Tax software that uses a straightforward interview format leads taxpayers through the process step-by-step, asking only information that's relevant to their situation.
Riverwoods, IL (Vocus) March 12, 2008
The average refund taxpayers received last year was more than $2,650 and, so far this year, it's climbed another 2 percent to top $2,700, based on IRS data for returns filed as of February 22, 2008.
So, it's no wonder people are eager to get their refunds. How quickly they are able to have access to their hard-earned money depends on what steps they take during tax season, according to analysts for CCH CompleteTax®, the online tax preparation and electronic filing solution for the do-it-yourself taxpayer from CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business. CCH is a leading provider of tax, accounting and audit information, software and services.
"As taxpayers are working through their 2007 tax returns now, there are several steps they can take to reduce, even cut in half, the time it takes to receive any tax refund they are owed," said David Bergstein, CPA, a tax analyst for CCH CompleteTax (http://www.CompleteTax.com).
Among steps Bergstein suggests to speed tax refunds are:
- Make sure the tax return is complete and the math adds up.
Among the quickest ways taxpayers can slow their refund is to leave out information or make a math error. Be certain to include all Social Security numbers needed (the taxpayer's, spouse's, children's, etc.), double-check all math and report all 1099 income as the IRS will have copies of this information as well and require more information from the taxpayer before issuing any refund owed. Also, make sure the tax return is signed - either manually (if mailing) or with an electronic PIN (if e-filing).
- Use tax software to prepare tax returns.
Even individuals that are fairly comfortable with numbers and don't have particularly complicated tax situations will likely save a significant amount of time by using a software program rather than working through their taxes manually. The more complicated, the more time will be saved. And, tax software guards against filing an incomplete return because it checks for missing information and handles most math computations for the taxpayer.
"A lot of people procrastinate because they just dread the thought of sitting down and staring at those tax forms and the nearly 100-page instruction manual to try to figure out where to start, let alone finish," said Bergstein. "Tax software that uses a straightforward interview format leads taxpayers through the process step-by-step, asking only information that's relevant to their situation."
When a paper return is mailed, not only does it take time to reach the IRS, it then needs to be manually accepted, processed and uploaded into the IRS systems, adding even more time. E-filing a tax return cuts out these extra steps so that the IRS can more quickly get to the point of issuing the refund.
According to IRS data, taxpayers seem to be catching on to the benefits of e-filing, with more than 38 million tax returns electronically filed so far this tax year compared to 36 million this time last year and the greatest growth in e-filing is coming from individuals using home computers.
- Use direct deposit.
More taxpayers also appear to be catching on to the speed and convenience of using direct deposit. During this tax season so far, there has been a 5-percent increase in requests for direct deposit of refunds. Taxpayers combining direct deposit with e-filing can ensure they receive their refund even quicker, on average in less than two weeks compared to six weeks if they print and mail in their tax return and request a refund by check. With direct deposit, taxpayers also can choose to split their refund into up to three different accounts, including an IRA account for their 2008 contribution.
One area where taxpayers don't seem to be catching on, however, is in understanding that the end goal of tax season should not be a hefty refund check. So far this year, the IRS has paid taxpayers more than $106.65 billion in refunds, an increase of 4 percent from last year.
"Imagine if you asked a banker to send you a few hundred dollars each month and, in return, you'd pay him back interest-free at the end of 15 months. No one would take you up on that offer," said Bergstein. "Yet tens of millions of taxpayers loan thousands of dollars to the IRS every year and then get excited when they're paid back as though it's new-found money.
"If you're getting a significant amount back each year, it's a clear sign you need to talk to your employer about reducing the amount that is withheld from your pay," said Bergstein.
About CCH CompleteTax
CCH CompleteTax, an online tax preparation and e-filing service for the do-it-yourself taxpayer, continues to set the standard when it comes to making online tax prep and e-filing easy, efficient and affordable. CCH CompleteTax offers comprehensive support to help taxpayers through each step of preparing and e-filing both federal and state income tax returns.
About CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business
CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business (http://www.CCHGroup.com) is a leading provider of tax, accounting and audit information, software and services. It has served tax, accounting and business professionals and their clients since 1913. Among its market-leading products are The ProSystem fx® Office, CorpSystem™, CCH® Tax Research NetWork™, Accounting Research Manager® and the U.S. Master Tax Guide®. CCH is based in Riverwoods, Ill.
Wolters Kluwer is a leading global information services and publishing company. Its shares are quoted on the Euronext Amsterdam (WKL) and are included in the AEX and Euronext 100 indices. For more information, visit http://www.wolterskluwer.com.