Is it a secret loophole? A special system only the elite know about? An insiders only nugget of financial knowledge? While we hate to disappoint, the fastest way to get your tax return is no real secret: prepare early, organize the documents you'll need ahead of time and file your taxes as early as possible.
Now, just because the answer is simple doesn't mean it's an easy task. Getting together everything you need to file your taxes and working through them quickly and efficiently is more difficult than it sounds. Don't worry though. Here's a simple guide to exactly what you'll need and the steps to take to get in order to get your tax return money as quickly as possible.
Let's start simple. What kind of documents are you going to need? Essentially you're going to need anything that has to do with money you received as income, and what you spent on deductible expenses. This includes your W-2's, student loan interest forms, mortgage tax statements, applicable receipts, social security income, alimony payments, interest from title loans, and retirement investments. These are just a few of the important documents you should have when preparing your taxes.
While many of these documents are either available online or will automatically arrive in the mail before tax season, there are some records that you may need to request. If that is the case, remember that these requests can take time to arrive, so ask for them as early as possible. Your employer should mail you your W-2 form before the end of January, but it never hurts to check on the status.
E-filing is fast and convenient and is definitely somethingyou should consider if you don't expect your taxes to be overly complicated. Turbotax and several other online tax filing services will file your basic federal and state taxes for free or for a nominal fee. These handy services will walk you step-by-step through the filing process, automatically checking for all possible deductions. The tax code is complicated and constantly changing, so an automated program is perfect for finding out which new rules and deductions apply to you.
If you expect your taxes to be more complicated than a basic 1040EZ with a standard deduction, it may be worth the investment to seek out the services of an accountant to help you file. This would apply to people who inherited money in the last year, own a small business, have business expenses to itemize, or are self-employed. If you take your time to find the right accountant, they can be surprisingly affordable, and they'll most likely cover their expense with the number of extra deductions and savings they find for you.
All these tips come down to one simple principle: be prepared, be vigilant, and be organized. There really is no substitute for those three. Many of us rely on our tax returns for paying off debts, making important purchases, or funding a family vacation. Whatever the reason, the money is yours, and who couldn't do with a little extra money?