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Ask Kim

How to Get Your Tax Refund Sooner

If you e-file and have your refund deposited directly into your bank account, the money is likely to show up within three weeks.

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QHow soon can I file my taxes, and how long will it take to get my refund?

AThe IRS started accepting 2016 tax returns on January 24. You can file your return as soon as you receive your W-2s, 1099s and other documents needed for filing, which usually must be sent to you by January 31. The IRS expects to issue about 90% of refunds in less than 21 days. The fastest way to get your money is to e-file and have the money deposited directly into your bank account. The average refund last year was $2,860.

SEE ALSO: 7 Ways to File Your Taxes Free

If you claim the Earned Income Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit, you will not receive your refund until late February because a new law requires the IRS to hold the refunds on returns claiming those credits until February 15. Because of holidays, weekends and bank processing time, the IRS expects it to take until the week of February 27 for many people receiving those credits to have access to their refunds (and longer if they didn’t specify direct deposit).

You can use the IRS’s Where’s My Refund? tool to check on the status of your refund. You’ll need your Social Security number, filing status and exact refund amount. You can generally check on the status of your refund within 24 hours after the IRS receives your e-filed return, or four weeks after mailing your paper return.

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You have until April 18, 2017, to file your return because April 15 falls on a Saturday and Monday, April 17, is a District of Columbia holiday (Emancipation Day). But don’t delay. E-filing early not only helps you receive your refund faster; it also protects you from ID thieves, who could try to grab your refund first. See How to Beat The Crooks to Your Tax Refund

SEE ALSO: 7 Tax Forms That Can Accidentally Increase Your Tax Bill

If you’re due a big refund, consider changing your tax withholding so you can get more money in each paycheck starting right away instead of having to wait for your refund next year. See our Easy-to-Use Tax Withholding Calculator for more information.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.