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IRS says to do this one thing to get the biggest possible tax refund

Published Apr 24th, 2021 1:35PM EDT
IRS refund
Image: Pamela Au/Adobe

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In a normal year, one in which the country wasn’t dealing with the catastrophic public health and financial impacts of a global pandemic, tax season would already be winding down. We’re now a week past the normal April 15 federal tax filing deadline, which this year has been extended until May 17.

This means there’s a pretty good chance that some of you still haven’t finished your federal tax return as part of the extended filing season this year — and if that does include you, you’re going to want to check out some of the tips below that come straight from the IRS, which has just revealed some of the things you can do to make sure to get any refund that you’re owed in a timely manner.

The main things that delay taxpayers from getting refunds are the kinds of typos and other simple mistakes on the form that you can probably imagine are pretty commonplace. Let’s run through a few that the IRS has just reminded everyone to watch out for, starting with how you file.

  • File electronically

“Filing electronically, whether through IRS Free File or other e-file service providers, is a great way to cut the chances for many tax return mistakes and maximize deductions to reduce tax owed at the same time,” the IRS explains in its announcement. “The tax software automatically applies the latest tax laws, checks for available credits or deductions, does the calculations, and asks taxpayers for all required information.” Indeed, this is probably the best move you can make if you’re looking to cut down on the chance for errors and to maximize how quickly you get a refund back to you.

  • Double-check the details

These should go without saying, but according to the IRS you’d be surprised how many people mess this next part up and thus hurt their chances for a quick, full refund. Gather all your income documents before prepping your tax return, and make sure you report all the income you made over the past year. Also, per the IRS: “Enter each Social Security number (SSN) and individual’s name on a tax return exactly as printed on the Social Security card. Persons generally must list on their individual income tax return the SSN of any person they claim as a dependent. If a dependent or spouse does not have and is not eligible to get a SSN, list the Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) instead of a SSN.”

A couple of other important points: Don’t forget to sign and date your return. And there’s also a virtual currency question that you’ll need to answer this year, for those of you who have gotten deep into crypto, Bitcoin, and the like.

According to the IRS: “The 2020 Form 1040 asks whether at any time during 2020, a person received, sold, sent, exchanged or otherwise acquired any financial interest in any virtual currency. If a taxpayer’s only transactions involving virtual currency during 2020 were purchases of virtual currency, they are not required to answer ‘yes’ to the question.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.