E-file: Income Tax Return Electronic Filing
Updated for Tax Year 2017
Forget that paper tax return! Electronic filing (efiling), online tax preparation and online payment of taxes are getting more popular every year. If you ve wondered about efiling, here are the answers to frequently asked questions, including why efiling is a good idea, which states let you efile, how much efiling costs, and how soon you ll receive your refund.
Here are some reasons why electronic filing makes sense for most taxpayers:
- Fewer mistakes Using tax software such as TurboTax substantially reduces errors. According to the IRS, 20 percent of income tax returns prepared on paper have mistakes, such as missing information or taxes calculated using the wrong tax tables; half of those errors cause folks to overpay their taxes. But only about 1 percent of returns prepared electronically contain errors. If there is a mistake on your return, the IRS can detect it and send back an error report in as few as 48 hours so that you can quickly fix the problem.
- Speedier preparation You can get the job done a lot faster if you tackle it with your computer. Filing from your computer saves you the trip to the post office, too.
- Faster refunds If you send in your return by mail, you can expect to wait up to six weeks for your refund. Efiling your return and electing to have your refund deposited directly into your bank account is the fastest way to get your tax refund. If, however, you still prefer to send the IRS a paper return, TurboTax gives you that option.
How will I know that the IRS has received my tax return?
Ever worry that your return might get lost in the mail? Efiling lets you rest easy. When you send a return by mail, you have no way of knowing if the IRS received your return unless you pay extra for certified mail with a return receipt. It could take weeks for you to get that receipt.
But if you file electronically, the IRS notifies you by email within 48 hours that it has received your return. And if the IRS detects any errors, it will send an error code that TurboTax will translate into a text message telling you what the problem is, how to fix it, and how to retransmit your return.
Can I avoid having to file anything on paper?
You can save more trees than ever using efile. You can now file a completely paperless return, right down to your signature. You can use a self-selected Personal Identification Number (PIN) just as you would at a bank ATM. The PIN is your electronic signature.
Can I efile my state tax return, too?
The following 37 states and the District of Columbia allow you to e-file your state return at the same time you file your federal tax return online from your personal computer. This is called the Federal/State E-file for Taxpayers program. Essentially, you send both returns to the IRS, and the IRS electronically forwards your state return to the tax authority in your state.