This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Five Ways to Speed Up Your Tax Refund

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 the pros on avoiding delays:

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.

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.

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.

Steber says he once lacked confidence in the electronic filing system, but changed his mind about five years ago, when his paper return ultimately arrived late because of insufficient postage. "I was one stamp short," he recalls.

2. Include the Correct Social Security Numbers

Errors involving Social Security numbers, which are now easily identified by e-filing, may slow the processing of your return. "You certainly want to file electronically to speed up your refund -- but with the correct information," says Charles Barragato, a New York-based CPA and director of the School of Professional Accountancy at Long Island University in Brookville, N.Y.

Women who change their surnames upon marriage without notifying the Social Security Administration are likely to encounter problems, he says. The solution is to either to obtain a social security number under the new married name -- a process that can take at least four to six weeks -- or to refile under the maiden name and correct the information with the Social Security Administration after tax season, he says.

3. Choose Direct Deposit

Taxpayers who combine direct deposit with e-filing can receive their refund, on average, in less than two weeks, according to CCH. Direct-deposit requests are up 5% to date this year over the same time last year, it says. Taxpayers using direct deposit may also split their refund into as many as three different accounts, including an IRA account for a 2008 distribution.

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 18,053.71 +23.50 0.13%
S&P 500 2,088.77 +6.89 0.33%
NASDAQ 4,806.8590 +33.3870 0.70%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs