File Taxes Online Free 2020

Should You E-File or File Taxes by Mail?

Know the Pros and Cons of Digital and Paper Tax Returns

When you file your taxes, you have two options for submitting your return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS): electronically or by mail.

Both methods of filing have their advantages and disadvantages.  E-filing is safe, faster, and more convenient than paper filing, but filing by email can be cheaper, although it requires the IRS longer to process refunds.

The Advantages of E-Filing

A scant number of tax professionals–five of them, according to the IRS–took advantage of this new technology at the time.  The new filing method eventually caught on though and, as of 2018, roughly 90% of taxpayers e-filed their yields.

Immediate Confirmation

The biggest advantage of electronic filing is that you’ll receive almost immediate confirmation that the IRS has received your tax return.

If the IRS finds errors in your return, you will be given a rejection notice (usually within 24-48 hours), and the notice will typically indicate what triggered the actions and what you can do to fix your tax return.

Safety

E-filing is more secure than paper filing, according to the IRS, since the return, together with all your sensitive data, is transmitted directly to the IRS computer system.

Faster Processing

Your refund is very likely to be processed faster because e-filing means the IRS doesn’t need to sort or transcribe your tax return at its service center.

Less Human Error


There is a lower chance that the IRS will make a error when calculating your return because IRS employees don’t have to manually enter your return line-by-line to its own system.

You Don’t Have to Use a Tax Prep Program

You don’t have to use a costly tax preparation program to e-file your taxes–if you are tax savvy, have a simple situation, and are willing to understand, you can fill tax forms in directly using IRS free fillable forms.  Be aware that you should be comfortable completing basic tax forms to use the service as no guidance is provided.  And if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is less than $72,000, you might be better off using one of the IRS’ many free-file affiliates.

Fees

When there are tax preparation tools that are free, many of the top tax prep companies like TurboTax, TaxSlayer, and H&R Block charge fees for tax returns that go beyond a simple filing.  Fees can exceed $100, depending on which sort of features you desire.

Vulnerable to Outages

Glitches are always possible when you’re using the net.  In 2020, TurboTax’s site experienced at least seven outages between April 15 and April 17.  Additionally, your online service provider may face outages that could hamper your filing effort.

Doesn’t Allow for Certain Filing Situations

Though e-filing supports most tax situations, there are certain situations it doesn’t support.  By way of example, you can not file a return for someone who passed away, you can’t attach pictures or PDFs to your return, nor will you file before the IRS opens e-filing for the year.

Advantages of Paper Filing

Filing a paper return can be very helpful in some specific scenarios that e-filing can’t accommodate.

You Have a Rare Filing Situation

For example, if you need to prepare a tax return for someone who passed away, you must file a paper return.  Also, paper filing allows you to print and submit images or PDFs to supplement your own tax return.

You Want to Build Your Tax Expertise

Many online tax prep tools automate the filing process by asking you questions and using your answers to complete forms without telling you which forms it’s filing on your behalf.

You may fill out each form line-by-line and see firsthand all the calculations and factors your refund requires.

There are several drawbacks to paper filing that make the process riskier and more taxing than e-filing.

Increases Chances of Errors

Data transcribers at the IRS must manually input taxpayer information for every paper return they receive.  As a result of this, it might result in errors that you may need to fix through an amended return.

Overwhelming for Beginners

For filers who attempt paper filing after years of electronic filing, gathering all of the forms necessary for things like student loan interest, mortgage interest, capital gains, and business deductions can be intimidating, and it might result in missing forms or mistakes.

You Will Need to Remember to Sign the Return

Veteran paper filers realize that you have to manually sign the paper return you submit, or the IRS won’t accept it.  Newbie paper filers often forget this fact, resulting in even longer delays than what you’d normally expect with a paper return.

You can do a few things to streamline your yield submission when you file by paper:

  1. Make sure that your name and Social Security number are on each page, both front and back. 
  2. This is where the IRS will send any notices, so it is important that you don’t make a mistake.

  3. Mail your return to the perfect IRS service center, since the address can change depending on which state you are in, and whether you are including payment with your return.  The IRS provides a state-by-state list online so that you can find the right address.

  4. Get an automatic extension if you’re mailing your return near the official filing deadline of April 15, 2021.  Bear in mind that you ought to make a payment with your extension if you think you’ll owe anything.  Otherwise, you could be subject to interest and penalties.

The IRS provides a list of acceptable filing options on its own website, Including the following options:

  1.             Hire a tax professional to prepare your own return. 
  2. Use the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, or the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program, if you’re eligible. There are particular requirements for e-filing or paper filing if you use these programs.

In the unlikely event that your identity is stolen and the thief files a tax return with your data, your e-filed return will be rejected by the IRS as a copy.  You have to file a paper tax return in this situation and mail it in with Form 14039, the”Identity Theft Affidavit,” notifying the IRS of this issue.

Key Takeaways

    1. E-filing is quickly and provides several free options
    2. Web or site outages can cause frustrating delays for e-filers. 
    3. Paper filing requires more time than e-filing and may be overpowering. 
    4. Alternatives to filing taxes on your own include hiring a tax professional or engaging in filing aid programs.