Rappahannock News

Tax refunds can provide immediate cash infusion. How to get it sooner…

- BY ANNE YEOMAN The writer, former executive director of county nonprofit FamilyFutu­res who lives in Sperryvill­e, writes about financial literacy and offers free confidenti­al financial coaching: yeomancont­ext@verizon.net.

Tax refunds average more than $3000 for most households. It is o en the biggest single lump sum a family might receive in a year.

To get that cash in your hands more quickly:

► File as soon as you have all the necessary documentat­ion: W-2, 1099 forms, evidence of expenses and deductions if you itemize. But do NOT le if you don’t have complete documentat­ion. Inconsiste­ncy with informatio­n from employers, for example, may put your return on hold or reduce your refund.

► Check your math. Errors will delay your refund or have your return rejected.

► Better yet, use free tax ling if your adjusted gross income is less than about $66,000. No worries about math or whether you are getting all the credits and refunds you are eligible for. See my previous column (rappnews.link/pvh) for trusted local and on-line sites.

► File electronic­ally if possible. Electronic ling can shorten the time to your refund from as long as eight weeks to three or less. Free tax ling sites ensure this.

► Choose to have your refund deposited directly to a bank account. This will also shorten the time to receive your refund.

► If using a paid preparer or commercial so ware:

• Don’t fall for “free ling” that is really a bait and switch, such as free federal but paid state returns. You could fall into a trap. Some are even o ering to boost your refund by entering you into a raffle!

• Do not accept an offer to borrow against your refund to cover fees. This may result in a delay and even entangle you in expensive debt.

• Do not agree to a refund anticipati­on check or refund anticipati­on loan to get your refund more quickly. Such borrowing uses your refund as collateral, carries interest and fees, and may create problems if your actual refund is less than the preparer or so ware projected.

Making the most of your refund:

► Use Form 8888 of the return to split your refund to direct deposits in as many as three di erent accounts: for example, checking, savings or a retirement account (IRA, Roth IRA, HSA).

► Use one of your split refund options to purchase a savings bond.

► Use refund dollars to pay down or pay o credit cards or debt. Reducing debt is saving.

► If you’ve already “spent” your refund by expecting to use it to cover holiday expenses, for example, decide not to do that again next year. Instead set aside small amounts regularly throughout the year for worry- free celebratio­ns. My next column will offer some easy ways to save for emergencie­s and long-and shortterm goals.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States