Tax season starts today, and many Americans around the nation are excited to receive their refunds.
This blog post will list six things you do to ensure you receive your tax refund in the least amount of time possible.
E-File Whenever Possible
The IRS is currently facing a tax refund backlog. They still have millions of tax returns to process from last year.
Yet, most of those tax returns from last year are paper returns.
There have been reports of seemingly endless piles of paper tax returns and other documents buried in carts at the IRS headquarters.
As you can imagine filing your paper tax return will be like adding a piece of paper to an already tall pile of papers.
It will most likely get buried underneath all the tax returns from last year and will cause your tax refund to get delayed.
That’s why my first advice is to file your tax return electronically. Doing so can cut weeks or days off your refund timing.
Opt-in For a Direct Deposit
We live in a digital age where everything can be sent over the web, including money.
When you finish your tax return, you will be asked how you would like to receive your refund.
If possible, we advise you to opt-in for direct deposit.
The first reason is that money sent via direct deposit is available almost instantaneously.
Yet, it takes around seven days for regular mail to arrive. The delivery can also be delayed if there’s a public holiday like Christmas.
Also, if you moved recently, the IRS might have the wrong address on file and accidentally send your refund to the wrong location.
Not to mention your check can be stolen or lost.
You don’t have to worry about those issues with direct deposit.
You also don’t have to worry about leaving the house if there’s a bad winter storm outside or you’re on vacation and away from home.
While we can understand the satisfaction of having a physical check in your hand, sometimes it pays more to go digital.
Don’t Get Greedy
When filling out your tax return, it can be tempting to try and apply for all the credits you possibly can to get a bigger refund.
However, lying on your tax return to get a larger refund can get you in a lot of trouble, even if it’s unintentional.
If the IRS catches you in the act, they will try to reach out to you and request that you fix any mistakes made on your tax return.
In the worst-case scenario, you could face civil penalties. The bigger the lie, the larger the penalty you will have to pay.
In most cases, you will have to pay a negligence penalty which is 20% of the additional tax, or a fraud penalty which is 75% of the additional tax.
If you think your tax bill is expensive, imagine adding another 75% increase!
Not to mention every time you don’t pay it, you could be charged a late fee.
Our advice? Refrain from cheating on your tax return.
Seek Professional Help When Needed
If you need help filing your tax return, we recommend seeking professional help.
If you try to fill out your tax return without knowing what you’re doing, you could risk making a mistake on the tax return.
For example, do not try to estimate your income or mortgage interest.
Instead, look for proper documentation that clearly states your income or mortgage rate.
If the information you provided does not match the IRS’s data, your return will be flagged for review.
That could add weeks or more to processing your return.
Wait For All Documentation
Sometimes we try to rush things because we’re eager to get our tax refund ASAP.
However, many people will not have their documents until January 23rd or later.
For example, employers have until January 31st to give you your last year’s W2 or wage and tax statements.
So that means you may not have all of your required information to complete the tax return until a later date.
Watch Out For Scammers!
Some nasty people out there want your tax refund almost as much as you do.
These scammers pretend to be the IRS. They often call with a very threatening tone to try and steal your personal information.
However, the real IRS agency will NEVER call to demand immediate payment using payment types like debit, gift card, or wire transfer.
Generally, the IRS will mail you a bill notifying you of any missed tax payments.
The IRS will NEVER threaten you by bringing in local police or law enforcement groups to have you arrested for non-payment.
Normally the IRS will allow you to ask questions or appeal the amount owed.
If you ever get contacted by a scammer, you can report them by using this form here or call (800) 366-4484.
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