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How to Speed Up Your Tax Refund

The IRS is understaffed and still dealing with unprocessed returns from years past. Here’s the quickest way to get your tax refund without taking out an advance refund loan, explains Rocky Mengle, tax editor, at

“There are a few things you can do to speed up the process and increase the odds of getting your tax refund quickly. The first trick is to file your return as early as you can. The sooner you file your tax return, the sooner you'll get any tax refund due.

[Ed Note] The IRS has already received 45.4 million individual returns as of February 25, a 0.3% jump from the prior season.

If you want to speed up the refund process even further, e-file your tax return. Paper returns slow things down considerably.

There are a number of ways to file electronically. Of course, you can find a professional tax preparer to file an electronic return for you (most expensive route). Seniors, people earning $58,000 or less, disabled people, and taxpayers with limited English-language skills may also qualify for free tax assistance and e-filing through the IRS's Tax Counseling for the Elderly and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance programs.

There are also several e-filing options for the “do it yourself” crowd, such as using a commercial tax software product (e.g., TurboTax) or forms/software on the IRS website. If your 2021 adjusted gross income is $73,000 or less, you can even file your federal return for free.

Finally, make sure you select the direct deposit payment method for your refund. Just like paper returns, paper checks take much longer to process.

It's also the fastest and most convenient payment option. Plus, there's always the chance that a paper check could get stolen or lost in the mail.

Even if you file early, file electronically, and request direct deposit, it still takes more time for the IRS to process some tax returns.

If that happens, your refund could be delayed. Process delays should be expected if your return:

• Includes errors

• Is incomplete

• Is affected by identity theft or fraud

• Includes Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation (which could take up to 14 weeks to process)

• Needs further review in general

The IRS will contact you by mail if they need more information to process your return.

The IRS’ online tool, Where’s My Refund, lets you track the status of your tax refund. It will tell you if the IRS is processing your return, getting ready to send your refund, or has already sent you your money. The tool, available at, is updated daily.

You'll need your Social Security number (or individual taxpayer identification number), the filing status used on your 2021 tax return, and the exact amount of your expected refund to access it.”

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