Buffett Warren – Should I E-file My Taxes Online

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

Americans and the IRS may not agree about everything, but they’re largely on precisely the same page in regards to e-filing individual income tax returns.

Nearly all individual income tax returns filed to the IRS are e-filed. 

In return, you can get any refund you are owed faster, particularly in the event that you have it directly deposited into your bank accounts.

But what about security?  And can electronic filing really give you access to all the forms that you may need in case you have a complex tax situation?  Are there situations when you can’t e-file?  Let us look at the advantages of e-filing, and whether it might be the best filing choice for your needs.

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

  1. Quick affirmation your forms have been received: The IRS will affirm a tax filing has been received within 24 hours of digital submission.  For paper filers, the IRS does not send any acknowledgment your forms have arrived safely. 

    Timely refunds: When you publish a paper filing, it may take six to eight months to be given a tax refund.  With e-filing, you’ll get your money in 3 weeks or less.  Choosing direct deposit can also speed up the refund procedure.

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

  3. Simple payment process: If you owe the IRS money, it’s easier to pay at your convenience when you e-file.  It’s possible to submit returns early and pay later if needed, as long as you pay from the April 15 filing deadline.  Additionally you have the option to pay your balance by making use of the IRS Immediate pay service from the checking or savings account, filing a credit card through a payment processor for a commission, or paying by check or money order.  Just be aware delaying payment following the filing due date (typically April 15) will lead to penalties and interest.

  4. Digital storage of taxation data: Submitting returns electronically implies there’s an electronic copy of your tax documents.  If something happens to your paperwork, you will have a digital backup.

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

You have four choices for submitting an electronically filed tax return to the IRS.

    1. Utilize IRS Free File: If your adjusted gross income is $72,000 or less you could be able to use the IRS Free File program.  The forms do the math for you and provide standard guidance.  You can simply do your federal return with these forms. 
    2. Utilize an online tax preparation tax or service software: Tax prep software and online filing services are alternatives.  These choices are a simple way to finish and e-file your own forms.  Some software providers charge for their apps, Some are free.   The program asks you simple questions about your own life and financing to guide you through the completion of your types.  
    3. Get complimentary, in-person tax help: In most states, you can find volunteers to help prepare and e-file returns.  However, eligibility for free aid is typically limited based on income, and a few providers cater to specific demographic groups.  For example, Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs focus primarily on assisting filers who are 60 and older. 
    4. Hire a paid preparer: Paid tax preparers, such as CPAs, can e-file returns for you if they’re licensed IRS e-file providers. The IRS maintains a record of licensed providers, but you should be aware this alternative is likely to be the most costly one. 

Using online tax preparation software is far and away the favored approach of most taxpayers.  Actually, the IRS says it expected over four in five tax returns to be filed through tax return prep program.

Is e-filing really secure?

While e-filing is convenient, you could be worried about safety — particularly with all these data breaches.  But experts agree that this isn’t an issue which should deter you by e-filing.

“E-filing a tax return has proven to be an extremely secure way to file your taxes,” says Scott Grissom, vice president of product direction, advertising and revenue at LegalShield. “In actuality, it can be more secure than paper filing as you’re sending your personal information through an encrypted network as opposed to exposing your data in the email.”

Dennis Chow, vice president of data security at SCIS Security, explains that the IRS has put security measures in place to keep your data secure.  “Trainers normally use IRS particular APIs that need ab sessions,” Chow says.  “All of this is routed over TLS encrypted connections”

It is very 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 online connection that is not private.

Bottom line

For many taxpayers, it is sensible to e-file a return because it is the most convenient way to file your tax information to the IRS and it allows for timely refunds and effortless payment choices.  Just make certain to use tax planning software from a trusted source, so that you may ensure the information which you supply to transmit to the IRS is going to be kept protected.