Is e-filing really a much better way to file your taxes?
Americans and the IRS might not agree about everything, but they are largely on the 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.
And in return, you can find any refund you are owed quicker, especially if you have it directly deposited into your bank accounts.
However, what about security? And can electronic filing really provide you access to all of the forms you might need if you have a complex tax situation? Are there situations when you can not e-file? Let us look at the advantages of e-filing, and if it may be the best filing option for your needs.
If you are thinking about e-filing, some of the advantages include:
- Quick confirmation your forms have been 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 your forms have arrived safely.
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 receive your money in three weeks or not. Choosing direct deposit can also speed up the refund process.
Reduced likelihood of mistakes: In accordance with the IRS, there is approximately a 1% error rate on e-filed returns, compared with a 20% rate of errors on paper filings. The IRS also provides more information on problems discovered on e-filed returns compared with paper returns.
Easy payment procedure: If you owe the IRS money, it is easier to pay at your convenience when you e-file. You can submit returns early and pay afterwards if needed, provided that you pay from the April 15 filing deadline. And you can schedule electronic funds 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 the checking or savings account, filing a credit card through a payment processor for a commission, or paying by check or money order.
Digital storage of tax information: Submitting returns electronically means there is a digital backup of your tax records. If something happens to your paperwork, then you will have an electronic backup.
The good news: Most taxpayers do decide to e-file and find those advantages — and the process of doing so is simple.
- Use IRS Free File: If your adjusted gross income is $72,000 or not as you could be able to use the IRS Free File program.
- Free File Fillable Forms — If your income is more than $72,000 and you are comfortable doing your earnings without any assistance, you can use Free File Fillable Forms from the IRS. The types do the math for you and offer basic advice. You can only do your federal return with all these forms.
- Use an online tax preparation service or tax applications: Tax preparation software and online filing services are options. These options are a simple way to finish and e-file your forms. Some applications providers charge for their programs, Some are liberated. The program asks you simple questions about your own life and finances to guide you through the completion of your forms.
- Get complimentary, in-person tax aid: In most states, you will find volunteers to help prepare and e-file yields. However, eligibility for free aid is normally restricted based on income, and some services appeal to particular demographic groups. The IRS maintains a record of licensed providers, but be aware this option is very likely to be the most costly one.
Using online tax prep software is far and away the favored approach of the majority of taxpayers. In fact, the IRS says it expected over four tax returns to be submitted through tax return prep program.
Is e-filing really secure?
While e-filing is suitable, you may worry about security — particularly with so many data breaches. But experts agree this is not 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, marketing and sales at LegalShield. “In fact, it can be more secure than paper filing since you’re sending your personal information through an encrypted network as opposed to exposing your data in the mail.”
Dennis Chow, vice president of information security at SCIS Security, explains that the IRS has put safety measures in place to keep your information secure. “Vendors typically utilize IRS particular APIs that require token sessions,” Chow says. “All of this can be routed over TLS encrypted links “
It’s very important to use a trusted service to help you file your taxes. Chow advises to not e-file on a computer or use an online connection that isn’t private.
For many taxpayers, it makes sense to e-file a return because it’s the most convenient way to file your tax information to the IRS and it allows for timely refunds and easy payment options. Just make certain to use tax preparation software from a trusted source, so you may make certain the information you provide to transmit to the IRS will be kept protected.