Filing early is the number one tip offered by tax professionals year after year. But if you happened to not file your taxes between the end of January and early April of 2018, chances are you’re not alone. The key to avoiding trouble has always been to not let the deadline pass.
This year is no exception, but there are a couple of updates to be aware of.
The first being the tax filing deadline is on April 17, 2017 instead of the usual April 15. April 15 falls on a Sunday this year. The following Monday, April 16 isn’t an option either because Emancipation Day is observed in Washington D.C. on that day. And this holiday affects taxpayer deadlines. If you do happen to require a filing deadline extension, you will have until Monday, October 15, 2018 to file.
According to the IRS, over 70 percent of taxpayers (155 million) are projected to see a refund this year. That’s up by about 40 million from 2017.
So while refunds are on the rise, what are some ways that you can bring down the time in which you’re waiting for it to show up in your bank account?
1. File Fast and Free
The best thing you can do is file early. This may seem like a no-brainer, but the professionals say many people still don’t realize the impact early filing can have. If something goes wrong with your return, you might not have time to deal with any extra security steps involved, due to tax return fraud. The IRS will take its time in this area, so you should give yourself a cushion.
Also, do your due diligence to make yourself aware of the many options available to file your taxes for free. Low to moderate income taxpayers can benefit from one of a number of assistance programs that will help to streamline the process. This will not only save you time, but unnecessary expense and stress as well.
2. Make Sure All Information is Correct
The simplest of missteps can be cause for countless delayed refunds.
Take the time to review such things as your name, Social Security number, and bank routing number carefully. If you got married or divorced in the last year, double check that your name is updated, particularly if you’re e-filing.
“If you’re using tax preparation software, the software defaults to whatever the taxpayer’s last name is. So for people who have recently changed or blended names and are not paying attention that can cause an error. Make sure to correct for that,” says Nina Tross, Executive Director of the National Society of Tax Professionals.
“In terms of the bank routing information, people seem to have the feeling that the bank verifies this stuff, and that’s not the case.”
3. File Electronically
Why is filing electronically a key part of getting that tax refund quick? The answer is it expedites the entire process.
There are numerous ways available to file electronically these days. Those whose adjusted gross income is $62,000 or less annually may want to use the Free File software options provided by the IRS. There are many well known companies and software options available through this program, including TaxSlayer, Jackson Hewitt, and H&R Block’s Free File.
In addition, for a fee, there are many commercial online tax preparation services and software.
- Related: The Best Tax Software
4. Opt for Direct Deposit of Your Refund
This option may not be for everyone, particularly those who don’t have a bank account. But, like filing electronically, it’s one of the best ways to speed things up. (Plus, who doesn’t like to get those deposit notifications? It’s like Christmas!)
One underrated reason in favor of this option is it takes away the worry of the post office possibly losing your check.
Taxpayers without a bank account may want to look into establishing an Individual Development Account. A valuable tool for low-income families, IDAs are savings accounts that in many cases are able to receive a direct deposit.
If none of these options are feasible, your best route is to file early and make absolutely sure that your check is being sent to a secure location.