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Chain tax preparation services all boast about helping you to get your tax refund fast. Well here's a newsflash.... there's nothing special about what they're doing, and you can get a fast refund all by yourself!

The IRS offers direct deposit of your refund if you provide your checking or savings account information when filing your taxes. If you file paper forms, it will likely take three to six weeks to get your refund. If you file electronically, you can have your refund in two weeks or less. And there are plenty of online services like TurboTax to help you fill out your tax forms and file electronically.

Direct deposit through the IRS is free and it is safe. You don't risk having a check lost in the mail. So opt for direct deposit with the IRS and skip all the tax preparation services that brag about fast (but expensive) refunds.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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