3 Ways To Ensure A Fast Tax Refund

The new year is here and it’s time to start thinking about filing your taxes, especially if you’re planning on making your final estimated tax payment by January 15th.  It can be quite the hassle trying to get together all of the paperwork, forms and other required tax data, but it’s gotta be done!

If you’re one of the people who have overpaid their taxes and are expecting a refund, it can be quite the hassle waiting to hear back from the IRS as to when you’ll be getting your money, but there are things you can do to ensure a fast tax refund.

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ensure fast tax refund

3 Ways To Ensure You Get Your Tax Refund Quickly

There are a variety of things you can do to make sure that you get your refund as quick as possible.  Here are the top 3.

E-file Your Taxes This Year

If you’re one of the people who aren’t e-filing, you may want to consider going that route this year if you want to get your refund quickly.   Filing a paper return can mean waiting up to four weeks to get the status of your refund.

To join the nearly 100 million others doing e-filed tax returns, all you’ll need is a computer, internet access and a tax preparation software.   There are a ton of good options out there for e-filing and a while back I wrote about a few of my favorite free or low cost tax preparation options.  Among them were TurboTax, CompleteTax Free, Tax Act Online Free Edition and H & R Block at Home Free Edition.

If you make less than a certain adjusted gross income you may also be eligible for the government’s  Free File program where you can get free tax preparation with some affiliated companies. Check the government site linked above for details.

Check For Common Errors

If you make errors on your return it can delay your refund, so it can be a good idea to give your return a good once over before filing it. Consider checking what the IRS suggests are the most common tax-filing errors:

  • Incorrect or missing Social Security numbers for you, your spouse or dependents.
  • Incorrect tax entered based on taxable income and filing status.
  • Checking more than one filing status.
  • Errors when figuring out income, deductions, credits and exemptions.
  • Withholding and estimated tax payments entered on the wrong line.
  • Math errors.
  • Entering items on the wrong lines.

Use Direct Deposit For Fast Refunds

One way to ensure that you get your money quick is to make sure that you’ve set up direct deposit for your refund. No only does it save time but it will prevent the check from getting lost or stolen in the mail. Just make sure to provide the IRS with your account number and routing number when filing, and your refund will be deposited directly into your account.

When Is Information About Your Refund Available?

You can go to the IRS site 72  hours after they  acknowledges receipt of the return that you e-filed,  and check the status of your 2011 tax return.  If you filed a paper return you will have to wait up to four weeks.

When checking for your refund make sure to have a copy of your 2011 tax return available as you’ll need information from the documents when checking the refund status.

So where can you check your refund status?

Federal Refund Status

To check the status of your federal refund you can go to the IRS website and click on “Where’s My Refund“.   It will ask you for your social security number, your filing status and the refund amount you were expecting.  You can also call the IRS at 1-800-829-4477 (24 hours a day, seven days a week for automated refund information).

State Refund Status

For state refund status checking for your refund may be a bit more involved.   Different states have different ways to check – from online to phone only.  Find your state in the table below to check your refund status.

StateOnline Refund StatusPhone number
ALAlabama Dept. of Revenue800-558-3912
AKAlaska has no personal income tax
AZArizona Dept. of Revenue602-255-3381
ARArkansas Dept. of Finance and Admin.501-324-9057?
CACalifornia Franchise Tax Board800-852-5711
COColorado Dept. of Revenue303-238-3278
CTConnecticut Dept. of Revenue860-297-5962
DEDelaware Dept. of Revenue302-577-8784
FLFlorida Dept. of Revenue850-488-8937
GAGeorgia Dept. of Revenue877-423-6711
HIHawaii Dept. of Taxation808-587-4242
IDIdaho Tax Commission208-334-7660
ILIllinois Dept. of Revenue800-732-8866
INIndiana Dept. of Revenue317-232-2240
IAIowa Dept. of Revenue515-281-4966
KSKansas Dept. of Revenue800-894-0318
KYKentucky Dept. of Revenue502-564-1600
LALouisiana Dept. of Revenue225-219-0102
MEMaine Revenue Services207-626-8475
MDMaryland Comptroller800-218-8160
MAMassachusetts Dept. of Revenue800-392-6089
MIMichigan Dept. of Treasury517-373-3200
MNMinnesota Revenue651-296-3781
MSMississippi Tax Commission601-923-7801
MOMissouri Dept. of Revenue573-526-8299
MTMontana Dept. of Revenue866-859-2254
NENebraska Dept. of Revenue800-742-7474
NVNevada has no personal income tax
NHNew Hampshire has no personal income tax
NJYou must call.800-323-4400
NMNew Mexico Taxation and Revenue505-476-3778
NYNew York Dept. of Taxation and Finance518-457-5149
NCNorth Carolina Dept. of Revenue877-252-4052
NDOffice of State Tax Commissioner701-328-2770
OHOhio Dept. of Taxation Services800-282-1780
OKYou must call.405-521-3160
OROregon Dept. of Revenue503-378-4988
PAPennsylvania Dept. of Revenue Services717-787-8201
RIRhode Island Division of Taxation401-574-8941
SCSouth Carolina Dept. of RevenueFind the phone number here
SDSouth Dakota has no personal income tax
TNTennessee has no personal income tax
TXTexas has no personal income tax
UTUtah Tax Commission801-297-2200
VTVermont Dept. of Taxes802-828-0145
VAVirginia Dept. of Taxation804-367-2486
WAWashington has no personal income tax
WVWest Virginia Dept. of Revenue304-558-3333
WIWisconsin Dept. of Revenue866-947-7363
WYWyoming has no personal income tax

Last Edited: 5th January 2012

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    Share Your Thoughts:

  1. says

    I use these three steps every year, and I always have my refund in hand by the end of February. I enjoy filing my taxes as early as possible to just get it out of the way and to collect my refund as soon as I can. I’ve been lucky to never have any problems that have held up my refund, either.

  2. Tyler S. says

    TurboTax is what I’ve heard of most, but I’ve never tried any tax software to work. I’m looking into in for this year, is it your #1, Peter?

  3. says

    Also getting them done early is a sure way to see your possible refund faster. Many people tend to wait until the end of tax season, either due to the fact that they have to wait on others to provide information (generally in the case of K-1s from MLPs & partnerships) or out of their own laziness. This causes a log-jam both at many tax preparation offices and with the IRS having to process a large number of returns within a small window.

    You can even have the return prepared and ready to go before the IRS makes filing available, so all that is needed is the push of a button one filing is permitted. This is what I do–my business and personal return are already prepared in my tax program, and all I have to do is press the button to transmit them once the 9th and 17th of January comes around, respectively.

  4. Jeff Crews says

    E-filing and Direct Deposit are great. Snail mail is just to slow and risky (you don’t want the neighborhood mailman dog chasing the mailman and have your check fall out of his deliveries). Keeping track of everything over the year and filing early are some great tips also.

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