IRS Pub. 17, Your Federal Income Tax
You may be able to file a paperless return, or a return with less
paper. This section explains:
Table 1-4 Benefits of e-file
- IRS e-file (electronic filing):
- Using a tax professional,
- Using your personal computer, or
- Using a telephone (TeleFile), and
- Computerized returns.
Table 1-4 lists the benefits of IRS e-file.
IRS e-file uses automation to replace most of the
manual steps needed to process paper returns. As a result, processing
of e-file returns is faster and more accurate than the
processing of paper returns. However, errors on the return or problems
with its transmission can delay processing.
As with a paper return, you are responsible for making sure your
return contains accurate information and is filed on time.
Using e-file does not affect your chances of an IRS
examination of your return.
In most states, you can file an electronic state return
simultaneously with your federal return. For more information, check
with your local IRS office, state tax agency, or tax professional.
You can have a refund check mailed to you, or you can have your
refund deposited directly to your savings or checking account.
With e-file, your refund will be issued in half the time
as when filing on paper (even faster if you choose direct deposit).
Most refunds are issued within 3 weeks. In many cases, you can receive
your refund in about 14 days, particularly if you choose direct
deposit. However, some refunds may be temporarily delayed as a result
of compliance checks. These checks make sure that returns are filed
accurately and the refund is correct.
Offset against debts.
As with a paper return, you may not get all of your refund if you
owe certain past-due amounts, such as federal tax, a student loan, or
child support. See Offset Against Debts under
If you do not receive your refund within 4 weeks after your return
was accepted by IRS, you can call TeleTax Refund Information. The
TeleTax number for your area is listed in your tax forms package.
Before you call TeleTax, please have the following information from
your return available:
- The first social security number shown on the return,
- Your filing status, and
- The exact whole-dollar amount of your refund.
If the TeleTax recording tells you the date your refund was issued,
you should receive the refund within a week of that date. If you do
not receive the refund by the end of that week, contact your IRS
office. See the telephone numbers listed under Calling the IRS
in your tax forms package.
If TeleTax has no information on your return, contact your tax
professional or electronic return transmitter for the date IRS
accepted your return. If your return was accepted more than 6 weeks
ago, contact the IRS. Explain that you filed your return
electronically and that TeleTax has no information on it. Also,
provide the first social security number shown on your return and the
date the IRS accepted your return.
If you have a balance due with your return, you must pay it by
April 15, 1999, to avoid late-payment penalties and interest.
Generally you should mail your payment with the Form
1040-V, Payment Voucher, included in your tax
forms package (or provided by your tax professional or electronic
If you have a balance due on your 1998 tax return, you can have
your checking or savings account debited directly for the amount of
the balance due.
The free IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax
Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs may be able to help you file
your return electronically. For information on these programs, call
Using a Tax Professional
Many tax professionals file returns electronically for their
clients. You can prepare your own return and have a professional
transmit it electronically, or you can have a professional both
prepare it and transmit it. Look for the "Authorized IRS e-file
Provider" sign. Tax professionals may charge a fee to
e-file your return.
Your tax professional will ask you to sign Form 8453, U.S.
Individual Income Tax Declaration for Electronic Filing. Both
spouses must sign if a joint return is being filed. Your tax
professional will file the Form 8453, along with your Forms W-2
and other required documents, with the IRS. Your tax professional is
required to give you the preparer-signed copy of your return,
including a copy of the completed Form 8453. This material is for your
records. Do not mail this copy to the IRS.
Using a Personal Computer
If you have a computer, a modem and tax preparation software, you
can e-file your return electronically from your home. Tax
preparation software offering the e-file option is
available at your local computer retailer or through various web sites
over the Internet. Using your personal computer, you can file 24 hours
a day, 7 days a week. You may be charged a fee for having your return
transmitted to the IRS. Your electronic return transmitter will inform
you if your return is accepted by the IRS.
What to send to IRS.
You will then have to send the IRS Form 8453-OL, U.S.
Individual Income Tax Declaration for On-line Filing, along with
your Forms W-2 and other required documents. Form 8453-OL
is available through your electronic return transmitter.
If you filed electronically last year, you may receive a post card
in the mail with an e-file customer number (ECN). If you meet the
requirements, you can use your ECN to file your return and not have to
file any paper forms.
Using a Telephone (TeleFile)
If you receive a TeleFile tax package, you may be able to file your
Form 1040EZ information over the phone. If you are eligible to use
TeleFile, IRS will send you the TeleFile tax package automatically.
You can use TeleFile only if you receive the package. You cannot order
The call takes about 10 minutes. To file using TeleFile, follow the
instructions in the TeleFile tax package. You must use a touch-tone
phone, your filing status must be single or married filing jointly,
you must live at the address printed on your TeleFile Tax Record, and
you cannot claim any dependents. In addition, you must meet the other
requirements explained in the TeleFile tax package.
TeleFile is a paperless system.
You will not have to mail a paper tax return or Forms W-2 to
the IRS. If you owe additional tax, see your TeleFile package for
information on how to send payments.
Almost anyone who files a tax return (Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ)
can now file a 1040PC return instead. You prepare a 1040PC return on a
personal computer. It generally has fewer pages than a conventional
The computer prints the return in a three-column "answer sheet"
format. It prints line numbers and dollar amounts (and/or supporting
explanations if necessary) only for lines on which you made an entry.
Supporting tax forms and schedules are also printed in this format. As
a result, an 11-page conventional return requiring forms and schedules
can be printed as a two-page 1040PC return. For your records, the
computer will also print out a legend paper with line item
If you need to list more items than fit on a regular tax return
(such as more dependents than there are lines for), you can list them
all on the 1040PC and print them in order, without the need for
attaching an additional statement.
Tax preparation software that includes the 1040PC print option is
checked and accepted by the IRS and has the 1040PC logo. It can be
processed faster and more accurately than the regular tax return.
Software packages are available at many computer software stores. They
are not available from the IRS. For more information, call the TeleTax
number for your area listed in your tax forms package.
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