BY JOAL RYAN, LILY ROSE
Preparing for tax season? The IRS is now accepting tax returns.
If you want to get your 2023 federal tax refund quickly, then the basic advice is this: Get your documents together early, file as soon as possible, file online and request your refund be sent to your bank or designated online account via direct deposit. Follow this formula, most taxpayers will receive their refunds within 21 days.
But if you want your tax refund even sooner than that, you’ll want to take advantage of the interest-free refund advances offered by TurboTax or H&R Block — they can get you your money just minutes after you file. Here’s what you need to know.
What if you want your refund sooner than soon? What if you need it now?
A tax-refund advance is a short-term loan that gets you what’s owed to you (or, at least some of the amount), sometimes as soon as the day you file. The loans are backed by your expected refund and are usually repaid by (that is, deducted from) your eventual IRS refund.
If sitting tight for up to 21 days is impossible this year, or if you’re worried about the IRS not hitting its deadline (think 2021, when millions of taxpayers saw their refunds delayed), then here’s a look at the refund-advance loans offered by some of the biggest commercial tax-prep services: Turbotax, H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt. All three are billed as no-fee, 0% APR, or annual percentage rate, loans that don’t negatively impact your credit.
TurboTax Refund Advance
In 2020, more than 195 million tax returns and other tax forms were filed electronically; 14 million of those tax returns were filed with a version of TurboTax. The tax software aims to simplify the tax filing process and find customers big tax breaks they otherwise would’t find on their own.
TurboTax offers a TurboTax Refund Advance program where you can get up to $4,000 of your tax refund within 15 minutes of your tax return being accepted by the IRS. (The amount you can get as an advance depends on the size of your anticipated refund.) Funds are deposited in a Credit Karma Money account, which you can immediately access with a Credit Karma Money virtual debit card.
Again, there are no loan fees and the interest rate is 0% APR.
The best TurboTax discounts happen early in the tax season. All versions of TurboTax software are on sale right now on the TurboTax website. But in order to get the most bang for your buck, you’ll need to choose the TurboTax software that is right for you. You start using TurboTax for free and pay once you file.
TurboTax Free Edition
This free version of TurboTax is a great option for taxpayers whose income is largely from W-2s and savings in the bank. The tax software includes a free filing of your simple federal and state tax returns. According to TurboTax, the Free Edition covers W-2 income, Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC) and child tax credits, plus your standard deductions, student loan interest deductions and limited interest and dividend reporting (1099-INT, 1099-DIV).
It’s worth noting that TurboTax Free Edition can not handle 1099-G unemployment income or itemized deductions.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently suing TurboTax parent company Intuit, claiming the software company is misleading people with its promotions over free tax filing. (Intuit, for its part, says it follows IRS rules and has called the allegations “simply not credible.”)
Users get anytime assistance from TurboTax’s online community of TurboTax specialists. Worried about something going wrong? TurboTax Free Edition includes guidance in case of an audit, backed by TurboTax’s audit support guarantee.
TurboTax Deluxe includes all the features of TurboTax Free Edition, plus a few extras. It’s a good option for homeowners. This TurboTax version offers homeowners step-by-step guidance on how to turn their home investment into a major tax break. (If you’re hoping to deduct the interest you paid on your mortgage, you’ll want to go with TurboTax Deluxe.)
TurboTax Deluxe includes a search of more than 350 tax deductions and credits to find all qualifying tax breaks. And should an unexpected form arrive late, this software lets you make changes to your 2022 tax return, online, up to three years after it’s been filed and accepted by the IRS.
TurboTax Deluxe includes one-on-one support from live TurboTax product specialists.
TurboTax Deluxe $39 (regularly $59)
TurboTax Premier has all the features of TurboTax Deluxe, but is also great for taxpayers with investment incomes, such as stock, cryptocurrency, bonds, ESPPs, robo-investing and income from rental properties. If you’ve been buying and selling on Robinhood or Coinbase — especially selling, which is a taxable event — TurboTax Premier is likely the version for you. It makes reporting these transactions easy, even there are a lot of them — the software can import thousands of transactions directly from brokers.
Similarly, if you own your house and are renting a spare room to a friend or family member, this version will help you report the income and locate common deductions that can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Like all TurboTax software, Premier aims to give customers the biggest tax break possible. TurboTax Premier searches for more than 450 tax deductions and credits to find qualifying tax breaks.
TurboTax Premier, $69 (regularly $89)
TurboTax Self-Employed includes all of the features of the other TurboTax versions as well as some important extras for taxpayers who work for themselves. If you’ve got a freelance job or Doordash delivery side hustle, for example, this is the TurboTax version for you.
Ideal for 1099-NEC incomes, this TurboTax version helps you complete all relevant self-employment tax forms and will also let you know if a Schedule SE or “Self-Employment Tax” is required by the IRS.
This version of the tax software looks through your transactions for industry-specific deductions, including real estate, ride shares, delivery driving, online retail and personal or professional services. If your business has employees, this tax software allows you to prep and print unlimited W-2 and 1099 forms.
TurboTax Self-Employed, $89 (regularly $119)
H&R Block advertises $0 fee, 0% APR loans. Its Refund Advance loans are available now through February 28 in five amounts, from $250 to $3,500. H&R Block says most loan funds are made available the same day you apply for them. But, take note: The funds are only made available to you via an H&R Block Emerald Prepaid Mastercard.
The H&R Block Refund Advance loan is open to H&R Block customers who e-file through a participating H&R Block office. Eligibility is also determined in part by how much you are expected to receive in your federal refund.
H&R Block Refund Advance, $0 fee, 0% APR
Jackson Hewitt refund advance loans
Like its top competitors, Jackson Hewitt promotes no-fee, 0% APR refund-advance loans that are repaid from your federal refund. Loan amounts are offered from $500-$3,500; loans are available through Jan. 15. The loan, called the No Fee Refund Advance, is open to customers who file their taxes through Jackson Hewitt. Like H&R Block, you have to visit a brick-and-mortar office in order to apply. (Some Jackson Hewitt locations are located within Walmart stores.)
Jackson Hewitt says those with approved loans may receive their funds, via a Serve American Express Prepaid Card, within a matter of minutes. Loan eligibility is determined by a number of criteria, including your history of IRS payments.
Jackson Hewitt No Fee Refund Advance loan, $0 fee, 0% APR
When to file and when is tax day 2023?
Tuesday, April 18, 2023, is the tax filing deadline for most Americans.
On Jan. 11, the IRS announced that California storm victims now have until May 15, 2023, to file various federal individual and business tax returns and make tax payments. The IRS is offering the extension to people in areas designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Included areas cover much of the state. Think you might qualify for an extension? Click here to see the full list.
Need more time to file? According to the IRS, you should request an extension of time to file. To receive an automatic 6-month extension of time to file your return, you must file Form 4868. An extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. You may be subject to a late payment penalty on any tax not paid by the original due date of your return.
Stay on top of your taxes with tax software such as TurboTax and H&R Block.