There's good news this year when it comes to doing your taxes: Recent improvements and enhancements to electronically filing, or e-filing, make preparing your taxes much easier and eliminate the need to send long paper forms to the Internal Revenue Service.
Benefits of E-filing
In 2008, almost 90 million tax returns were submitted electronically. The e-file option is available online, either through packaged software or from your tax professional.
There are many benefits to using e-file:
- Accuracy. E-filed returns are less prone to errors, because the software catches mistakes and reduces the likelihood of follow-up correspondence from the IRS.
- Speed. Refunds can arrive within as little as 10 days of filing if you use direct deposit.
- Security. The IRS states that electronic transmissions are secure, using dedicated lines with the latest encryption technology.
- Confirmation. You'll receive an electronic acknowledgement, typically within 24 hours, saying that the IRS received your e-filed return.
- Accessibility and Convenience. You can electronically file your return 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and duplicate information, such as your address, is copied on to new forms.
- Cost. Many of the tax-software programs no longer charge extra for electronically filing your tax return.
For those who do not have access to an AARP Tax-Aide location, how would you like to e-file on your own for free?
Electronically preparing and filing your taxes can be free if you go to the IRS Web site and select Free res.
1. If your adjusted gross income was $56,000 or less in 2008, you are eligible to electronically prepare and file your taxes at IRS.gov for free with Free res. Free res is safe and easy to use, as it asks simple questions and puts your answers on the right forms. It is available in English and Spanish. Go to IRS.gov, click on "Free res and select a tax preparation company from the list. A number of them are partners with the IRS in this effort. You'll be directed to the site of the company you choose, where you can electronically prepare and e-file your return.
Both options are described in more detail on IRS.gov.