Ben Stein Ferris Bueller – Is It Best To E-File My Taxes?

Is e-filing really a much better way to file your taxes? 

Americans and the IRS might not agree about everything, but they’re mostly on the exact same page when it comes to e-filing individual income tax returns.

Nearly all individual income tax returns filed to the IRS are e-filed.  E-filing is a favorite as it is a win-win for taxpayers and the IRS.

In return, you could find any refund you are owed faster, particularly if you have it directly deposited into your bank accounts.

However, what about safety?  And can electronic filing actually provide you access to all the forms you may need in case you’ve got a intricate tax situation?  Are there ever situations when you can not e-file?  Let’s look at the advantages of e-filing, and if it may be the best filing option for your needs.

If you’re Considering e-filing, some of the advantages include:

  1. Quick affirmation your forms are received: The IRS will confirm a tax filing was received within 24 hours of electronic submission.  For paper filers, the IRS does not send any acknowledgment that your forms have arrived safely. 
  2. Timely refunds: When you publish a paper filing, it may take six to eight weeks to be given a tax refund.  With e-filing, you’ll get your money in three weeks or not.  Choosing direct deposit can also speed up the refund process.

  3. Reduced likelihood of errors: According to the IRS, there is around a 1% error rate on e-filed yields, compared with a 20% speed of mistakes on paper filings.  The IRS also provides more information on problems discovered on e-filed yields compared with paper returns.

  4. Easy payment procedure: If you owe the IRS money, it’s simpler to cover at your advantage when you e-file.  It’s possible to submit returns early and pay later if necessary, provided that you pay by the April 15 filing deadline.  And you can schedule electronic money transfers to easily send the IRS what you owe on a date of your choosing — again, as long as the IRS receives your payment by Tax Day. You also have the option to pay your balance by using the IRS Direct pay service from the checking or savings accounts, submitting a credit card through a payment processor for a commission, or paying by check or money order. 

  5. Digital storage of taxation data: Submitting returns electronically implies there is a digital backup of your tax records.  So if something happens to your paperwork, then you will have an electronic backup.

The good news: Most taxpayers do decide to e-file and get those advantages — and the process of doing so is easy.

How to e-file a tax return?

You have four options for filing an electronically filed tax return to the IRS.

The forms do the math for you and provide basic guidance.  You can only do your federal return with these kinds. 

  • Utilize an online tax preparation tax or service software: Tax prep software and online filing services are options.  These options are an easy way to complete and e-file your forms.  Some software providers charge for their apps, Some are free.   The program asks you simple questions about your life and financing to steer you through the completion of your forms.  
  • Get free, in-person tax aid: In most states, you can find volunteers to help prepare and e-file returns.  However, eligibility for free aid is typically limited based on earnings, and some services appeal to particular demographic groups.  For instance, Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs focus primarily on assisting filers that are 60 and older. 
  • Hire a paid preparer: Paid tax preparers, including CPAs, can e-file returns for you if they are licensed IRS e-file providers. The IRS maintains a database of authorized providers, but be aware this option is likely to be the most costly one. 

    Using online tax preparation software is far and away the favored approach of the majority of taxpayers.  In fact, the IRS says it anticipated more than four tax returns to be filed through tax return prep software.

    Is e-filing really secure?

    While e-filing is convenient, you could be worried about security — especially with all these data breaches.  But experts agree that this is not a problem which should deter you from e-filing.

    “In fact, it may be more secure than paper filing as you’re sending your private information through an encrypted network as opposed to exposing your data in the mail.”

    Dennis Chow, vice president of information security at SCIS Security, clarifies that the IRS has put safety measures in place to keep your data safe.  “Vendors typically utilize IRS particular APIs that need ab sessions,” Chow says.  “All this is routed over TLS encrypted links .”

    It is important to use a trusted service to help you record your taxes.  Chow advises not to e-file on a public computer or use an internet connection that isn’t private.

    Bottom line

    For many taxpayers, it makes sense to e-file a return since it’s the most convenient way to submit your tax information to the IRS and it allows for timely refunds and effortless payment choices.  Just make certain that you use tax preparation software from a trusted source, so you may ensure the information which you provide to transmit to the IRS will be kept secure.