Knowing Your E-filing Methods

Knowing Your E-filing Methods

E-filing, the shortened term for electronic filing, is when you chose to file and submit your income tax return to the IRS via one of the following methods:

  • An Online Tax Preparation Service
  • A Tax Preparation Software Program
  • A Tax Preparer's Computer

Today, most tax preparation companies offer a tax preparation software program designed to help consumers prepare and file their income tax returns.

An Online Tax Preparation Service

This service can normally be found on the website of most of the tax preparation firms, and is available for consumer use for a set fee. When purchasing tax preparation software, double-check to make sure the online filing option and/or online preparation is an included feature. If you already own tax preparation software that does not include this option, a simple online search can direct you to a variety of online tax filing sites. Most of these sites are on the level and secure, but it's a good idea to check and make sure your screen shows the little padlock, and their website for information submission begins with and https. Also, many service providers offer the e-filing option through the IRS Free File Alliance Program. Always check to make sure you know what the fees are before continuing with the service.

A Tax Preparation Software Program

Tax preparation software is thriving industry, and the competing programs offer a variety of features designed to enhance consumer desirability and ease-of-use. One of the most commonly offered features is the capability of allowing taxpayers to pay their taxes online, or e-file. For good tax software programs, the e-filing feature is simple and quick. The software takes you through the tax preparation procedure step-by-step, instructing you to input information from your tax documents (W-2s etc) at different times. Your work is double-checked along the way, and everything must be correct before you are allowed to proceed to the next step. If something doesn't match, an error message appears, allowing you to go back and correct the oversight. When you are finished inputting your tax information, your prepared return is submitted electronically to the IRS database.

If you want to take a few days to prepare your tax return before e-filing, select one of the tax preparation software programs that can be downloaded to your personal computer from the internet. These programs are different from those offered strictly online, and can be used offline at your convenience. When your income tax return is prepared to your satisfaction, you can then follow the instructions to connect to the internet and upload your tax return via the included e-filing methods in the tax preparation software.

A Tax Preparer's Computer

If you prefer to have someone else prepare your taxes for you, when you are selecting your tax preparer, ask if they submit tax returns via e-file. Most tax preparer's will offer this service, but make sure you also ask about any applicable fees beforehand. Having someone prepare your taxes for e-filing requires the same financial documents as if you were paper filing, so they don't require any more (or less) from you. In this case, the primary benefit of choosing to e-file would be speeding up your income tax refund.


Article written by: Letty G.

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