How File Tax For Free Online

Should You E-File or File Taxes by Mail?

When you file your taxes, you’ve got two options for filing 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 generally more convenient than paper filing, but filing by mail can be cheaper, though it requires the IRS longer to process refunds.

The Benefits of E-Filing

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

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 on your return, you’ll receive a rejection notice (usually within 24-48 hours), and the notice will typically indicate what triggered the action and what you can do to fix your tax return.

Safety

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

Faster Processing

Your refund is likely to be processed quicker because e-filing means the IRS does not need to sort or transcribe your tax return at its service center.


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

You Don’t Have to Use a Tax Prep Program

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

Fees

While there are tax prep tools that are free, many of the leading tax prep firms like TurboTax, TaxSlayer, and H&R Block charge fees for tax returns that go beyond a basic filing.  Fees can exceed $100, depending on which sort of features you want.

Vulnerable to Outages

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

Does Not Allow for Certain Filing Situations

Though e-filing supports most tax scenarios, there are certain situations it does not support.  For instance, you can not file a return for somebody who passed away, you can not attach pictures or PDFs to your return, nor will you record before the IRS opens e-filing for the year.

Advantages of Paper Filing

Filing a paper return can be very helpful in certain scenarios that e-filing cannot accommodate.

You’ve Got a Rare Filing Situation

E-filing can only do so much. For example, if you will need to prepare a tax return for somebody who passed away, you must file a paper return.  Also, paper filing lets you print and submit images or PDFs to supplement your tax return.

You Need to Build Your Tax Expertise

Several online tax prep tools automate the filing process by asking you questions and using your replies to complete forms without ever telling you which forms it’s filing for your benefit.

You can fill out every form line-by-line and see first-hand all the calculations and considerations your refund requires.

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

Increases Odds of Errors

Data transcribers in the IRS must manually enter taxpayer information for every paper return they receive.  Because of this, it could result in errors that you might need to fix through an amended return.

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

You 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, leading to even longer delays than what you’d normally expect with a paper return.

Tips for Paper Filing

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

  1. Make sure that your name and Social Security number are on each page, both back and front. 
  2. This is where the IRS will send any notices, so it’s 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’re including payment with your return.  The IRS provides a state-by-state list online so you can find the correct address.

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

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 return. 
  2. There are particular requirements for e-filing or paper filing should you use these programs.

In the unlikely event your identity is stolen and the thief files a tax return with your information, your e-filed return will be rejected by the IRS as a copy.  You must 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 fast and provides several free options
    2. Internet 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 in your include hiring a tax professional or participating in filing assistance programs.