Stop, take a deep breath and wait for a warning from the Internal Revenue Service before you pull out that plastic to jump on yet another holiday deal on a TV, toys or a smartphone.
Will you really have all the money you need by January or February to cover all those holiday bills? Not necessarily, if you're banking on a big income tax refund in early 2020.
The IRS put taxpayers on notice in late November that they shouldn't "rely on receiving their refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying bills."
It's likely that the earliest you could be able to file your 2019 income tax return would be in late January. The kickoff date was Jan. 28, 2019, for the 2018 federal income tax returns.
Typically, it can take up to 21 days to receive a federal income tax refund.
But people who are already on tight budgets may need to wait longer if they're claiming the earned income tax credit or the additional child tax credit.
By law, refunds for returns claiming earned income or additional child tax credits cannot be issued until after mid-February. The delay applies to the entire refund, not just the money you'd receive via the credits.
Another important reminder: Your tax refund could be much smaller than you might expect.
It is possible that the federal government can cut into your federal income tax refund to offset past-due federal taxes, state income taxes, child support, spousal support or student loan debt.
The taxpayer would receive a notice if any offset takes place.