Receive Your Federal Tax Refund Faster

The tax season is officially upon us and if you anticipate receiving a refund, you want to get that refund as quickly as possible.  The best way to receive your refund is to have it directly deposited into your checking or savings account.

It is simple, safe and secure and can be deposited into as many as three different accounts, including an Individual Retirement Account, if desired.  Eighty percent of taxpayers use this method, which is used by other federal agencies such as Social Security and the Veterans Administration.  This avoids the possibility of a lost or stolen check or a paper check being returned to the IRS as undeliverable. 

So, how do you use this preferred method for refunds?  When your return is prepared either by yourself or by a tax preparer, the selection of the direct deposit method for the refund is made on the return and the account and routing numbers are provided.  However, make certain that the account and routing numbers are accurate or you may be giving a gift of your refund to someone you don’t know!  Seriously, you should only have your refunds deposited into accounts that are in the name(s) of the taxpayers on the return generating the refund. 

Another handy option is that a portion of your refund can even be used to purchase up to $5,000 in U.S. Series I Savings Bonds.  If you select this option, you must use IRS Form 8888 – Allocation of Refund (including Savings Bond Purchases), if a paper return is filed.

Bear in mind that no more than three electronic tax refunds can be deposited into a single financial account or prepaid debit card. Taxpayers who exceed the limit will receive an IRS notice and a paper refund will be issued for the refunds exceeding that limit.

All taxpayers are encouraged to file their returns electronically. This is a safer, more efficient manner to file.  Plus, you get the added bonus of typically receiving any refund with 21 days from date of filing as compared to waiting approximately six to eight weeks if you file a paper return. 

Refunds can be tracked using “Where’s My Refund?” on IRS.gov or by downloading the IRS2Go mobile app.  “Where’s My Refund?” is updated once daily, usually overnight, so there’s no reason to check more than once per day or call the IRS to get information about a refund. You  can check “Where’s My Refund?” within 24 hours after the IRS has received your e-filed return or four weeks after receipt of a mailed paper return. “Where’s My Refund?” has a tracker that displays progress through three stages: (1) Return Received, (2) Refund Approved, and (3) Refund Sent.

Regardless of the method used to prepare your taxes, electronic filing vastly reduces tax return errors, as the tax software does the calculations, flags common errors and prompts for missing information.

Happy tax preparation.

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Kay Sowa

About the Author

Kay Sowa is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent, an Accredited Estate Planner®, and a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. She oversees the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. She is an accomplished author and lecturer who has frequently spoken on behalf of a number of organizations including the National Business Institute and the Institute of Paralegal Education.

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