Whether you have never filed your taxes by e-file or you do it every year, there are some common tips that all taxpayers should know before, during and after filing your taxes online. There are some great options for filing taxes and extensions online, take full advantage of these to ensure the most accurate return possible.
Are you wondering why you should e-file at all? There are a number of reasons that e-file may be right for you. The first is that it is accurate and relatively easy for those familiar with computers. The software is designed to be accurate and up to date to handle all your tax situations. This allows you to fill out the online forms and be directed by the software on which boxes to fill out. With automatic calculations, it is easy to see why many Americans turn to E-file to avoid costly math errors.
Whether you use the IRS’s E-file software or a third party software option, they are usually much easier than filling out the paper forms. This is because of their directed forms, automatic calculations, and online filing ability. If you decide on a third party software, be sure to buy or download the version for your tax filing year to ensure the proper calculations are applied. These software options provide faster filing, and in many cases a faster refund. Make sure to use an IRS Authorized e-file Provider so your information is kept safe, as they need to meet IRS regulations for data security.
Tips on E-filing
Before you start E-filing your taxes, just as you would for your paper forms, you will need to have all your tax paperwork and information in front of you. This includes all your relevant tax documents, including your W-2, any other income reporting figures for Forms W-3G, 1099, and 1098. Any other information you may need to substantiate or calculate specific amounts for – such as tax credits, tax deductions, or expenses – will also be needed before you start your e-file process.
When filing out your electronic forms, be sure to read the directions carefully and supply the right amounts where requested. Just like in paper forms, one wrong number could adjust your entire tax return negatively.
E-filing is faster and more efficient and allows you to pay your taxes along with your filing, thus avoiding any late payment fees. If you are unable to file your taxes by the April 15th deadline, you can file a tax extension instead. A tax extension (Form 4868) can be e-filed online in just a few minutes, and it will give you 6 more months to file your income tax return. But be aware that you are still supposed to pay your tax liability by April 15th, or penalties will apply.
As with a paper tax return, your online return will need to be “signed” as well, in some way that identifies you. This is usually done by providing your previous year’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) or a Personal Identification Number (PIN) that you create for your online tax account. Also, as with any online or digital program used for financial matters, make sure that your Internet connection and computer are secure, and that you do not use a shared or public computer for filing your tax return.
Lastly, although the IRS does not charge for e-filing on the IRS.gov website, they do not provide assistance either. If you need customer support with online filing, look for an IRS Authorized e-file Provider that can walk you through the process.