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What is the quickest way to get your tax refund?

Posted January 14, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— Want a quick tax refund? File your federal tax returns electronically.

With tax season approaching, the Internal Revenue Service is expanding a program that enables taxpayers to file returns online at no charge, promising refunds much faster than for those who mail in paper forms.

Electronic filing speeds tax refund Electronic filing speeds tax refund

In these tough economic times, a lot of taxpayers are counting on those refunds.

“Like the commercial says, 'I need my money now,'” Raleigh resident Theresa Hennegan said.

Hennegan is the mother of an 11-year-old and a 3-month-old. She applied for a loan based on a program linked to the tax refund she could be getting from the government.

“I normally take my time. (But this year), I got to pay bills,” Hennegan said,

Triangle tax offices say they are seeing a sense of urgency among people depending upon their potential tax refund.

“A lot of people may have lost their job last year, so they're interested in filing right away,” said Jim Morgan, with H&R Block.

“Usually our peak starts about the fifth Monday of the year, which is typically the first Monday in February. I see it happening maybe a week earlier this year,” said C.L. Carmichael, with Liberty Tax Service.

The average refund nationally last year was $2,429.

"That's a lot of money for people who are facing hardship," said Terry Lemons, senior spokesman for the IRS. "We encourage people to take a look at their taxes, file electronically and use direct deposit."

You can get your refund in 10 days that way, versus four weeks or longer if you file by mail. Last year, two out of three North Carolinians filed their taxes electronically

“It's quick. The process is quick,” Sharon Tanner, with the North Carolina Department of Revenue, said.

Tanner says filing online also cuts down on paperwork and mistakes.

“Make sure you do things in an honest way and do it accurately,” Tanner said.

About 80 percent of North Carolinians are eligible for the state’s free online filing program. The requirements include age, income level and military status. For more on the program, visit the state Department of Revenue Web site.

Hennegan says she is hoping for the largest refund possible.

“I believe in faith and God, and I believe my bills will get paid,” she said.

You might find yourself eligible for a broad range of credits for which you didn't qualify before. Among them: the Earned Income Tax Credit, education credits and the Recovery Rebate Credit.

The stimulus checks that people received last year actually were an advance payment on the Recovery Rebate Credit. Initial eligibility was determined based on 2007 tax returns.

The Earned Income Tax Credit was designed to help low-income workers by offsetting part of their Social Security and Medicare taxes. Since it boosts take-home pay, it is meant to provide an incentive to work. The maximum income limit is $41,646. That declines based on filing status and the number of children in the household. The maximum credit for 2008 is $4,824, up from $4,716 in 2007.

Friday is the first day to file your taxes electronically. Congress pushed up the filing time by a week this year.

46 Comments

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  • szdomb Jan 15, 8:23 p.m.

    "New laws.....If you don't pay your taxes...according to the new person obama has selected to be in charge, it's just a hickup...or honest mistake. I would recommend that we all try that, and see if they ever catch us!"

    Do not even think about it !

    I heard in the radio that somebody owed IRS 85 cents. He got a nasty letter saying that payment NOW ... or interest, penalties, lien on house.

    One week later it turned out that IRS owes 50 cents. Oh ! Different rules. No automatic payment !!! ... as less than a dollar, YOU have to beg for it. You have to fill up a form to request refund. No interest, no compensation :)))

    Two sides of a fence. Interesting.

  • FE Jan 15, 8:18 p.m.

    I've never understood why the goal is to get a "big refund" when the real goal SHOULD be to keep your taxes low.

    If you want a huge refund, claim "single/zero exemption" then get married (tell your spouse to do the same) and have a bunch of kids. I guarantee you will get a big refund!

    Most folks think it is stupid to LOAN their own money each year to the government, interest free. Some of the more thinking people plan ahead to get either a minimal tax refund or actually owe (without penalty) some taxes by April 15th.

    FE

  • scientistjo Jan 15, 4:36 p.m.

    For all the child bashers. Kids do not work. Imagine if there were 3 people just like you in your apartment and you had to support all three on your income. BTW, the amount you get back for having kids isn't really like a second income.

    Did anyone notice how many times people said "it's not fair" on this? The grass is always greener, isn't it?

  • justbnme Jan 15, 3:42 p.m.

    there's only so much adjusting you can do when you're single.
    claiming 1 is the only thing you can do to get more money
    in your check. I already claim that and they kill me each paycheck and still don't get anything back at the end of the year.

  • GWALLY Jan 15, 3:34 p.m.

    Seriously though...the absolute fastest way.....don't send it to the governement all year to let them use FREE of charge!!! Adjust your withholding and send them a check at the end of the year.

  • justbnme Jan 15, 2:41 p.m.

    Let me try this posting again:

    You all are correct, i was just messing with you guys. i have
    sooo much money that i could never use it all. I have so much
    i fly to NY every weekend just for dinner. That's how great
    it is to be kidless and husbandless.

  • nobama Jan 15, 1:19 p.m.

    Obama's new secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner doesn't pay his taxes, why should we?

  • nobama Jan 15, 1:17 p.m.

    No and nope. The quickest way to get your own money back is to never send it to Uncle Sam to start with. Reduce the amount withheld until you are due back zero dollars at the end of the tax year. Otherwise you are giving the Federal and State government a 0% interest loan on your money. Even though I like the government I don't like them that much.

  • Igor Jan 15, 1:15 p.m.

    Single, kidless and renter...that was when I had the most money...regardless of taxes!

    If you think you can raise a kid on the benefit of an additional exemption and maybe a paltry tax credit, you are sadly mistaken...

  • bs101fly Jan 15, 1:10 p.m.

    "Why should I have to get married or have a kid to keep some of my money?"

    Welcome to America! It only gets worse!

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