Maybe you don’t look forward to doing your taxes. However, if you are one of the millions of Americans who expects a tax refund, you are most likely looking forward to receiving it. And you’re not alone. Many Americans count on their tax refund help pay for big-ticket purchases or pay off expenses.
Once you’ve filed your taxes, the countdown begins to receive your refund, but how long it takes to receive this refund depends on a number of different factors, most of which you can control.
To help ensure you receive your refund as quickly as possible, consider the following when filing:
This may seem obvious, but the sooner you get your taxes filed, the sooner you’ll get your refund. Filing earlier doesn’t necessarily decrease the actual time required for processing a refund, but it does mean you’ll receive your refund earlier.
Filing earlier can also reduce the chance of tax theft. Tax theft is a form of identity theft in which someone obtains your personal information, files a fraudulent return in your name and then pockets your refund. Those who commit this kind of identity theft aim to file early, since many taxpayers postpone filing until closer to the federal filing deadline. By filing early, you’re more likely to be one step ahead of anyone who’s trying to file for a fraudulent refund.
The “E” in E-file stands for “electronic,” or what it also known as digital or online filing. More than 90 percent of tax returns are filed online with software specifically designed for this purpose. E-filing first became an option in 1986. Since then, more than 1.5 billion taxpayers have filed this way, making paper filing largely obsolete. This is partially because e-filing is the secure and convenient alternative to paper filing. It is also because returns that are e-filed are received much faster and processed much quicker and with fewer errors on average than paper returns.
When you e-file, you can also opt to have your tax refund direct deposited into your bank account. When selecting this, the IRS states refunds will be processed within 21 days of the date it accepts the return.
Provided all of the information submitted in your tax return is correct (including your banking account information if you’ve opted for direct deposit), it’s very unlikely your refund will be delayed. That said, it’s nice to be able to track your refund, and you can track it through the IRS’ Where’s My Refund tool (more here). They update the system every 24 hours, so wait at least a day after your return is accepted to begin checking on your refund’s status.
Though receiving your refund is more fun than filing your return, there’s no reason for you to dread tax season. We try to provide a filing system that’s so simple, easy-to-use and accurate that even first-time filers and those without much computer experience can successfully file their taxes.