The IRS always suggests filing as soon as you have all of your tax forms and documents together. By doing so you will be able to have your tax return processed and receive your refund quickly. In some cases, depending on the tax software that you use you are able to file your returns even if the IRS has not started accepting returns yet.
To file your taxes you have the option of e-filing or paper filing. E-filing is always recommended because it is quick, safe, and easier than paper filing. However, when you paper file you will spend less money, but your refund will also take longer to arrive.
Advantages of E-filing
E-filing allows you to make sure your information stays secure and that you receive your refund quickly. However, in order to e-file you have to go to a tax preparer, use a tax software to file them yourself, or use one of the “Free File” programs.
When you file your tax return electronically you will get a confirmation that lets you know that the IRS has received it. This lets you know that they are processing your return. Also, if your return is not accepted you will receive a rejection notice. Usually, 24 hours after you have submitted your return you will receive a confirmation or rejection. In the event that your return is rejected, you will also be made aware of what needs to be done to get it approved.
Fast & Accurate
When you e-file, your tax return is processed quicker, which means you will get your refund quicker. The IRS doesn’t have to re-type your return, which means the chances of them making a mistake is slim.
Limitations to E-Filing
Unfortunately, not everyone can e-file. If you fall in any of the below categories you have to paper file.
- You reside in a community property state and file separately from your spouse
- You claim a dependent who someone else claimed
- You have to file a tax form that is not available electronically
- You file before January 15th or after October 15th
If you are not eligible to e-file or have a simple tax return, paper filing is a great option. However, it is suggested that you e-file since the IRS has to re-type paper returns.
Tips for Paper Filing
- Put your name and social security number on the back and front of each page
- Make sure your address is correct. If you are moving consider getting a P.O. box
- Check all of your math to ensure calculations are correct
- Mail your return to the correct service center
- Get an extension if you plan to mail your return near the deadline so you will not be penalized if it arrives late.
- Send your tax payment with your return. It is important to pay by April 15th, even if you have an extension to file, to avoid penalties.
The Benefits of Filing Your Taxes Online
Keep in mind, if you file online with H&R Block or TurboTax they will ask you the correct questions to let you know which deductions you qualify for and guarantee you will receive the largest refund ever.
Their online filing services have the ability to import your W2 information into your tax return so you can avoid worrying about your forms being delivered via snail mail. You can also use their free tax refund estimator to see how much of a refund you can expect.