns last year were filed before the end of February. Not only do most early filers get a refund, their average refund is typically larger: $2,869 compared to $2,753 for returns filed through April 15, according to the IRS That’s a lot of early returns and a lot of people getting a refund.

So, who are these early filers? Well, the folks over at the TurboTax Blog have put together a nice infographic to illustrate the  breakdown of these early filers. You can see where you fit in. And if you think that’s interesting, scroll down to the bottom of the page to enter my TurboTax Giveaway. I’ll be giving away two copies of TurboTax Premier Online, with both a federal and state filing.

TurboTax Giveaway

As I mentioned above, I’m giving away two copies of TurboTax Premier Online, which includes federal and state filing. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below related to taxes. Share with us whether you plan on filing early or late, if you expect a refund or owe money, or just tell everyone how much you hate paying taxes. Leave your comment before 9 pm Wednesday, February 17th and then I’ll randomly select two comments as winners. Make sure you use a valid email with your comment so that I can contact you if you win and have the activation code sent to you. Contest is only valid for U.S. residents. Thanks, and good luck!

Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle

My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.

49 comments
TheTaxLadi
TheTaxLadi

I plan on filing early and I always use turbo tax!

Carline
Carline

Turbo Tax is the way to go, walks you through the whole process.

Donna
Donna

I volunteer with our local free tax prep organization. Most tax sites are overrun with filers early in the season (usually folks who are getting a refund through the EITC) and again late (last-minute filers). Getting people to come in late-February and early-March is a struggle, but that's really the best time to come to a free tax site since it's not busy!

Erica Seawright
Erica Seawright

I usually wait until the last minute. Each year I intend to give myself a little breathing room, but tax day always sneaks up on me. If I received a refund instead of owing money, I'm sure I would do my taxes as early as possible. Since I usually owe money, I figure I might as well let that money earn interest for me as long as possible.

Kay
Kay

I usually wait until the last minute to do my taxes and always received a big refund. I just learned (about a wk ago) that I was giving the IRS free money. So I have been spending HOURS online trying to read up on the IRS and how to correctly fill out my W4 forms. The tax lingo is extensive and if you don't know what you are doing you can really end up hurting your self.

PaydayLoner
PaydayLoner

I always file close to the deadline, but I'm not one of those people standing in line at the post office at 11:59 p.m. April 15. That would scare me to wait till the last day, or even the last couple of days. But since I try to set up my withholding so I owe a little rather than get a refund, I just don't have an incentive to send the government money before I need to.

Lee Hage
Lee Hage

I always prepare taxes early so I know where I stand. Then, if a refund is owed, I submit right away. If I owe money, I wait 'til the last minute. I don't actually do anything with the cash while I wait to pay, it's more on GP that I keep my money as long as possible.

julie Viar
julie Viar

I hope to have all my tax paperwork caught up and filed early this year...... newsletters and blogs like yours help keep me motivated.... you are very much appreciated!

Andrea Moore
Andrea Moore

I have always done pen and paper tax filing but am interested in TurboTax because I hear it walks you through step-by-step. I always file early, if not by the end of February then at least early March.

lisa-marie.
lisa-marie.

My mom and I are still waiting for one thing to arrive, but plan to do our taxes very soon. We've been using Turbo Tax for the last few years and really like it! It's so easy!

Kim Burge
Kim Burge

Taking every opportunity the law allows for deductions can make a difference in the your return. This program is amazing and will walk you through those opportunities.

Julie
Julie

We plan to file a little later as I'm awaiting some receipts from charities I donated to. We'll probably still owe some money so I'm in no hurry.

AD
AD

I tend to go in with all good intentions to file early and then I always end up oweing the state, so that pile of forms goes in at the last possible minute - federal is normally early.

I think that the graphic is really great too - I might have to pass it along.

robin
robin

I love Turbo Tax. We use this program each year for our taxes. Great job on the graphics and keep up the good work!

HC
HC

already filed! maybe I can use Turbotax for next year?

Dean Voelker
Dean Voelker

That is a great graphic! This year will be different for me. As an independent advisor, I had no taxes withheld from my normal paycheck. I am set up to file quarterly now. Great job on getting plenty of feedback and giving away Turbo Tax software.

People also should be reminded that they have until April 15 to contribute to a Roth IRA or Traditional IRA. Do you have your tax reduction accounts yet?

Peter
Peter

I plan to file early and get a small refund. Plus, with all this time off due to snow, I don't have much else to do.

Gresford Thomas
Gresford Thomas

Interesting article! I've always filed late because I've never owed Uncle Same. This year I'm going to run the numbers early because I think we may owe for the first time. However, I'll probably wait until the 11th hour (i.e., April 14) to actually send the government the check.

Steve Ruge
Steve Ruge

I've always wanted to file early but I don't get certain tax documents until exactly on the 14th or 15th of April. Half the time it seems I owe money anyways and I am never in a hurry to give my money to the government.

Josephine
Josephine

Well, I think there are a range of issues regarding early filing, and I found the stats very interesting. I have never filed early, and I'm sad to say that I have sometimes filed late. I would like to have an easier time of figuring out my taxes. I can't afford to pay someone to do it, so I would like to learn to do it myself.

Hugh
Hugh

A comment about taxes, eh? They are too high!

I had an interesting conversation about taxes and filing tax returns with a co-worker today. He hasn't filed for at least the last 3 years!! He is owed money so he just keeps filing extensions. When I asked him why he doesn't file he started out by saying he has such negative feelings towards the tax system. By the end of the conversation he admitted it was just because he is terrible about going through his mail and he needs to go through a bunch of it and get organized and find all of the documents he needs to file. YIKES! I was so amazed by his admissions I just had to share it with somebody anonymously.

