How To Get Tax Free Weekend Online

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 submitting have their pros and cons.  E-filing is safe, faster, and more convenient than paper filing, but filing by mail can be cheaper, though it takes 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 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 returns.

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

If the IRS finds errors on 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 repair your tax return.

Safety

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

Faster Processing

Your refund is likely to be processed quicker because e-filing means the IRS doesn’t have to sort or transcribe your tax return in its service center.

Less Human Error


There’s a lower chance that the IRS will make a error when processing your return because IRS employees do not need to manually put in your return line-by-line to its system.

You Do Not Have to Use a Tax Prep Program

You don’t need to use a costly tax preparation program to e-file your taxes–if you’re tax savvy, have a very simple situation, and are prepared to understand, you can fill tax forms in directly with 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 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 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 want.

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

Does Not Allow for Certain Filing Situations

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

Benefits of Paper Filing

Filing a paper return can be very helpful in some specific scenarios that e-filing can’t 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 someone who passed away, you have to 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 Experience

Many 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 is filing on your behalf.

You can fill out each form line-by-line and see firsthand all of 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 enter taxpayer information for each paper return they receive.  As a result of this, it might lead to errors that you might have to fix via an amended return.

For filers who try 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 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 return submission when you file :

  1. Make sure that your name and Social Security number are on every page, both back and front. 
  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 right IRS service center, as the address can change based on which state you’re 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 correct address.

  4. Get an automatic extension if you are mailing your return close to the official filing deadline of April 15, 2021.  Bear in mind that you should make a payment with your extension if you believe 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 own return. 
  2. There are specific requirements for e-filing or paper filing if you use one of 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. Internet or site outages can cause frustrating delays for e-filers. 
    3. Paper filing requires more time than e-filing and can be overwhelming. 
    4. Alternatives to filing taxes in your include hiring a tax professional or participating in filing assistance programs.