Is e-filing really a better way to file your taxes?
Americans and the IRS might not agree about everything, but they are mostly on the same page when it comes to e-filing individual income tax returns.
Nearly all individual income tax returns submitted to the IRS are e-filed. E-filing is popular as it’s a win-win for taxpayers and the IRS.
If you e-file your federal income tax return, you save the IRS money because its employees do not need to spend time manually processing your return. And in return, you can get any refund you are owed faster, especially if you have it directly deposited to your bank account.
But what about safety? And can electronic filing really give you access to all of the forms you might need if you have a complex tax situation? Are there ever situations when you can not e-file? Let us look at the benefits of e-filing, and whether it may be the very best filing option for your requirements.
If you’re Considering e-filing, some of the advantages include:
- Quick affirmation your forms are received: The IRS will confirm a tax filing has been received within 24 hours of electronic submission. For paper filers, the IRS does not send any acknowledgment that your forms have arrived safely.
Timely refunds: When you publish a paper filing, it can take six to eight months to be given a tax refund. With e-filing, you are going to receive your money in three weeks or less. Choosing direct deposit may also speed up the refund process.
Reduced likelihood of mistakes: In accordance with the IRS, there is approximately a 1 percent error rate on e-filed yields, compared with a 20% rate of mistakes on paper filings. The IRS also provides more information on issues discovered on e-filed yields compared with paper returns.
Easy payment process: If you owe the IRS money, it is simpler to cover at your convenience when you e-file. It’s possible to submit returns early and pay afterwards if necessary, as long as 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, provided that 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 your checking or savings account, filing a credit card through a payment processor for a fee, or paying by check or money order. Just be aware delaying payment after the filing due date (typically April 15) can result in penalties and interest.
Digital storage of tax information: Submitting returns electronically implies there is an electronic backup of your tax records. So if something happens to your paperwork, you’ll have a digital backup.
The good news: Most taxpayers do opt to e-file and find those advantages — and the practice of doing so is simple.
You have four options for filing an electronically filed tax return to the IRS.
The types do the math for you and offer basic guidance. You can only do your federal return with all these forms.
Using online tax preparation software is far and away the favored approach of most taxpayers. Actually, the IRS says it expected more than four tax returns to be filed through tax return prep program.
Is e-filing really secure?
While e-filing is suitable, you could be worried about safety — particularly with all these data breaches. But experts agree this is not a problem which should deter you from e-filing.
“E-filing a tax return has proven to be a very secure way to file your taxes,” states Scott Grissom, vice president of product direction, advertising and sales at LegalShield. “In fact, it can be more secure than paper filing since you’re sending your private information through an encrypted system rather than exposing your data in the mail.”
Dennis Chow, vice president of data security at SCIS Security, explains that the IRS has put security measures in place to keep your information safe. “Trainers normally use IRS specific APIs that need ab sessions,” Chow says. “All of this can be routed over TLS encrypted connections.”
It’s important to employ a trusted service to assist you record your taxes. Chow advises not to e-file on a public computer or use an online connection that isn’t private.
For most taxpayers, it makes sense to e-file a return since it is the most convenient way to submit your tax information to the IRS and it allows for timely refunds and effortless payment choices. Just make sure to use tax preparation software from a trusted source, so you can ensure the information you provide to transmit to the IRS will be kept secure.