Those early birds are getting their returns.
Maine Revenue Services sent out about 10,000 income tax refunds Friday, the first batch of many to come over the tax-filing season.
“Our issuing of refunds has been pretty quick over the years,” said Dennis Doiron, director of Maine Revenue Services' income tax division.
As of this week, 36,000 people had filed their state income tax returns, 9,000 more than this time last year.
"Everybody needs their money yesterday," said Cindy Raymond, a tax professional at H&R Block on Main Street in Lewiston. "We did some businesses on the second of January."
Early federal filers are also seeing early returns, but for some, not quite as early as hoped. The Internal Revenue Service has fielded complaints after pushing refunds back up to a week beyond the date initially projected after filing.
Raymond said some customers who filed federal income tax returns on Jan. 17, opening day of the tax season for the IRS, were given an estimated refund date of Jan. 25. That was later moved to Jan. 30.
"It's the government," Raymond said. There wasn't much customers could do but wait.
According to an IRS statement: “The one-week delay for some refunds relates to fine-tuning IRS systems to adjust for new safeguards put in place this tax season to provide stronger protection against refund fraud.”
Ninety percent of federal refunds are delivered within three weeks. Doiron said it takes, on average, one to two weeks to process a state return.
Maine expects to process about 650,000 income tax returns; the IRS, 144 million.
Doiron said the vast majority of state returns filed so far, all but 1,400, have come in electronically. He encouraged more people to e-file. Taxpayers who filed paper returns last year, 150,000 people, should have received 2011 forms in the mail mid-January. Forms can also be printed or requested from the Maine Revenue Service website. They're no longer available in post offices and libraries, Doiron said.
The tax-filing deadline this year is April 17. Monday, April 16, is Emancipation Day, a holiday recognized in Washington, D.C.