The tax season is upon us, and one of the IRS’s first announcements is that taxes are due Tuesday, April 17, 2012, according to Forbes — one day later than expected.

The deadline for filing for Tax Year 2011 is one of the most important pieces of tax intelligence, but it’s only the starting point. If you’re an early bird looking to get your taxes filed in advance of the April deadline, consider four initial steps to make sure you’re as ready as you think you are.

1. Get Your Paperwork in Order

If your W-2 or other tax paperwork hasn’t arrived in the mail, it’s probably on its way, and you should do all you can to be prepared for its arrival. DailyFinance recommends creating a system to keep all your incoming tax documents organized. The system doesn’t have to be overly complicated. All it should do is ensure that you have everything you need when it’s time to visit your tax professional, including W-2s and receipts.

2. Choose a Tax Professional

If you’re getting outside help on your taxes, it might be wise to make an appointment with your tax preparer as soon as possible, to ensure a date that works for your filing schedule. If you have yet to settle on a professional, you may want to ask close friends or family members for recommendations. You may also find it helpful to consult the IRS’s checklist for choosing a tax preparer. The steps you take may save you time and money in the long run.

3. Be Aware of Any Changes

Nearly every year brings tax changes, and 2012 is no different. Try to make yourself aware of any changes that may affect you and your refund (or bill) for the new tax year. Be sure to note the new filing requirements, the new Earned Income Tax Credit and the personal exemption increase.

4. Decide How You Will File

Thanks to the popularity of electronic filing, the U.S. no longer mails paper tax forms automatically. If you want yours on paper, you’ll need to download the forms from the However, electronic returns tend to have 13 percent fewer mistakes, DailyFinance reports, so you may find that filing online is both faster and more accurate.

Are you getting a head start on filing your taxes? What tools or tips do you use to make filing easier?

This information is not, nor should it be, considered tax advice. We recommend that you consult with your tax advisor or other tax professional regarding any tax matters.