PhotoThe refund check is no longer in the mail -- it’s already in the bank. That's the way it is for some 57 million taxpayers so far this year.

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), more than $170 billion in income tax refunds have bee, deposited directly into taxpayers' bank accounts as a growing number of people choose speed and convenience over receiving a paper check. So far this year, almost 85% of all refunds have been directly deposited.

And it doesn't matter if you e-file or snail-mail a paper tax return. If you choose the latter, just make sure you include your account information.

Take your pick

Direct deposit is not limited to banks. Mutual funds, brokerage firms and credit unions are all eligible to receive direct deposits. Before making this choice, however, taxpayers should make sure the financial institution accepts direct deposits for the type of account chosen.

Taxpayers also have ability to split refund deposits among two or three different accounts or financial institutions. For instance, a refund could be split among a savings account, a checking account and an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA). Refunds may be split when a taxpayer e-files or by filing Form 8888, Direct Deposit of Refund to More Than One Account.

A refund should be deposited directly only into accounts that are in the taxpayer's own name, the taxpayer's spouse's name or both if it's a joint account.

Those who choose direct deposit get their refunds at least a week sooner, and direct deposit eliminates the chance of a lost, stolen or undeliverable refund.

The tax season to date

Here are the latest 2014 filing season statistics:

Cumulative statistics comparing 3/22/13 and 3/21/14

Individual Income Tax Returns:

2013

2014

% Change

Total Receipts

82,413,000

82,852,000

0.5

Total Processed

77,102,000

81,149,000

5.2

 

 

 

 

E-filing Receipts:

 

 

 

TOTAL          

74,420,000

75,610,000

1.6

Tax Professionals

44,524,000

43,953,000

-1.3

Self-prepared

29,896,000

31,657,000

5.9

 

 

 

 

Web Usage:

 

 

 

Visits to IRS.gov

234,237,695

209,074,699

-10.7

 

 

 

 

Total Refunds:

 

 

 

Number

66,429,000

67,383,000

1.4

Amount

$187.788

Billion

$193.543

Billion

3.1

Average refund

$2,827

$2,872

1.6

 

 

 

 

Direct Deposit Refunds:

 

 

 

Number

56,985,000

57,101,000

0.2

Amount

$170.127

Billion

$170.187

Billion

0.04

Average refund

$2,985

$2,980

-0.2


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