Have you ever noticed how time seems to move more slowly when you’re looking forward to something? Vacations, parties, special events – the countdown to the big day can be excruciating.
The same principle applies when you’re waiting for your tax refund. A nice sum of money headed your way? Each day of the wait seems to take ages, and checking the IRS Where’s My Refund page every few minutes doesn’t help it arrive any faster.
While there’s not much you can do to get your money more quickly once you’ve submitted your taxes for the year, there are some things you can do when filing to help speed it along. So whether you’ve already filed but want to expedite your refund next time, or you’re just getting started with your taxes this year, here are 5 time-saving hacks to getting your tax refund as quickly as possible.
1. Time it right.
While filing your taxes the second you get your W-2 in early January might seem like a logical way to get your refund more quickly, the IRS has a set date each year when they start accepting tax returns, and filing before that date unfortunately doesn’t change that. And if you’re claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit, the IRS legally can’t issue your refund until mid-February at the earliest – so filing super early won’t help you there either.
Waiting too long, on the other hand, is also likely to cause a delay. If you don’t file until the deadline in April, your return will hit the IRS at the same time as all those other procrastinators’, and the sheer volume of returns needing to be processed can mean a slower refund. The answer? Wait until the IRS starts accepting returns, and then file as soon as possible. This will get you the quickest turnaround time.
2. Avoid mistakes.
The IRS is notorious for going over tax returns with a fine-toothed comb, and unfortunately, any mistake at all, even a small typo, can mean the difference between a speedy refund and a long delay. From transposing digits of your social security number, to choosing the wrong filing status, seemingly insignificant mistakes can cause the IRS to take a second look at your return, and ask you for clarification, or fix it themselves. Either way, you’re not getting that refund any time soon.
3. Wait for all your paperwork.
Sure, you’re eager to get that refund – but jumping the gun and filing before you’re sure you’ve received all your paperwork is a sure way to delay it instead. If you file your taxes and then receive a 1099, say, a few days later, that means the IRS just received a copy, too – and that means they’ll be sending you a letter asking you why it wasn’t included. This can cause a delay to that quick refund.
4. File your taxes electronically.
This one probably goes without saying these days, but filing your taxes online gets your refund processed and into your hands a lot faster than mailing a paper return ever could. In fact, the IRS itself says that it takes 6-8 weeks to issue a refund from a paper return – but only 21 days when you file electronically.
5. Choose direct deposit.
Another clear choice for the impatient, direct deposit cuts out the middle man of the post office, getting your refund into your bank account ASAP. As long as you double check that you’ve entered your account information correctly, your money will show up in your account in just days, as opposed to the weeks you’ll wait for a paper check in the mail.
So while they may not make waiting any easier, at least these hacks will help shorten the time you’ll be in suspense. For more helpful information about tax returns and refunds, check out our popular articles at the bottom of this page or our FAQ page, here.