If you're like the average American, you'll probably get a tax refund this year, and a potentially sizable one at that. In 2017, the typical refund hovered between $2,700 and $2,800, which is consistent with figures from previous years. Now, if you're anticipating that sort of number, you probably want to do whatever you can to get your hands on it sooner. Here are four ways to snag that refund faster this year.
1. File your return early
Though taxes aren't due this year until April 17, the Internal Revenue Service recently announced that it will begin accepting returns as early as Jan. 29. Therefore, the sooner you submit your return, the sooner you'll get your hands on your money. Keep in mind, however, that you may not have the option to move so quickly. If, come late January, you find that you're still missing certain tax forms, you're better off waiting on that information than guessing at it and filing an erroneous return. Keep in mind that companies have until the end of January to issue 1099s, so if you're waiting on one (say, for freelance work, dividend income, or bank interest), you may need to sit tight a bit longer.
2. File electronically
If you're the old school type, you may be inclined to whip out your calculator and sit down to file a paper return. But if your goal is to get your refund as quickly as possible, then it pays to file electronically instead. The IRS reports that it usually takes 21 days to issue refunds for electronic returns, versus six to eight weeks for paper ones. Furthermore, filing electronically can significantly reduce your likelihood of making an error, thus delaying your refund even further.
3. Sign up for direct deposit
Some people like the idea of receiving a physical refund check in the mail. But if you're eager to get your money as quickly possible, sign up for direct deposit. The IRS says that while it can take up to five days after a refund is sent for it to show up in your account, a check can take several weeks. Plus, if you opt for a check, you risk having it get lost in the mail. Signing up for direct deposit is easy, but just make sure that the account you direct your refund to is in your name (whether solely or jointly) or your spouse's name. Otherwise, the IRS won't be able to process that refund directly.
4. Check your tax return for errors
One of the easiest ways to slow down your refund is to make a mistake on your tax return, whether it's omitting key information, entering your Social Security number incorrectly, or neglecting to sign it. Before you submit your return, review it carefully for errors. If you have a trusted family member or friend who might be willing to look it over for you, even better. The more accurate your return, the sooner you can expect that refund to come your way.
Keep in mind that once you do file your tax return, you can use the IRS' "Where's My Refund?" tool to check on the status of your cash. If you file your return electronically, you can generally get this information after just one day. But if you submit your return on paper, it could take up to a month to register on the system, in which case you'll be left waiting not just for your money but for an update as well.
One final thing: While it's natural to want your refund as early as possible, an even better way to get your hands on your money sooner is to avoid overpaying your taxes going forward. The more money you squeeze into your paychecks, the less cash you'll end up waiting on during tax season next year.