Waiting for your tax refund can really test your patience.
Unfortunately, we can’t speed up the actual processing time of your tax return once the IRS gets hold of it. However, there are actions we can take to ensure a smoother journey through the IRS database. Let’s take a look at seven steps you can take when filing your tax return this year.
E-File your tax return.
Oh, how far technology has come. You can e-file your tax return worry-free until the April deadline. After that date, you can still e-file until the October deadline. However, if you can’t get it filed before mid-April and you’re not sure if you’re getting a refund, you’ll want to file an extension. Either way, the IRS processing time is quickest with e-filing. Compared to mailing in your return, you could be speeding up your refund by almost a month!
Choose direct deposit to receive your refund.
Many businesses offer a direct deposit option to their employees, so it only makes sense that the IRS would offer the same. After all, it’s your money. This is preferred by many taxpayers, based on convenience. On top of that, waiting on direct deposit will eat up less of your time than waiting on a check in the mail.
Make sure you’re the only one claiming your dependent(s).
This can be easier said than done in some cases. However, if you know someone who could also claim your dependent on their tax return, do your best to verify that they won’t be. Why? A person can only be claimed once per year. If a dependent is claimed by more than one person, then the second tax return to claim them will be rejected by the IRS. If the second person to claim the same dependent appeals to the IRS, the IRS may pull the first return for a review, to make sure that the taxpayer was allowed to claim the dependent. In either case, this will ultimately delay your tax refund.
Double check your mailing address.
There are a few reasons why this is an important piece of information to report correctly. First of all, the IRS will typically contact you via mail for required updates on your tax return. You want to make sure that the address you provide is correct to avoid complications.
Secondly, if you choose direct deposit but do not provide the correct bank account information, then the IRS will default to mailing your refund as a check instead to the address listed on your tax return.
Lastly, if you choose to receive your tax refund as a check, then you can expect it to be mailed to (you guessed it) the address on your tax return. If it’s incorrect and undeliverable, the IRS won’t typically go out of their way to reach out to you. In the event of such a delay, you’ll need to contact the IRS again to make sure you receive your refund at the right address.
Triple check all ID numbers.
The IRS has a file on each and every taxpayer who has filed a tax return or has been claimed as a dependent on a tax return. Along with your name, birthday, and income amount, they also know your social security number. Of course, it’s important that ALL information on your tax return is correct. However, it’s pretty easy to miss a digit in a social security number. Just be sure it’s correct, or else your return will be rejected.
Wait for all your income documents before you file.
It may seem you’re doing yourself a favor by filing as soon as possible. However, you might end up with your foot in your mouth if you receive an additional income statement in the mail after filing. This is not anything to panic about. You can just amend your return, update it with the additional information, and re-file it with the IRS. Easy, right? Right.
Just don’t expect an ETA on your refund anytime soon. Amended returns need to be mailed in, and are subject to all the same delays as a return that was originally filed by mail. So it’s better to wait until you’re sure you’ve got all your income statements before filing, to avoid a longer wait afterward.