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Tips for Getting a Tax Refund

There are many taxpayers who, after filing their returns, ask ‘where’s my refund?’ only to find out that they aren’t eligible for a refund. A tax refund is issued when the amount of income tax that you paid is more than what you actually owed for that year.

Of course, everyone wants to get a tax refund. And while a refund is never guaranteed, there are some things you can do to better your chances of receiving a check from the IRS. The following tips can help you increase the odds of getting a tax refund and avoid confusion over the ‘where’s my refund’ question.

Plan Ahead

Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare your taxes and file your return. If you’re pressed for time and you rush through the filing process, you could end up making mistakes that cost you your refund. Additionally, taxpayers who submit their returns on the April 15th deadline should be prepared for a longer wait. The longer you wait to file, the longer it will take the IRS to process your return and you may be left wondering ‘where’s my refund?’

Check What You’re Withholding

Make sure you are withholding enough on your Form W-4 (Federal Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate) as well as from your state taxes during the year. Although it sounds simple enough, many taxpayers overlook this factor and just end up asking ‘where’s my refund?’ Whether you work for a company or you’re self-employed, you are in charge of paying your taxes as the year goes by. Form W-2 employees may want to adjust their withholding if they have owed additional money in the past, but would like to get a refund the next year. Those who are self-employed should concentrate on calculating and remitting their estimated tax payments.

While under-withholding can leave you with little (or no) refund, over-withholding can be detrimental as well. Over-withholding taxes to receive a large refund is not recommended since you’re basically recovering money that you could have been using (and earning interest on) during the year.

Claim Tax Benefits

Take advantage of any tax credits and/or tax deductions that you’re eligible for. If you don’t claim the available benefits, you will end up paying more taxes than necessary. In turn, your chance of receiving a refund will decrease ? or even disappear. You don’t want to ask ‘where’s my refund?’ and then discover that you’re not getting one.

Maximize IRA contributions

You have until April 15th (of the year in which you are filing) to make contributions to your Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA). For instance, any money that is contributed between April 16th 2010 and April 15th 2011 could help decrease your 2010 tax liability. It’s always a good idea to focus on lowering your tax liability to keep more money in your pocket.

Hire a Professional

For many people, filing an income tax return can be complicated and confusing. Hiring a tax professional can ease your mind and increase your chance of receiving a refund. A tax pro can help you understand how to decrease your tax liability within the limits of the tax code. However, once your return has been filed, the tax professional isn’t going to know where your refund is. Instead, you will need to contact the IRS or use their online Where’s My Refund? system, which allows taxpayers to log-in and check the status of their refunds.

In addition, the method you used to file your tax return can have an impact on the ‘where’s my refund’ question. If you filed electronically (‘e-filed’) and chose the Direct Deposit option, you can expect your tax refund within 10 business days after the IRS acknowledges receipt your return. On the other hand, if you mailed in your tax return and you’re requesting a paper check, you may have to wait up to 6 weeks.


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