Is e-filing really a better way to file your taxes?
Americans and the IRS may not agree on everything, but they’re largely on the exact same page in regards to e-filing individual income tax returns.
Nearly all individual income tax returns submitted to the IRS are e-filed.
And in return, you could get any refund you’re owed quicker, particularly if you have it directly deposited to your bank account.
However, what about security? And can digital filing really provide you access to all the forms you may need if you have a complex tax situation? Are there situations when you can not e-file? Let’s look at the benefits of e-filing, and whether it might be the best filing choice for your requirements.
If you’re thinking about e-filing, some of the advantages include:
- Quick confirmation your forms have been received: The IRS will affirm a tax filing was received within one day of electronic submission. For paper filers, the IRS doesn’t send any acknowledgment your forms have arrived .
Timely refunds: When you publish a paper filing, it can take six to eight weeks to be given a tax refund. With e-filing, you are going to get your money in three weeks or not. Choosing direct deposit can also speed up the refund procedure.
Reduced chance of errors: According to the IRS, there is around 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 issues discovered on e-filed returns compared with paper returns.
Easy payment process: If you owe the IRS money, it is simpler to pay at your advantage 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. 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 commission, or paying by check or money order. Just be aware delaying payment following the filing due date (typically April 15) will result in penalties and interest.
Digital storage of tax information: Submitting returns electronically implies there is an electronic backup of your tax records. If something happens to your paperwork, you will have a digital backup.
The fantastic news: Most taxpayers do opt to e-file and get those advantages — and the practice of doing this is simple.
- Use IRS Free File: If your adjusted gross income is $72,000 or less you may be able to use the IRS Free File program.
- Free File Fillable Types — If your income is more than $72,000 and you are comfortable doing your earnings without help, you can use Free File Fillable Forms from the IRS. The forms do the math for you and provide basic guidance. You can simply do your federal return with these kinds.
- Utilize an online tax preparation service or tax software: Tax preparation software and online filing services are options. These options are a simple way to complete and e-file your own forms. Some applications providers charge for their programs, Some are liberated. The software asks you simple questions about your life and finances to guide 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. But eligibility for free aid is typically limited based on income, and some providers cater to particular demographic groups.
- 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 record of authorized providers, but you should be aware this option is very 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 expected more than four in five tax returns to be filed through tax return prep software.
Is e-filing really secure?
While e-filing is convenient, you could worry about security — particularly with so many data breaches. But experts agree this isn’t a problem which should deter you by e-filing.
“E-filing a tax return has proven to be an extremely secure way to file your taxes,” states Scott Grissom, vice president of product leadership, advertising and revenue at LegalShield. “In actuality, it can be more secure than paper filing since you’re sending your personal information through an encrypted system as opposed to exposing your information in the email.”
Dennis Chow, vice president of information security at SCIS Security, explains the IRS has set safety measures in place to keep your information safe. “Trainers normally use IRS specific APIs that need ab sessions,” Chow says. “All of this is routed over TLS encrypted links .”
It’s very important to use a trusted service to help you record your taxes. Chow advises to not e-file on a public computer or use an internet connection that is not confidential.
For many taxpayers, it makes sense to e-file a yield because it’s the most convenient way to submit your tax information to the IRS and it allows for timely refunds and easy payment choices. Just be sure that you use tax preparation software from a trusted source, so you may ensure the information which you supply to transmit to the IRS will be kept secure.