Why let Uncle Sam hold on to your tax refund any longer than necessary? Avoiding a few common pitfalls while preparing your return can mean the difference between waiting about two weeks for your refund instead of months.
The average dollar amount of this year's refund is slightly higher than in 2007, according to CCH, a tax information provider. Refunds for tax returns filed as of Feb. 22, 2008 averaged $2,700 -- 2% higher than last year's average $2,650 refund. Overall, the government is benefiting from an interest-free loan of more than $106 billion so far this year, according to CCH.
That's all the more reason to get your refund as quickly as possibly.
Here are a few tips from THESTREET.COM on avoiding delays:
Relying on snail mail can be just as much of a mistake during the electronic era as adding incorrectly, says Mark Steber, vice president of tax resources for Jackson Hewitt Tax Service(JTX) in Parsippany, N.J. "It's more accurate and there are many safeguards built into the e-filing process," he says.
1. File Electronically
Americans are catching on to the benefits of filing electronically, according to David Bergstein, CPA, a CCH tax analyst. Taxpayers have filed more than 38 million tax returns electronically so far this tax year, compared to 36 million this time in 2007. The greatest growth in e-filing is from individuals using home computers, he says.
For example, the electronic process easily identifies when an incorrect social security number accompanies a person's name -- a feature that could prevent income information from being attributed to the wrong person. Taxpayers also receive immediate verification that the IRS has received the return. Refunds can arrive as quickly as within eight to 10 days, he says. But the process can take between four and six weeks when filing a paper return -- assuming that it's correct.