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Should You E-File or Paper File Your Annual Tax Return?

by | 02-11-2020 | file tax

There are three ways to submit your taxes to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), e-filing, mailing, or taking your tax return to an IRS tax service center. Most taxpayers choose to e-file because it’s faster, safer, more convenient, more accurate, and generally easier.

e-file

Check out all of the reasons to e-file this tax season.

However, there are some reasons why filing paper returns can be better. The question you may be asking is: “Should I e-file or paper file?” This article will go over the pros of e-filing as well as the reasons you may be better off paper filing.

The Benefits of Paying Your Taxes by Using the E-file Option

Most tax returns are filed via the internet. The IRS agrees with the popularity of this decision. According to the IRS, “Filing your tax return electronically is faster, safer, and more accurate than mailing your tax return because it is transmitted electronically to the IRS computer systems.”

1. It’s generally faster. Since you don’t have to hand-write all of the numbers out, it’s much quicker. The e-filing system is simple and speedy, so if you can, it’s recommended you e-file.
2. It’s more convenient. You don’t have to worry about your tax return getting lost in the mail. Instead, you can file in the comfort of your own home.
3. It’s safer. You get digital storage of tax data when you e-file. Paper filing runs the risk of mail fraud; someone could intercept your tax return and get your social security number if you file via the mail.
4. You get a quick confirmation your tax return was sent to the IRS. By e-filing, you will receive an instant confirmation showing you filed your taxes online.
5. You can get your tax refund back sooner and easier as it’s directly deposited into your bank account. Getting a timely refund is a HUGE advantage! If you have to pay taxes, e-filing offers an easier payment process.

e-file

Get your refund faster when you e-file.

6. It’s more accurate. E-filing reduces the chances of mistakes that may result in follow-up actions by the IRS. When you paper file, you have to rely on an IRS agent to transcribe the information on your tax return. This leaves room for errors.
7. It’s usually easier. The internet will guide you easily through the process if you are e-filing yourself. It’s a pretty straightforward program.

The Difference between E-filing and Paper Filing

E-filing stands for electronically filing. It’s the process of filing your tax return via the internet. Paper filing is when you mail a paper copy of your tax return to the IRS. E-filing is typically faster and easier than filing your tax return via the mail or going in-person.

Circumstances When E-filing May Not be the Best Answer

There are situations when you can’t e-file. Here are a few examples:
• If you need a tax form that is not available online.
• When you need to add additional pages or PDF documents.
• If the “additional information” section of the tax return does not have enough space for you.

Tips for Filing a Paper Tax Return

Here are some quick tips that should help you if you are filing your tax return via the mail or in-person:
• Place your name and social security number on each page of the tax return you are mailing.
• Be positive that you are sending your tax return on the correct date. Typically, you need to have your tax return post-marked by April 15. However, there are other important tax deadlines.
• Double-check your math; math errors are the number one way that the IRS finds mistakes.
• Since the IRS mails your refund check to you, be certain that your address is correct.
• Make sure you mail your tax return to the correct address. To find the IRS service center where you need to mail your return, go to the IRS Locator Page.

Conclusion

Most tax returns are e-filed. This is because it’s generally faster, easier, and more secure. However, there may be circumstances when it’s best to file a paper return. If the IRS does not have the form you need online, if you need to give the IRS attachments, or if you don’t have space to complete the additional information that you need to, you may be better off filing a paper return.