Filing your Taxes Via Paper: Pros and Cons

How to File Your Taxes By Paper

Taxes can either be filed on paper or through the Internet (e-file). There are pros and cons to both approaches. Hence each individual applying for taxes should make their decision based on their own personal situation; they know best as to which option is better suited to their tax filing needs.

The Pros to Filing Your Taxes By Paper

Some of the reasons to file a tax return on paper are below.

  • Not every knows how to file their taxes electronically, therefore, paper filing is the only option that they have. A few tax return cases are so complicated paper filing is the best option; a paper trail might be needed. Not all forms and schedules are available online, for example, if a married couple wants to separately file their taxes and they live somewhere with community property laws, they would do best to file their taxes on paper.
  • Some online tax filing systems can be expensive – most charge a service fee. If your case is any bit complicated, you will probably have to pay more to these systems to utilize their less commonly used features. Contrarily, the only costs associated with paper filing is the postage cost, besides the time and effort required to complete the forms, that is.
  • Keeping your information safe and securely stored is another issue to think about when filing your tax return. Considering that returns contain highly sensitive and personal information, a breach of security can be a severe issue. It’s harder to intercept paper tax returns as they can only be accessed in a single location while electronic tax returns can be accessed by anyone with the right skills and resources to hack the system. 

The Cons to Filing Your Taxes By Paper

Contrarily, the reasons for not filing a tax return on paper are mentioned below:

  • In terms of timing, paper tax returns take longer than electronic tax returns to firstly arrive at the IRS, and secondly, take longer to be processed than e-files.
  • Filing paper tax return does not offer the same amount of convenience as preparing an electronic tax return. A reason for this is that doing the calculations manually is a time consuming process; including the time needed to check for human errors. Another reason is that electronic filing systems can automatically fill out certain entries using previously stored tax return information.
  • Electronic filing has a smaller ecological footprint in comparison to paper filing and puts less demand on nature and the environment. It does not expend heavily on resources like paper, manufactured printer cartridges, and motor vehicles for transportation that contribute a to a bigger overall carbon footprint.

Although it is eventually up to tax filers to choose between paper and electronic means, in general, complicated tax situations should be dealt with on paper while less complicated tax situations should use electronic filing to make the process as convenient as possible.

Featured Image: DepositPhotos/ mblach