Filing income taxes isn’t something most people actually enjoy doing, but millions of Americans actually look forward to tax season for one simple reason: they expect a refund. The truth is that the refund isn’t actually free money, it is actually a refund of an overpayment that was made to the United States government. Hence it’s called a refund.
In most years the tax season would be winding down. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s tax filing deadline was extended from the normal April 15 to May 17. That’s good news for those who still have yet to file, and actually could be better news for those who tend to rush things.
To get your refund sooner, the IRS has recommended you file electronically. There is even the IRS Free File, an online portal that allows taxpayers to prepare and file their tax returns electronically, and as the name suggests it is free and available to anyone with an income of $72,000 or less. All taxpayers and tax professionals are encouraged to file electronically if possible.
Filing electronically, whether through IRS Free File or other e-file service providers, is a great way to cut the chances for many tax return mistakes and maximize deductions to reduce tax owed at the same time, the IRS explained. The tax software automatically applies the latest tax laws, checks for available credits or deductions, does the calculations, and asks taxpayers for all required information.
For those who made above the $72,000 threshold, there are still the IRS’s Free File Fillable Forms, which are electronic versions of the IRS paper forms. Filing will still have to be done via mail-in, but the use of the forms can still speed the process. Paper filers should also confirm the right address for where to file on IRS.gov or on the form instructions so as to avoid processing delays.
It can also ensure that mistakes aren’t made.
In fact, the IRS has warned this month that typical tax errors can slow your refund. This can include ensuring that your name and Social Security number (SSN) are correct. If a dependent or spouse doesn’t have or is not eligible to get an SSN, then you will need to list their Individual Tax Identification Number in place of the SSN.
Direct deposit can also allow taxpayers to access the refund faster, but ensure that you’re providing the right routing and account numbers. Incorrect numbers are a common cause for a refund to be delayed or worse deposited into the wrong account. Taxpayers can also use their refund to purchase U.S. Savings Bonds.
Likewise, it is important to report all taxable income. Under-reporting income may lead to penalties and interest.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.