Why you might want to procrastinate on your taxes

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Updated February 18, 2021|3 min read

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Tax season began last week and runs until April 15. Most years, it’s advantageous to file your taxes as early as possible: Early filers typically get their return quicker, reducing the chance of identity theft. But 2020 was no ordinary year, and some experts are recommending taxpayers hold off on filing in anticipation of another stimulus bill .

Lawmakers are still deliberating who should be eligible, based on income, for an expected third stimulus check, worth $1,400. The last two stimulus payments were available in full to anyone who made less than $75,000, based on their 2019 taxes. The amount decreases if you made more than $75,000, and is phased out above $99,000.

This third stimulus check could be based on your 2019 tax return or 2020 tax return. It depends on when you file your taxes and when the IRS starts sending out stimulus checks. It’s also likely your 2020 income is not the same as it was in 2019, which means you could get a higher (or lower) stimulus payment.

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If your income was lower in 2020 than it was in 2019, you may want to file now to qualify for more stimulus money. If your income was lower in 2019 than it was in 2020, you may want to hold off filing and use your 2019 income to qualify for the next stimulus.

So should you wait to file? We asked nine experts if you should hold off on filing until another aid bill is passed. While results were split, most financial experts agree that it depends on if your 2020 income increased or dropped last year.

Q: Should you wait to file your taxes until a third stimulus bill is passed?

Why you should wait to file

“You should wait to file your taxes if your income increased in 2020 and would possibly make you ineligible for the next stimulus.” Jacqueline Schadeck, financial advisor at Sherrill & Hutchins

“Taxpayers should be wary of pushing the tax deadline, but if they know that their income in 2020 is going to be significantly higher than it was on their 2019 tax return, then they should consider waiting to file. This is especially important if you received the first stimulus due to lower 2019 income, your 2020 income would be well above the income phase out.” Michael Metzger, certified financial planner at Lifepoint Financial Design

“I would wait to file if your income in 2019 was lower, you don't need your tax refund (assuming you are getting one), or you owe taxes and want to delay the due date of that bill.” Brent Weiss, certified financial planner at Facet Wealth

Why you should file now

“If your 2020 income was down, you may get more stimulus, so my advice is to do the return and see what it says for 2020, then decide.” Leon LaBrecque, certified financial planner at Sequoia Financial

“We're talking about a stimulus bill affecting 2021, not 2020, and we're filing taxes for 2020 this year. I believe any legislation is unlikely to affect 2020 taxes. Besides, the drafters of these bills are aware that they don't want to complicate people's tax returns for 2020. I would just file now.” George R. Gagliardi, certified financial planner at Coromandel Wealth Management

Whether you’re ready to file or not, it helps to make a game plan. We have a complete guide to filing taxes here.

Image: Nastia Kobzarenko