Thanks for the opportunity and I enjoy your blog.

Abigail
Abigail

I think there's some cause behind these facts.

1. Anyone organized enough to file early probably has all his ducks in a row in regards to documents etc.

2. Anyone who knows he's getting a refund has reason to file early and get the money back sooner.

Dave S
Dave S

That's why I haven't filed yet. I'm still digging for more deductions. If I can't find a few more, I'm going to owe Uncle Sam for the first time in my life.

Ken
Ken

I'm in no rush to file since I will probably owe taxes.

Joe
Joe

The power to tax is the power to destroy. – John Marshall

I hope to survive another April 15th having a free copy of TurboTax. It will certainly lessen the hurt !

dunnright00
dunnright00

I filed as soon as I got my W-2, because I always get a refund. This year however, I owe the state. So I go my fed refund already and I'll be waiting until April 15 to send the state my cash.

Merrill
Merrill

Wow-- I didn't know that women in my age group get their taxes done early- go us! I also plan on filing early because I like to get it out of the way. I figure that my employer and banks are sending me their tax forms early in the year, so why not follow suit and send them off to the IRS early? I don't know if I'll get a refund or not. I know that getting a refund isn't actually "good," since it was basically an interest-free loan to the government when I could've been using the money to my advantage during the year.

Yana
Yana

Normally I would have done my taxes by now, but Schwab hasn't sent me necessary forms. I'd like to succeed with e-file, because I have been royally ripped off in the past (well, for 2 years) to get my taxes done. I need to get back to doing it myself instead of throwing money down the toilet due to being intimidated by the process.

Wayne
Wayne

I had planned on doing my taxes today while being snowed in with all this snow! Nyet.

AZ_IPA
AZ_IPA

I'm going to use my tax return to buy homebrew equipment!

Jak
Jak

Every year I consider letting someone else do my taxes but I really do enjoy the process. Hopefully with a free copy of TurboTax.

Mark
Mark

According to the Internal Revenue Service, over 75% of American taxpayers received refunds last year; those refunds averaged $2,171 each. I did a sample tax return with turbotax.com and hrblock.com and got the same result. I did not try taxact.com or expresstaxrefund.com

DK
DK

I just finished by early filing. My motivation: a snow day, thus time to sit down and get it done! Maybe THAT should be in the graphic! :)

Matt
Matt

Without taxes, there would be no streets, no libraries, nothing that is for the greater good. So, I love paying taxes. But not as much as I love winning a free copy of TurboTax.

Patrick McNulty
Patrick McNulty

I have used accountants and turbo tax products. This year I plan to file by the end of the month and expect to owe a little bit of money. I prefer to do it myself but there were years that were just too complicated to do that. But I have been burned by some bad accountants in the past so I guess I'm a little gun shy.

Brandy
Brandy

I file early but just to get it over with. This year I owe $13000 because I won some lotto money last year and though they withheld $75,000 off the top they still want another $13000. I figured I would owe so I went as soon as I had everything to get a damage total, I had been told before by IRS that they could want up to another $40000 so 13000 isnt too bad. Normally I use TaxAct but with the lotto and buying my home and the homebuyers credit and the effiency rebate for new windows I thought it would be best to pay this year to have it done.

DJ Wetzel
DJ Wetzel

I did use Turbo Tax this year and I was extremely satisfied. I used the version with the itemizer deduction and got back almost $1800.

No complaints and I would recommend to anyone.

Melissa Jeffrey
Melissa Jeffrey

I used the Free Turbo Tax online this year and it was so much easier than the 4 years before when I did H&R Block's online!

William
William

plan to file early (esp. if i win!), and expecting a refund

Anne
Anne

The statistics make sense. Money is a great motivator for filing early and given the salary level (low), the funds may be needed for necessities (another motivator).

John Forman
John Forman

The real question is why those 18% who don't get a refund are filing (as opposed to preparing) early. I'm sure some of that number is breakeven folks, but a fair chunk must owe.

Rob60174
Rob60174

I will file early. With a job change in the past 18 months, I wasn't sure how I was going to fare, but it looks like I will be getting money back. Mostly because I put in a new a/c that is giving me a nice credit.

Jason
Jason

I plan on filing early this year. I have filed early every year when I have a refund coming and if I owe anything, I file a week before the deadline. Another tip that I use is that I prepare the return the first week of February and go back to it in a week or so to see if I missed anything.

Ben
Ben

It makes sense for early filers to get money back. If you know that you have to pay more taxes, you're better off waiting until the last minute so you can earn interest on your taxes due. But if you are owed a refund, then filing that as soon as possible will allow you to receive the funds ASAP. I am not surprised.

thriftygal
thriftygal

I used to stay up the night before the due date, doing my taxes by hand in the past! Those days came to and end last year when we had a baby and decided to file jointly using H&R Block. We'll probably do it sometime in march. I've never used Turbo Tax and would like to try it.

Andrea Mora
Andrea Mora

I always file before the end of February. I gather my documents throughout the year and keep them in a "taxes" file. I start going through everything the beginning of January and actually start entering everything into Turbotax as I sort and tally. Then when I know I have received all of my tax documents, I double check what I've entered and submit!

Credit Girl
Credit Girl

Cool graphic! Glad I got my taxes done early..

Colorado Techie
Colorado Techie

Nice graphic.

As far as I go, I've been an early tax filer the past 6 years. My problem though is that half of the time when I've filed early I have to do an amended return. The reason? I've been so quick to do my return and be done with it that I realize I missed something or made an error.

This year I'm actually changing my gameplan: prepare early, wait a few weeks, and then file. Hopefully the waiting period will be long enough that I'll have time to remember any potential problems that would cause me to file an amended return.