How to Get Your Tax Refund Faster – and When You Can Expect It to Arrive

How to Get Your Tax Refund Faster – and When You Can Expect It to Arrive
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If you've got big plans for your tax refund, well, so do we! Here's everything you need to know about the fastest way to get your money back from the government.

How to get your tax refund faster

  • Fastest: E-file your tax forms and request a direct deposit.
  • Not as fast: E-file, but request a paper check that must be printed and mailed. Slows your tax refund down by approximately one week.
  • Also not as fast: File by mail, but request a direct deposit. Slows your tax refund down by approximately one week.
  • Slowest: File by mail, request a paper check that must be printed and mailed. Your refund will arrive approximately two weeks later than if you had opted to e-file with direct deposit.

Basically, our advice for the fastest tax refund is to submit your tax returns online through a trusted service like TurboTax Online and request a direct deposit to your bank account. It costs a little more than DIY paper tax forms, but TurboTax also will walk you through credits and deductions you might have missed. If you don't have cash on hand, no worries – you can opt to have the fee automatically deducted from your return. The peace of mind for more complex returns and speedy refund make it worthwhile.

Things that slow your tax return down

Paper anything.
Filing paper forms by mail? That's going to take longer since the forms have to travel first, then must be scanned into IRS databases, all of which takes time. Want a paper check? That check must be printed and mailed – and that's another speed bump. Mailing your forms and asking for a paper check each put roughly an extra 7 days between you and your tax refund. That's an extra 14 days if you're dealing with both. In the digital age, a good rule of thumb is that when paper is involved, it tends to slow the whole process down.

Claiming certain tax credits.
If you're claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), the IRS is required by law to hold your refund until mid-February, meaning that 2/27 is the earliest date anyone claiming either of these tax credits can expect to see their refund arrive.

Errors and incomplete forms.
Take the time to dot your i's and cross your t's when completing your tax returns. Avoidable mistakes like missed fields and typographical errors can lead to significant delays. The IRS may even send it back to you for revisions.

Identity theft activity.
If the IRS knows that you've been affected by identify theft or fraud, whether now in the past, they may flag your return for some extra scrutiny. As frustrating as the delay may be, it's good to remember that this is a safety measure wherein the IRS is making sure that your tax refund is going to the right person – you vs. a criminal filing in your name.

When will my tax refund arrive?

We've built this calendar of estimated arrival dates for tax refunds based on when you filed your returns. Add 7 days to the ETA if you filed by mail or opted for a paper check, and add 14 if you did both.

Important Disclaimer: The dates shows here are estimates based on IRS Tax Refund Frequently Asked Questions. Those filing nearer the beginning of this calendar may be treated to earlier-than-expected arrivals; for those who wait, delays are possible for a number of reasons beyond IRS control – a high volume of submissions to process and government shutdowns come to mind as real possibilities.

Submitted on: Direct Deposit ETA:
1/29/18 - 2/4/18 2/19/18 - 2/25/18
2/5/18 - 2/11/18 2/26/18 - 3/4/18
2/12/18 - 2/18/18 3/5/18 - 3/11/18
2/19/18 - 2/25/18 3/12/18 - 3/18/18
2/26/18 - 3/4/18 3/19/18 - 3/25/18
3/5/18 - 3/11/18 3/26/18 - 4/1/18
3/12/18 - 3/18/18 4/2/18 - 4/8/18
3/19/18 - 3/25/18 4/9/18 - 4/15/18
3/26/18 - 4/1/18 4/16/18 - 4/22/18
4/2/18 - 4/8/18 4/23/18 - 4/29/18
4/9/18 - 4/15/18 4/30/18 - 5/6/18
4/16/18 - 4/17/18 5/7/18 - 5/8/18

 

How will you spend your tax refund in 2018? Tell us in the comments below.