E-filing, in rudimentary form at least, has been offered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) since 1986, with the number of taxpayers making use of the option increasing especially rapidly in recent years. Clearly many people have come to prefer this method.
What are the benefits of e-filing?
Instead of having to go through the mail, your return can be transmitted to the IRS through cyberspace practically instantaneously. That means if you’re due a refund, you’ll get your money that much sooner.
2. Tax filing software that helps one through the process
Depending on what program you use to file your taxes, the software may walk you through the whole process step by step, alerting you to possible deductions, warning you if what you’ve entered in a certain space appears to be out of sync with the rest of your return and possibly in error, etc. At the very least, the software will do the math for you.
3. Capacity to keep a copy
When you e-file, you can easily keep an electronic copy of your return on your computer and/or you can print up a hard copy if you have a printer attached to your computer.
The expense, though not all that great, used to count against e-filing, but the IRS has expanded its “Free File” program to where almost all taxpayers can use it now. So even if you don’t pay a professional tax preparer, or purchase commercial tax software, you can still e-file, and not even have to pay the equivalent of the stamp you’d use to mail in your return.
Some people are concerned about the security of e-filing, but really there are so many safeguards in place that the chances of someone hacking in and somehow getting access to your personal information is probably less than the chances of their stealing your return from the mail. So if anything, security can now be considered a comparative benefit rather than risk of e-filing.
6. Environmental benefits
If nothing else, one can say that the more that is done in a paperless way, the better for the environment and our natural resources.
7. Generational preference
Really for a lot of people, especially younger people, the big advantage to e-filing is that they are completely comfortable with computers and technology and prefer tasks to be shifted to their computer when possible. Filling out your tax return with a pen and mailing it in is gradually becoming the kind of thing – like using phones with cords or driving a car without GPS – that marks one as some sort of technology dinosaur.
For more information on e-filing and all tax matters, see www.irs.gov.