Five easy ways to get an early tax refund

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I am discussing here five easy tricks to get a quick refund.

1. Collect all the details

You should get your papers in hand by the end of January 2008. These include your W-2s and statements from your broker, from your bank. You should look for Forms 1099 for any interest or dividend that you have received and for any sale of stock.

You should also look for Form 1098 which will be issued by your mortgage company for any interest and real estate tax payments. Please check the figures. They may not be correct always.

2. Put the numbers against appropriate categories

You need to do this to get final numbers. IRS or your CPA cannot do it for you. If you give your CPA all this instantly, it will minimize your bill. To do this easily, get all receipts (including checks) stored in a file or box during the year. Then after December, make separate envelopes for each category – like charitable contributions, medical expenses etc. Put all your receipts and vouchers in appropriate envelopes. If you are staying in a state having no income tax (Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming), then look for the figures for a deduction of sales taxes.

So you have envelopes ready by end of January. You can just add the receipts and checks and arrive at the number which you should use on your tax return.

If you follow this system, you will never fear about tax audit. In audit, IRS will ask you to prove the figures which you have entered on your return. And you have done just that in advance!

3. Check the numbers

It is possible that you make some mistakes in arriving at the numbers. For example, on the income side, you need to ensure that all the interest and dividend is reported, even though you may not have Form 1099 for some of them. Also, you need to check the statement given by your broker for sale with the actual cost of the stock. Remember, you are not taxed on sale, but on profit. So you need to determine the cost, including the fees of the broker. And if you have not sold the entire stock, then you have to allocate the cost on per-share basis.

Same principle applies for the deductions. Check your online payments with the statement by the mortgage company. Your cancelled checks also should be seen once to ensure that all the expenses are counted.

4. Fix appointment with your accountant well in advance

Once you take an appointment, you make a commitment to prepare before that date. Then prepare the details of each category and keep them ready to show up.

5. Mail your return

A completed return with a refund due is a heavenly idea. Its your money. Don’t delay. Just mail it across. The best is e-filing, which IRS also likes. You just pay a small fee to your transmitter to convert it into IRS code and then click to send it.

Whether e-filing or mailing, give the option of direct deposit. Its much faster. Theoretically you should see the refund within 24 hours in your bank. You can check the website “Where’s my refund†and that will tell you whether your refund is processed.

Just follow these simple tips and whew! You can see your refund check in record time.

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