How to Ensure a Fast Tax Return

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Spring is just around the corner, and along with it, tax time comes along. The Internal Revenue Service is officially accepting 2013 tax returns, and many people hoping to get a speedy return will file right away; however, getting in a tax return in quickly is only one of several factors that will help an income tax return check get sent out faster. Here are some tips for tax filers to get their tax refund checks fast.

Don't Put It in Writing

The IRS uses electronic scanning methods when it can to check for errors and process tax forms. Even with the neatest of handwriting, hand-printed forms can be difficult for machines to interpret, so it's better to file electronically if you are preparing your own taxes. E-filing your taxes also helps eliminate common math errors which could slow down the flow of processing. Plus, electronic filing means bypassing the Post Office which will save a few days in transit, and probably a few more days of sitting in a pile with other returns.

The IRS estimates that most old-fashioned paper filers will have about a six-week wait for their checks, but if you're really old school about filing with paper forms, at least find a way to type them instead of writing them out by hand. Most tax preparation software programs which are purchased and installed on a computer will still have an option to print and file for the refund with the IRS and not just for e-filing the return. By using such a program, you can save time, and not only reduce handwriting problems, but also have all of the math calculated precisely.

Bank on It

By choosing direct deposit into your bank account and filing taxes electronically, filers can save a lot of time. Tax returns can land in your bank account in as little as eight to 10 days if you agree to do it all electronically. If you are using a tax preparation service, ask your agent about the methods they will use, and how quickly your return will be handed over to the IRS.

To Err Is Human

Double-check all of your own work for typos, and don't assume forms from employers will be error-free. Scrutinize Social Security numbers, address information and anything else that might slow down the process. Any inconsistencies will require additional checking and more time, so take the time to spot any flaws before hitting "send" this year of signing off on the work of a tax preparer.

If anything isn't right with your address when your taxes are submitted, the check could be returned to the IRS. To avoid causing additional delays, double-check the address information to be certain nothing is incorrect or missing, such as an incorrect plus-four code.

Adding Insult to Injury

If you're filing form 8379, titled Injured Spouse Relief, you will have some thumb-twiddling to do while you wait for your tax return to be processed. This form can take several months to be completed. Fortunately, this form is only necessary for filers with a spouse who owes back taxes, so it won't affect average filers.

Once filed, you can follow the progress of your tax return status with a handy mobile app for smartphones issued by the IRS. Called IRS2Go, the app features secure encryption when you enter your Social Security number and can provide a variety of information and even links to free tax preparation providers for those who qualify. There are apps available for both Android and iPhone users, both of which have been updated for 2014.

If you think your check has been lost or stolen, use the "Where's my refund?" tool on the IRS website if more than 28 days have passed since the refund was issued.

Shirley Pulawski is a freelance journalist who frequently contributes to

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