Olt Online Tax Return Reviews

Know the Pros and Cons of Digital and Paper Tax Returns

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 submitting have their advantages and disadvantages.  E-filing is safe, faster, and generally more convenient than paper filing, but filing by mail can be cheaper, although it takes 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, approximately 90% of taxpayers e-filed their returns.

Immediate Confirmation

The biggest advantage 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 receive a rejection notice (usually within 24-48 hours), and the note will typically indicate what triggered the actions and what you can do to repair your tax return.

Safety

E-filing is much more secure than paper filing, according to the IRS, because the return, with all of 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 in its service center.

Less Human Error


There is a lower chance that the IRS will make a mistake when processing your return because IRS employees do not have to manually put in your return line-by-line into its own system.

You Do Not Have to Use a Tax Prep Program

You don’t need to use an expensive 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 need to 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

While there are tax prep tools which 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 want.

Vulnerable to Outages

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

Does Not 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’t file a return for somebody who passed away, you can’t attach pictures 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

By way of instance, if you will 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 pictures or PDFs to supplement your tax return.

You Need to Build Your Tax Expertise

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

If you would like to learn about, and better review, the details of your tax return, including all forms related to your tax situation, filing a paper return provides the transparency that you crave. You may fill out each form line-by-line and see firsthand all of the calculations and factors your refund requires.

Disadvantages of Paper Filing

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 input taxpayer information for every paper return they receive.  As a result of this, it might lead to errors that you may need to fix through an amended return.

For filers who attempt paper filing after years of electronic filing, collecting all 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 entry when you file by paper:

  1. Make sure 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’s vital 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’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 ought to 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 website, which include the following options:

  1.             Hire a tax professional to prepare your return. 
  2. There are specific requirements for e-filing or paper filing if you use one of 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 duplicate.  You must file a paper tax return in this case and mail it in with Form 14039, the”Identity Theft Affidavit,” notifying the IRS of the issue.

Key Takeaways

    1. E-filing is fast and provides several free options
    2. Internet or website 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 pro or engaging in filing assistance programs.