Individuals everywhere are currently preparing their income tax returns. If you are reading this, chances are, you are either preparing to prepare or you are in the midst of preparations. It is imperative that you know how to manage your tax refund. Once you have established that you have a refund coming your way, it is important that you give consideration as to how to make the most of the money that you will receive. Continue reading to learn more.

File Taxes on tax day

What is the Fastest Way to Receive My Refund?

If you want to get the funds from your tax refund quickly, the fastest method is to have the money electronically deposited directly into your bank account.

This is possible through the Direct Deposit Program offered by the Internal Revenue Service. One of the best perks about this program is that it is 100% FREE!

In addition to Direct Depost being the most secure method of receiving your money, it may also be deposited into up to three different accounts! For example, if you have a checking account, a savings account, and an emergency account, you may have a little money deposited in each!

If you do not have a bank account, be sure to obtain one prior to filing your taxes!

Is a Paper Check Safe?

In most instances, it is safe to receive a paper check with your tax refund. Prior to the Direct Deposit Program becoming available, this is how everyone received their refund.

Unfortunately, you must be aware of the fact that checks take the longest to receive.

Additionally, there is a high risk for a paper check to become lost, damaged, stolen, and returned to the Internal Revenue Service. It is MUCH safer, easier, and faster to have your tax refund direct deposited.

Are Prepaid Cards Available for Tax Refunds?

Yes, prepaid cards are available for consumers who are expecting a tax refund.

Read the small print and understand the terms and conditions associated with the prepaid card you choose.

You must know how to have money deposited on it and what fees you will be charged. Some cards will charge a special fee for tax refunds from the government.

You must create a PIN for the prepaid card. Special care should be taken to protect the card as it could be lost or stolen.

If stolen and unauthorized charges are incurred, you may be held responsible. It is best to choose a bank account and have the refund safely deposited into that account.

Is it Possible to Track My Tax Refund Status?

Yes, you may track the status of your tax refund from the Internal Revenue Service. Simply go to IRS Tools on the IRS website and fill out the information.

There is even an app for your mobile device. This is called “IRS2GO”. This will allow you to also track your refund in real-time.

If you have a computer, you may access and utilize the “Where’s My Refund?” tool under Refunds and Payments on the website.

Be sure you only access this on the actual website of the IRS as it includes sensitive questions pertaining to your tax refund from the IRS.

How Do I Protect Myself from Tax Scams?

Regardless of how you handle your tax refund, it is critical that you ensure complete protection. If sensitive information – such as your name, your birthday, your Social Security number, and your address gets into the wrong hands, it could be used by scammers to take out a loan, a credit card, and/or to file a tax return under your name that is fraudulent.

In turn, THAT individual may be able to claim any tax refund that you have coming your way.

What Should I Do if I Think My Information Was Stolen?

If you feel that your information regarding your tax information has been stolen, you must contact the Internal Revenue Service immediately. You may call 800-908-4490.

You may also visit the IRS website and search for “Identity Protection”. There is a direct page you may visit. It is the Identity Theft Central page. This page provides resources for those who have had their personal information stolen by a scammer with the purpose and intent of committing tax fraud.

What Happens if an IRS Agent Contacts Me?

First, it is rare that an IRS agent will call you. It has been known to happen.

If you get a call from a supposed agent, do not talk to them unless you call 800-829-1040 first to confirm a contact was initiated. In most instances, the IRS will correspond through mail that is delivered through the United States Postal Service.

By calling the IRS directly, you can have it confirmed as to whether or not the contact was a legitimate one.

What if the IRS Agent Who Contacted Me was a Fake?

If the IRS agent that contacted you was a fraud, you must report it. The report must be presented to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. You may reach this special department of the Internal Revenue Service by calling 800-366-4484.

If you receive any emails that are unsolicited by a supposed IRS agent, you may forward them to the phishing department. Their email is: .

tax preparation

Who Do I Get to File My Taxes?

Most individuals that specialize in tax preparation are professionals.

You should avoid those that indulge in heavy marketing, promise high refunds, or claim to know little-known “secrets” to getting a higher refund. You should also avoid preparers that claim to offer in-home tax preparation.

To verify that you are dealing with a legitimate tax preparer that will NOT steal your information, you must check their PTIN. This is a preparer identifier used by the IRS that all preparation professionals must have.

Additionally, you may ask the preparer to provide you with references of those that they have serviced in the past.

What Should I Do with My Tax Refund?

People handle their tax refunds in different ways. You may contribute to an emergency fund, place it in a savings account that allows you to get a return on the balance, and/or reduce or eliminate any type of outstanding debts that you have – such as a loan, credit cards, credit accounts, or even pay off your home or your car! The choice is yours.

Depending on your tax bracket, your refund could be potentially large. Many people may choose to pay their rent or mortgage for the year or pursue some other expense. Regardless, it is important that you spend the money wisely – if you even spend it at all.

Opening a Bank Account

If you do not have a bank account, it is advised that you open one up as soon as possible. This is the safest and easiest method of handling your tax refund money.

It is also the best strategy for handling your finances throughout the year. We here at Somerville Bank are dedicated to serving you! We can assist in opening a checking account, a savings account, and help with online and mobile banking. We are insured by the FDIC. That means when you bank with us, your money is protected!

If you would like to learn more about our banking options, inquire about protecting your tax refund, or simply want to learn more about how to manage your tax refund, contact us today! You may call or visit one of our many locations. We are standing by to assist you! Click the following link to obtain information about our locations and contact numbers: