The IRS owes thousands of dollars to millions of Americans. If you’re one of them, you’re probably eager to get your money back ASAP so you can start putting it to good use.
The good news is, taking just two key steps can help you get your money a lot faster. Here’s what you need to do if you want to get back the money you overpaid the IRS — and right away.
1. File your taxes electronically
Tax filers have a choice between submitting paper returns by mailing in their forms or filing their taxes electronically. But if you want to get your hands on your refund ASAP, electronic filing is the way to go.
When you e-file, there’s a very good chance you’ll receive your refund within 21 days or less. However, if you submit your tax returns via mail, it will typically take around six weeks for the IRS to receive, process, and mail them. And ongoing holdups due to COVID-19 could potentially result in an even longer delay for mailed in forms.
If you want to e-file in order to get your refund ASAP, the good news is that you can probably do so for free. The IRS has a website that provides resources you can access to submit your tax forms electronically at no cost to you. These resources include fillable forms that people of any income can use for free, as well as software that guides you through tax preparation but which is free only if you have an adjusted gross income of $73,000 or less.
Be aware, though, that if you’re filing electronically using guided tax prep software, submitting your state returns may or may not come at a cost depending on income, the software you use, and where you live.
2. Claim your refund via direct deposit
The IRS also urges tax filers to request their refunds via direct deposit if they want their money quickly, rather than requesting a paper check. As the IRS explains, direct deposit is free, convenient, and secure.
To obtain your refund via direct deposit, just select this option as your refund method and enter both your bank account and routing number when filing. You can even split your refund into multiple financial accounts if you want to do so, or you can buy up to $5,000 in savings bonds with the money.
Your refund can be directly deposited into checking accounts; savings accounts; and certain retirement accounts, college savings accounts, or health savings accounts. Just be sure to correctly type both your account and routing numbers for whatever account you’re using.
If you follow these two steps, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get all of the money the IRS owes you within around three weeks or less. However, not everyone will get such a timely refund. Those who are claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit will not be eligible to receive any portion of their refund until at least mid-February.
The IRS also makes it easy for anyone to find out exactly when their refund is coming using the online Where’s My Refund tool so you can keep tabs on when your money will be delivered to you.
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