Answers To Taxpayers' Questions about e-Filing

Armen Hareyan's picture


Are you ready to join the more than 50 million Americans who are expected to file their taxes electronically this year? According to the Colorado Society of CPAs, IRS e-file is an accurate, fast, and safe alternative to filing a paper tax return. The Society provides these answers to some common questions about e-file.

What are the key benefits of e-filing?

According to the IRS, the error rate for electronically filed returns is less than one percent, compared to 20 percent for paper returns. If you're due a refund, you can expect to get it in half the time of filing a paper return - and in as little as ten days when your refund is deposited directly into your savings or checking account. For taxpayers who owe taxes, e-file offers the convenience of filing an early tax return and delaying payment until it's due.

How does e-filing work?

IRS e-file gives you several options. You can prepare your return using commercially available software and pay a professional to transmit it electronically, or you can pay to have your return both prepared and transmitted. Either way, an authorized IRS e-file provider - a tax professional, such as a CPA who has been accepted into the IRS electronic filing program - must transmit your return to the IRS. The IRS maintains a list of authorized providers on its Web site.

For added convenience, with a personal computer and software that can be purchased, downloaded from the Internet, or accessed online, you can e-file your return from your home. You prepare your return on your personal computer and send it via a modem to an electronic return transmitter who converts the file to meet IRS specifications.

How do I sign my e-file return?

The easiest way to sign your return is by using a Personal Identification Number (PIN) that you select. If you would rather not use a PIN, Form 8453 is a signature document you sign and mail to the IRS separately.


How will I know that the IRS has received my return?

Within two business days, your tax professional should receive an electronic acknowledgement that the IRS has received and accepted your return for processing. If the IRS finds an error on your return, it notifies the transmitter to correct and resubmit the return.

How quickly can I get my refund?

According to the IRS, e-file is the fastest way to get your refund. When you file electronically, you can expect your refund in as little as 7 to 10 days if you choose direct deposit. Direct deposit is a fast, simple, and secure way to have your Federal income tax refund deposited automatically into your checking or savings account.

What if I owe money?

You may file electronically as soon as you are ready, and hold off on paying your bill until April 15. Your balance can be paid by check, along with IRS payment voucher Form 1040-V, or by direct debit from your checking account (include your bank routing information and account number on Form 1040 when you file electronically). You may also pay by credit card. To avoid late payment penalties, transmit your payment by April 15.

What about state taxes?

In many states, there is a Federal/state e-file program that allows you to file your state return at the same time you file your Federal return. Check with your IRS e-file Provider.

Is there a fee for IRS e-file?

The IRS does not charge a fee for electronic filing. Some authorized IRS e-file providers may charge a fee for transmission.