February is the time of year everyone is getting geared up for tax season. The IRS filing opens the beginning of February, and W-2s have been mailed. The only thing left to do is the hard part; getting the actual filing completed.
Refunds are one of the perks that make filing taxes bearable, for those who get money back. If you are looking to get your money faster, here are a few ideas.
7 Tips for Speeding up Your Refund
- Gather Documents and Get Organized. In January and early February tax related forms arrive in the mail or in your inbox. Keeping them in the same place will save time when you are ready to file. This is also the time to review receipts, end of year statements, and other tax related documentation that may result in additional deductions. An effective way to track tax deductions is to compile everything on a single page with the totals. If you donated to five different charities, only the total donations are needed for the return, however, do keep all receipts. Having everything in one place will prevent desperate searches for a missing document. Tax preparers can use your summary as well for tabulating deductions. The better organized you are, the better you will be able to take advantage of all qualifying deductions, thus increasing your potential refund.
- File early. As the April 18th deadline approaches, more people file. Backlog within the IRS is the result, leading to longer processing time, and slower refunds. Early filers can receive a payment in as little as 10 days. Late filers often experience wait times of up to six weeks.
- File Electronically. Electronic returns have fewer mistakes and process faster. Mailed returns can take several weeks before they are even entered into the IRS system. The return must then be processed, approved and the refund issued. Electronic returns automate the process and eliminate human error on the IRS end.
- Use Direct Deposit. Another way to speed up the refund is with direct deposit with the IRS. Physical checks must be printed and processed and then you must wait for mail delivery, adding another week or more to your wait.
- Avoid the Temptation of Refund Loans. Many companies that offer tax services also offer instant refunds. This is actually a loan that charges fees and interest, reducing the total amount you receive. It may seem convenient to have filing fees subtracted from your refund; however, waiting a few days can result in $100 or more in your refund. Remember a tax refund is the IRS paying you back due to an overpayment.
- Do You Hire a Tax Preparer or DIY? Tax preparation firms are efficient in getting taxes done quickly. If you dread the thought of filing your own taxes, by all means use a reputable service. However, free filings are available for those making under $58,000, saving you $100 or more in filing fees. Improved software programs save you money and make the process fast and relatively painless for those with simple returns. Whichever way you choose, the more organized you are the faster and more accurate your return will be.
- Use Free Resources Available. Help can be found online, over the telephone, and in person. The elderly can benefit from volunteers willing to assist with returns. Tax questions can be answered over the phone or at local assistance centers that staff IRS representatives. The link to these resources can be found at https://www.irs.gov/uac/Many-Types-of-Free-Tax-Help-Available-From-the-IRS.