Is e-filing a much better way to file your taxes?
Americans and the IRS might not agree on 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 submitted to the IRS are e-filed. E-filing is a favorite as it’s a win-win for taxpayers and the IRS.
And in return, you can find any refund you are owed quicker, especially if you have it directly deposited to your bank accounts.
However, what about security? And can digital filing actually give you access to all the forms that you may need if you have a complex tax situation? Are there ever situations when you can not e-file? Let’s look at the advantages of e-filing, and whether it may be the best filing option for your requirements.
If you are thinking about e-filing, some of the advantages include:
- Quick affirmation your forms have been obtained: The IRS will confirm a tax filing has been received within 24 hours of electronic submission. For paper filers, the IRS doesn’t send any acknowledgment that your forms have arrived .
Timely refunds: When you submit 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 less. Choosing direct deposit can also speed up the refund process.
Reduced likelihood of mistakes: According to the IRS, there’s around a 1 percent error rate on e-filed yields, compared with a 20% rate of mistakes on paper filings. The IRS also provides more info on problems discovered on e-filed returns compared with paper yields.
Easy payment process: If you owe the IRS money, it is easier to pay at your advantage when you e-file. It’s possible to submit returns early and pay later if necessary, as long as you pay from the April 15 filing deadline. And you’re able to 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. Additionally you 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.
Digital storage of tax data: Submitting returns electronically implies there is an electronic backup of your tax documents. So if something happens to your paperwork, then you’ll have a digital backup.
The good 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 not as you may be able to use the IRS Free File program.
- Free File Fillable Forms — If your income is more than $72,000 and you’re comfortable doing your taxes without any assistance, you can use Free File Fillable Forms from the IRS. The types 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 applications: Tax preparation software and online filing services are options. These options are an easy way to finish and e-file your forms. Some software providers charge for their apps, Some are free. 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 aid: In most states, you will find volunteers to help prepare and e-file returns. However, eligibility for free aid is normally restricted based on income, and some services cater to specific demographic groups. For example, Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs focus primarily on assisting filers who are 60 and older.
- 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 database of authorized providers, but you should be aware this option is very likely to be the most costly one.
Employing online tax preparation software is far and away the preferred approach of most taxpayers. Actually, the IRS says it anticipated over four in five tax returns to be filed through tax return prep software.
Is e-filing really stable?
While e-filing is suitable, you may worry about security — especially with all these data breaches. But experts agree that this is not an issue that should dissuade you from e-filing.
“In actuality, it may be more secure than paper filing since you’re sending your private information through an encrypted system rather than exposing your information in the email.”
Dennis Chow, vice president of information security at SCIS Security, explains that the IRS has set security measures in place to keep your information secure. “Trainers normally use IRS specific APIs that need ab sessions,” Chow says. “All this can be routed over TLS encrypted connections”
It’s important to use a trusted service that will help you file your taxes. Chow advises to not e-file on a computer or utilize an internet connection that is not confidential.
For most taxpayers, it is sensible to e-file a yield 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 be certain to use tax preparation software from a dependable source, so you can ensure the information which you provide to transmit to the IRS will be kept protected.