Tax season tips: Get your 2018 refund quicker

Tax season is in full swing and 47 million returns have already been processed, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

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Many American households rely on their annual tax refunds. More than 70 percent of Americans receive money back from the IRS during tax season. The majority of Americans plan to spend this year’s refund on debt, according to a new study.

So far this year, the average refund is $3,143 – a 1.3 percent increase when compared with the same period last year ($3,103).

But if you are one of the many Americans who has yet to file, there are a number of tips experts recommend employing to get your refund back quicker.

The most efficient method to file, according to Michael D’Addio, principal at Marcum LLP, is electronically. Paper returns require officials to input and process the documents, and therefore tend to take longer.

Filing electronically generally results in a refund being returned in about 20 to 30 days, D’Addio told FOX Business. Paper documents can take up to weeks longer.

A record-long government shutdown also impacted services at the agency, according to a report from the National Taxpayer Advocate. During the first official week of tax season – which kicked off on Jan. 28 – there was a “shocking” decline in services: Fewer than half (48 percent) of calls made by people looking for help filing returns were answered, while the average wait time was about 17 minutes. During the same period last year, 86 percent of calls were answered and the wait time was only about 4 minutes.

Unexpected problems are also prone to pop up at the agency, which has been a lightning rod for having antiquated systems. Last year, for example, the agency delayed the original April deadline by one day after a system failure crashed the site. It has also disclosed in recent years that taxpayer accounts were compromised.

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Overall, Treasury officials said they expect fewer Americans to get refunds this year when compared with last year. However, they said most Americans are still expected to see a net tax benefit as a result of the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

A spokesperson for the Treasury Department previously told FOX Business that individual taxes will be lower for “approximately 80 percent of filers” thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Meanwhile, another 15 percent of people will see no change. That leaves about 5 percent who will owe more.