"Don't count on getting the refund by a certain date to make major purchases or pay other financial obligations. Even though the IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, it’s possible your tax return may require additional review and take longer."
That's the advice from the Internal Revenue Service in its just updated Publication 2043.
A few years ago, this document was known as the IRS e-file refund cycle chart. Basically, it told electronic filers when they could expect to get their refunds.
Three weeks for refunds: However, as folks started getting antsy when their refund checks didn't show up on the predicted date, the IRS abandoned the delivery date table.
Instead, the IRS now aims to issue refunds within three weeks of a return's receipt.
That 21-day turnaround, says Uncle Sam's tax collector, is the case for 9 out of 10 refund anticipating taxpayers.
Fraud fighting slow-down: But, and there's always a but when it comes to taxes, the increase in tax identity theft and refund fraud has changed the tax season timetable.
Tax software companies and the IRS have joined forces to increase tax filing security, and that means that 1040 processing and subsequent issuance of refunds has slowed for many filers.
To make sure that you're among the 90 percent of filers getting your tax cash back quickly, the IRS has some suggestions.
1. Use e-file.
Not only are electronically prepared and submitted returns more accurate (thank you software calculators), the 1040s go directly into the IRS system instead of having to be input by IRS agents.
2. Verify all ID numbers.
Social Security or taxpayer identification numbers for yourself, your spouse and your dependents must match up with what's in the federal database. If they don't, your return will automatically be pulled for review.
At best, a wrong or transposed ID number will slow your return's processing, and therefore slow your refund.
At worst, it could cost you some money if a tax break that relies on a SSN or taxpayer identification number is denied.
3. Enter your correct mailing address.
If you opt for a paper refund check, you want to make sure it gets to your snail mail box. Even if you request that your refund be directly deposited, the IRS wants to know where you call home in case it needs to contact you about something on the return or it must mail you a paper check instead.
Issuance of a check when you've requested direct deposit is an unusual occurrence, but it does happen, such as when a bank rejects a deposit because of concerns about the owner of the account and the taxpayer(s) to whom the refund is issued.
Regardless of why a check is mailed, if it is deemed undeliverable and returned to the IRS, the tax agency is not going to take the time to track you down and resend it. So give the IRS a good mailing address on your return.
4. Have your refund directly deposited.
Not only is direct deposit generally safer than mailing a refund check, it's quicker. But you must make sure that you enter the correct bank account and routing numbers on your tax return to complete the transaction.
If you select to split your depositing into multiple accounts by filing Form 8888, also make sure that all those financial institution numbers are correct.
A transposition here could send your tax money to someone else's account. That's why I said direct deposit is "generally" safer.
Here's hoping that completing your return is easy this filing season and that you get your refund quickly.
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