E-filing means filing your taxes online. You’ll still need all the same documents you’d use to file a paper return, but you won’t have to worry about messy handwriting or missing pages.
You can e-file through a software program that walks you through the process step-by-step and calculates everything for you, or you can fill out your forms yourself and submit them to the IRS electronically. The option that’s best for you depends on your income and math skills.
The main benefit of e-filing is that it can take the guesswork out of doing your taxes.
Automated e-filing software is built to ask you questions and then use your answers to calculate your taxes for you. So, instead of filling out those long forms and schedules and trying to follow complicated instructions, you can just answer the program’s questions and let it do all the work.
E-filing can also mean:
If you opt to have your tax refund deposited directly into your bank account, the process can be 100% paperless from start to finish.
Several different websites allow you to e-file your taxes, including some you’ve probably heard of, such as H&R Block and TurboTax.
An Internet search for e-filing will bring up plenty of results, but make sure you use a website that’s authorized by the IRS, which provides a list of bona fide services here:
Whether or not you qualify for free e-filing may depend on how much you earn per year and if you’re comfortable crunching the numbers yourself.
|Your situation||Is it free?||You can e-file by . . .|
|Earn less than $66,000||Yes!||Filing through one of the IRS-authorized software providers.|
|Earn more than $66,000 and are already a tax whiz||Yes!||Using Free File Fillable Forms—basically a 1040 that you fill out and submit online but doesn’t hold your hand or offer advice through the process.|
|Earn more than $66,000 and need help||Nope.||Pay for a premium tax filing service through one of the sites authorized by the IRS,
or hire an accountant who can e-file.
Whether you fill out your tax forms yourself or use software, you’ll need:
Tax season may not be anyone’s favorite time of year, but using an authorized e-filing program can help you hold onto your sanity and get your refund faster.