You may be able to file a paperless return, or a return with less paper. This section explains IRS e-file (electronic filing):
- Using a tax professional,
- Using your personal computer, or
- Using a telephone (TeleFile).
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, tax professional, or the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov
You can have a refund check mailed to you, or you can have your refund deposited directly to your checking or savings account.
With e-file, your refund will be issued in half the time as when filing on paper. Most refunds are issued within 3 weeks. If you choose direct deposit, you can receive your refund in as few as 10 days.
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, state tax, a student loan, or child support. See Offset Against Debts
under Refunds, later.
If you do not receive your refund within 4 weeks after your return was accepted by IRS, you can call TeleTax Refund Information. See What is TeleTax? in your tax forms package for information on how to use this service.
If TeleTax has no information about 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 16, 2001, to avoid late-payment penalties and interest. You can make your payment electronically by direct debit to your checking or savings account or by credit card.
See How To Pay, later, for information on how to pay the balance due.
VITA or TCE.
The 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 the IRS.
Using a Tax Professional
Many tax professionals file returns electronically for their clients. You can prepare your own return and have a professional electronically transmit it, or you can have your return prepared and transmitted by a tax professional. Depending on the tax professional, and the specific services requested, a fee may be charged. Look for the "Authorized IRS e-file Provider" sign or search for a provider near you on the IRS web site at www.irs.gov
(click on Electronic Services).
Your tax professional may ask you to sign Form 8453, U.S. Individual Income Tax Declaration for an IRS e-file Return. Both spouses must sign if a joint return is being filed. Your tax professional will file the Form 8453 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 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. Depending on the software program, you will need Internet access or a modem to file your return. 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 when the IRS accepts your return.
After the IRS has accepted your return, you may have to send the IRS Form 8453-OL, U.S. Individual Income Tax Declaration for On-line Filing . Form 8453-OL is available through your electronic return transmitter.
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 it.
To file using TeleFile, follow the instructions in the TeleFile tax package. The call takes about 10 minutes and is free. You must use a touch-tone phone.
TeleFile is a paperless system.
You will not have to mail a paper tax return or Forms W-2 to the IRS.
Table 1-5 When To File (Extensions)
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