Is e-filing really a much better way to record your taxes?
Americans and the IRS might not agree on everything, but they are largely on the exact same page in regards to e-filing individual income tax returns.
The majority of individual income tax returns submitted to the IRS are e-filed.
And in return, you can get any refund you’re owed faster, especially if you have it directly deposited to your bank accounts.
But what about safety? And can electronic filing really give you access to all of the forms that you may need if you’ve got a complex tax situation? Are there situations when you can not e-file? Let us look at the benefits of e-filing, and whether it might be the very best filing option for your requirements.
If you are thinking about e-filing, a Few of the advantages include:
- Quick confirmation your forms have been received: The IRS will confirm a tax filing was received within 24 hours of digital submission. For paper filers, the IRS doesn’t send any acknowledgment your forms have arrived safely.
Timely refunds: When you publish a paper filing, it may take six to eight months to receive a tax refund. With e-filing, you’ll receive your money in three weeks or less. Choosing direct deposit may also accelerate the refund process.
Reduced likelihood of errors: In accordance with 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 info on issues discovered on e-filed yields compared with paper returns.
Simple payment process: If you owe the IRS money, it’s easier to cover at your convenience if you e-file. You can submit returns early and pay later if needed, provided that you pay by the April 15 filing deadline. And you’re able to 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 choice to pay your balance by using the IRS Direct pay service from the checking account 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 data: Submitting returns electronically means there is a digital copy of your tax records. If something happens to your paperwork, you will have an electronic backup.
The fantastic news: Most taxpayers do decide to e-file and get those benefits — and the process of doing this is simple.
You have four options for filing an electronically filed tax return to the IRS.
- Use IRS Free File: If your adjusted gross income is $72,000 or less 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 assistance, you can use Free File Fillable Forms from the IRS. The forms do the math for you and provide basic advice. You can only do your federal return with these forms.
- Use an online tax preparation tax or service software: Tax prep software and online filing services are alternatives. These options are an easy way to complete and e-file your own forms. Some software providers charge for their programs, Some are liberated. The program asks you simple questions about your own life and finances to steer you through the completion of your forms.
- Get free, in-person tax help: In most states, you will find volunteers to help prepare and e-file returns. However, eligibility for free aid is typically limited based on earnings, and some providers cater to particular demographic groups. For example, Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs focus primarily on assisting filers that are 60 and older.
- Hire a paid preparer: Paid tax preparers, such as CPAs, can e-file returns for you if they are licensed IRS e-file providers. The IRS maintains a database of authorized providers, but you should be aware this alternative is likely to be the most costly one.
Using online tax prep software is far and away the preferred approach of the majority of taxpayers. In fact, the IRS says it anticipated more than four tax returns to be submitted 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 that this is not a problem that should deter you by e-filing.
“E-filing a tax return has turned out to be a very secure way to file your taxes,” states Scott Grissom, vice president of product leadership, marketing and revenue at LegalShield. “In fact, it can be more secure than paper filing as you’re sending your private information through an encrypted system as opposed to exposing your data in the email.”
Dennis Chow, vice president of data security at SCIS Security, clarifies that the IRS has put safety measures in place to keep your data safe. “Vendors typically utilize IRS specific APIs that need token sessions,” Chow says. “All of this can be routed over TLS encrypted connections.”
It’s very important to use a trusted service to help you file your taxes. Chow advises to not e-file on a public computer or use an internet connection that is not confidential.
For most taxpayers, it makes sense to e-file a return because it’s the most convenient way to submit your tax information to the IRS and it allows for timely refunds and easy payment options. Just be sure that you use tax preparation software from a dependable source, so you can make certain the information you provide to transmit to the IRS is going to be kept protected.