Tax season kicks off. Here’s how to get a faster refund and avoid ‘self-inflicted mistakes,’ expert says

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Tax season has kicked off and the IRS has started to process 2023 returns. If you’re expecting a refund, there are a few ways to get the money faster, experts say.

Often, “self-inflicted mistakes” cause refund delays, according to Mark Steber, chief tax information officer at Jackson Hewitt.

The IRS is planning for more than 146 million individual tax returns this season, and the deadline for most filers is April 15.

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Typically, you get a refund when you overpay taxes throughout the year. As of Dec. 29, the average refund for last year’s filings was $3,167, which was 2.6% smaller than 2022.

‘The best way to get your refund fast’

With many Americans relying on tax refunds, there are a few ways to speed up the process, experts say.

“Filing electronically and selecting direct deposit is the best way to get your refund fast,” IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel told reporters during a media briefing Friday. During fiscal 2022, some 93.8% of individual taxpayers filed electronic returns, according to the IRS.

Filing electronically and selecting direct deposit is the best way to get your refund fast.

Danny Werfel

IRS Commissioner

When selecting direct deposit, it’s important to double-check your banking details such as routing and account numbers. If those are wrong, the IRS may have to mail your payment by check, experts say.

Don’t ‘guesstimate’ on your taxes

Tax return mistakes are another reason for delayed refunds.

“You need to be accurate,” Steber said. “You can guesstimate on horseshoes” but not on your taxes, Steber added. You’ll need all the necessary tax forms to file a complete and error-free return. Otherwise, the IRS systems may flag your return for missing information.

Some common tax return errors are “surprisingly simple,” such as missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers, misspelled names, entering information wrong and math mistakes, according to the IRS.

When to expect your tax refund

Most taxpayers will receive their refund within 21 days of submitting their return, “and many people will see it faster than that,” Werfel said Friday. Of course, paper-filed returns or filings with errors may take longer.

There’s also a longer timeline if you’re claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit. By law, those filers won’t see refunds until Feb. 27 at the earliest, according to the IRS.

You can check your payment status via the Where’s My Refund tool, which provides more details this season, including actions needed from taxpayers, Werfel said.

You can use the tool to check your refund status within 24 hours of filing a current-year, electronic return and the IRS updates it overnight every day.