I just took a call from someone asking if once he gets his final check for the year (and accompanying check stub) if he can file his tax return. No he can’t and neither can you.
The IRS requires that a copy of the W-2 must be attached with a paper filed return and a copy of the W-2 must be kept with the signature sheet of any electronically filed return. You have to wait until you receive all your W-2s and other informational documents to file your returns.
Once I tell a caller that, the next question is generally about an ad they’ve heard on television about a using a paystub to get a holiday loan. While I haven’t heard one yet this year, I’m sure there are or will be some companies offering that kind of program. But you want to understand they are not filing a return. The IRS won’t be accepting electronically filed returns until at least January 22.
Tax Preparation companies which offer these holiday loans use your paystub to estimate what your Federal tax refund will be and base a loan on that amount. The money comes from the bank or finance company with which they have an arrangement. You then pay the loan back by a specific date. You will still have to file a tax return once you have all your return documents.
If this is something you are interested in doing, please be very careful. Many of the companies doing holiday tax loans are reputable (while they might gouge you with high fees.) But they are other companies that will rip you off. Before you try a holiday tax loan, please look at Instant Tax Service. I wrote a couple of posts about them last year and there are links at the bottom of this post. The Department of Justice filed permanent injunctions against the company, owner and several franchisees. Besides their outrageously high fees, ITS also filed returns without the client’s permission based on fraudulent documents they (ITS) created. Many times, they left the client having to payback money they never received or fighting to straighten out the mess that ITS created.
I understand that most of us could use extra money this time of the year and it’s tempting to try to get an advance on your tax refund but using a holiday loan from a tax preparation company can cost you high fees. And if the firm isn’t reputable it can force you to deal with the IRS to straighten out the mess they create. Talk your local bank or credit union and see what they can do for you. It’ll be cheaper than any tax prep office.