Some taxpayers still use the old-school method of filing their tax returns: on paper. For these people, now is the time to switch and file electronically.
All taxpayers should consider joining the more than 138 million taxpayers who used IRS e-file last year. Here are the top reasons why taxpayers should file electronically in 2020:
It’s safe and secure. IRS e-file meets strict security guidelines. It uses modern encryption technology to protect tax returns. The IRS continues to work with states and tax industry leaders to protect tax returns from tax-related identity theft. This effort has helped put safeguards in place to make electronic tax filing a safe and secure option.
E-file is often free. Most taxpayers can use online software to e-file for free through IRS Free File. This program is available only on IRS.gov and is for taxpayers who earned less than $69,000 in 2019. Another option, Free File Fillable Forms, is available to all taxpayers regardless of income.
Many taxpayers may also qualify to have their taxes e-filed for free through IRS volunteer programs. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance offers free tax preparation to people who generally earned $56,000 or less. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly program helps people who are 60 or older.
It’s also available through other convenient options. Taxpayers can buy commercial tax software to e-file right from their home computer if they don’t qualify for Free File software. They can also ask their tax preparer to e-file their tax return. The bottom line is that e-file is much more convenient than filling out and mailing paper tax forms.
It’s accurate and easy. E-file helps taxpayers avoid mistakes, such as an incorrect Social Security number. Taxpayers who e-file receive an acknowledgement from the IRS within minutes, telling them their return has been accepted. If a return is rejected, the acknowledgement says why the IRS rejected the tax return.
People who e-file get faster refunds. When taxpayers e-file and use direct deposit for their refund, in most cases they can get their money in less than 21 days. On the other hand, if they mail a paper tax return to the IRS and request a refund check in the mail, it can take up to six weeks. That’s a difference of three weeks! Also, since e-filed returns are generally more accurate, there probably won’t be additional delays. Delays can be caused when the IRS finds mistakes that must be fixed before the agency can send a refund.
It can be used whether a taxpayer is getting a refund or needs to make a payment. Taxpayers who owe taxes can e-file early and set up an automatic payment on any day until the April deadline. They can pay electronically from their bank account with IRS Direct Pay. Taxpayers can visit IRS.gov for information on other payment options.