Tax Day 2023: How to file your taxes before the April 18 deadline

By filing your taxes online you can expedite the time it takes to get your refund.

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Tax season is soon coming to an end. The Internal Revenue Service reported that it has received nearly 101.3 million tax returns — a nearly 2% decrease year-over-year — as of early April. 

So, it’s clear there are some last-minute filers looking to get their tax documents submitted quickly. You’ll want to get your paperwork submitted online or postmarked before midnight on Tuesday, April 18. To speed up the process, you may want to consider these easy ways to file online.

In fact, the majority of U.S. taxpayers now file online, utilizing programs like IRS Free File. However, many also go directly to online tax preparation sites like TurboTax, H&R Block or, which all have unique offerings and versions that make them stand out — from free self-guided options to upgrades that include live advice and reviews from tax professionals.

See which tax preparation service makes sense for your situation. Learn more.

How to file taxes before the April 18 deadline

Tax preparation can be intimidating. The average time it takes taxpayers to file a Form 1040 or 1040-SR is around 13 hours, which “includes all associated forms and schedules, across all the tax return preparation methods and taxpayer activities,” the IRS says.

If speed is a factor, then the agency recommends filing online. The process is simple: 

  • Create an account on a verified and trusted service, gather documents
  • Choose your filing status
  • Determine if you’re taking a standard deduction or itemizing and utilize direct deposit
  • Reach out to a tax expert if you have any questions along the way (after all, errors can lead to delays)

H&R Block estimates a simple tax return could take less than two hours to complete, touting its system’s ability to speed up the process by skipping unnecessary sections based on your answers to various questions.

Most online tax preparation services charge fees, depending on how complicated your tax return is and the needs you require (e.g. expert guidance). But those with simple tax returns may qualify for free options, which cover a limited number of situations like W-2 income, IRS standard deduction, limited interest and dividend income reported on a 1099-INT or 1099-DIV and a handful of others. Compare tax prep services to see which fits your needs best.

Ultimately, the time it takes to file your taxes depends on your individual circumstances — like whether you’re a business owner, you have investments or own real estate, you’re a homeowner, married and have dependents, among other personal and financial circumstances. 

“The more of these taxable situations you have in your life, the longer it might take to file your taxes,” H&R Block says.

Can I speed up my tax refund?

Filing isn’t the only part that takes time. After you submit your tax return, you have to then wait for the IRS to accept and approve your refund and then give you the money. 

Getting your tax refund faster is one of the many perks of e-filing. Those who send their returns through the mail — particularly, sending a paper Form 1040 — could end up waiting six weeks or longer for their returns to be processed, according to the IRS

Meanwhile, online filers are told to expect their refunds within 21 days or less, possibly even quicker if they do direct deposit.

“The fastest way to get your refund is by using the automation and error reduction benefits of tax software, e-filing and direct deposit. Combined, these will give you the best shot at filing your taxes fast and getting your refund sooner,” online tax preparation software TurboTax suggests. Get tips to potentially help boost your tax refund now.

FAQs on filing taxes

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