If you crave a big fat tax refund, this is your year! But it's important to file your return sooner rather than later for several reasons.

With the new tax cut law in effect in 2018, this will be the season where most of us start to reap the benefits.  Even if our salaries didn't change, we'll most likely owe quite a bit less in taxes and a lot of us might be rolling in dough we aren't expecting or forgot about.  One expert is guessing that refunds will be about twenty-five percent higher than last year.  Sweet!

The IRS started accepting tax returns yesterday, and the experts are saying it's better to file sooner rather than later.  If we file early, it shortens the amount of time that the creeps can try to file on our behalf and take our money.  Identity theft is an issue during tax season, and if we file our own returns before the fraudsters try it, they can't pocket our cash or create filing headaches for us in April.

Filing early also speeds up the process if you're taking the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit.  Those usually get flagged for review, and if you file early your return will be sitting on a shorter stack, and you're more likely to get your refund in a couple of weeks rather than three or four later on in the tax season when the IRS is the busiest.

Now back to guessing about that big refund.  If you got a $3000 refund last year, imagine that at about $3750 this year.  A $4500 refund last year might turn into $5625 this year.  Of course, it all depends on the individual situation.  But even if you got the dreaded call from the accountant saying you owed money last year and you're expecting another shortage this spring, at least the number will be lower.  So there's that.

There were 600 tax law changes that went into effect in 2018, and all of the software programs have been updated so we don't have to stress about memorizing what's what.  Accountants have had time to study the changes too, and they might know of even more ways to work toward that refund.

The tax filing period started Monday and runs through April 15th.  If you e-file and use direct deposit for the refund, SmartAsset says your money will come in 1 to 2 weeks.  If you request a paper check, it could take a month.

And, if there's another government shutdown, that could throw a wrench in the refund schedule.  So that's another good reason to file early.