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Get your tax refund faster

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Many people like to file their taxes as early as possible for one big reason: to get their refund sooner. Whether you use it to pay down holiday bills, take a winter getaway or help bulk up your savings, it can be an annual boon for many Americans.

To help get your tax refund quickly, make sure to avoid four common filing errors that can prevent your return from being accepted by the IRS.

  1. You use the wrong filing status. Marking the incorrect filing status can sometimes happen following a change in marital status, like a divorce. If one partner files as “married filing separately” and the other files “married filing jointly” or “single,” both returns will be flagged and the returns can be delayed. Make sure you both come to a consensus on how you’re filing so you can both close out your tax year as quickly as possible.
  2. You forget your kids’ Social Security numbers. If you’re claiming your children as dependents or seeking a Child Tax Credit, you must include your children’s Social Security numbers on your tax return. You may not have their numbers memorized like you do your own, which may be why people sometimes write in the wrong number, take a guess or forget to fill in the number altogether. Make sure you include all Social Security numbers asked for, and double check that they’re correct. If your kids’ numbers don’t match what the IRS has on file, your refund can be delayed.
  3. You’re the victim of identity theft and refund fraud. Each year, the IRS pays out billions in fraudulent refunds due to identity theft, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. That’s when scammers steal someone’s name and Social Security number, then file a return and take a refund. If they run this scam on you before you file your tax return, your return can be flagged and your refund delayed. If you receive a letter from the IRS and suspect your identity has been stolen, call the number on the notice. If you don’t receive a notice but suspect you might be the victim of identity theft, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490. You’ll likely have to fill out an affidavit before they can process your return and refund.

    To help protect yourself against identity fraud throughout the year, regularly monitor your credit report and accounts. Shredding documents that contain personal information before throwing them away is helpful too, but since so many of us do our banking online, it’s crucial to lock down your devices. Avoid using public Wi-Fi to access your accounts, enable password protection on your smartphone and always turning off Bluetooth when you’re not using it (thieves can pair their device with your phone or tablet to hack your information).
  4. You claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This tax break is meant to help low- to moderate-income workers reduce the amount of taxes owed. Since people may claim this credit even though they’re not eligible, the IRS will sometimes give these returns a second look, which can delay your refund — even if you are in fact eligible.

    You can find out if you qualify for this credit by using the Earned Income Tax Credit Assistant, an online tool that asks a series of questions that can determine your eligibility.

Consulting your tax professional before filing can help ensure everything is in order, including making sure you’ve maximized your tax savings and all steps have been taken to help get your tax refund in a timely manner.

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Any information regarding taxation contained herein is based on our understanding of current tax law. The tax and legislative information may be subject to change and different interpretations. We recommend that you seek professional legal advice for applicability to your personal situation.