It's unfortunately that time of the year.

Tax season is here again.

The IRS will start processing tax returns on Jan 23, so get your sit together.

If you're super-eager, you don't even have to wait. The online tax preparation sites are up and running, so you can start inputting your tax information now.

That's especially the case if you only worked in the first half of the year and you have a final pay stub with your total wages. Or maybe you just took some IRA distributions in 2016. In those instances, you may have everything you need to prepare your return now, says Jackie Perlman, principal tax research analyst at H&R Block

And if you hit "send" earlier than January 23, that's totally fine too. Just know your return won't be processed until January 23.

Now most of us will have to wait until the end of the month for our W-2s and 1099s to show up in the mail. So please be on the lookout for them.

Because don't forget, identity thieves often will steal W-2s right out of your mailbox so then they can file your return and claim your refund. Don't let that happen.

So take this time to get yourself organized. Uncle Sam works on a first-in, first-out system. So if he owes you money, file your return as soon as you can and so you can get your refund back quickly. 

And please - don't even think about sending a paper return - it's so yesterday.

Your 2016 Tax Return is Due on April 18

Yes, April 18.

The traditional April 15 filing date falls on a Saturday this year. The following Monday, April 17, is Emancipation Day, which is a legal holiday in Washington, D.C., which means all the IRS agents have the day off. That brings the deadline to Tuesday, April 18, 2017 (. (unless you go on extension, which would mean your return is due October 16).

And don't forget, if you're self-employed and need to make estimated payments, your first payment for 2017 is due that day as well.

There is One Big Delay This Year  

There has been a ton of fraud surrounding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), both of which may bring you a refund even if you don't owe any tax.

So the IRS is cracking down. As part of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act), the IRS is allotted some additional time to make sure the people getting refunds from these credits deserve it. So, if you happen to file early, the law now says don't expect that refund to be sent before February 15 so they can take their time and triple-check things.

That means you might not get it until the week of the 27 with President's Day and weekends. So don't be hounding the IRS for your money before that. 

Identity Theft is a Problem 

A big one. So don't ignore it. 

And while the IRS is trying to take control, you have to be smart too. If you're preparing your return in a public area, make sure you know who's looking over your shoulder, warns Perlman. Don't leave your tax documents out for people to see. Be cautious. 

Have your refund directly deposited into your bank account, so you don't risk getting the check stolen out of your mailbox. 

And remember, Uncle Sam is never going to call. So if you get a phone call from someone impersonating the IRS, call the police. 

The IRS is expecting to process more than 150 million returns, so there's a ton of opportunity for the thieves to make money. 

Don't let them.

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