The IRS will accept both electronic and paper returns on January 29, but according to IRS Bulletin IR-2018-1, “paper returns will begin processing later in mid-February as system updates continue.” To receive refunds earlier, the IRS suggests using electronic filing methods. The agency expects over 80% of tax returns to be filed electronically and has prepared accordingly.

Once tax season begins, IRS Free File will be available to help you prepare your electronic file for free if you meet certain criteria. The IRS estimates that 70% of taxpayers are eligible to take advantage of the Free File system. Online fillable forms are also available at the IRS website for those who are comfortable doing their own taxes electronically.

By filing early, you will not only get your refund faster, you will also beat potential identity thieves to the punch. Should an identity thief file a false claim in your name before you do, you won’t realize it until your form is rejected.

However, not all early filers will receive early refunds. By law, filers who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) cannot be made available until Feb 27, 2018. This was recently instituted as a fraud prevention measure.

The best way to check the status of your refund is to use the straightforwardly named “Where’s My Refund” site or the IRS2Go app for mobile users. The site is updated daily. To get information on your return, you must wait for at least 24 hours after an electronic filing or four weeks after mailing a paper return.


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