E-Filing: Common Questions

Taxpayers can submit their taxes electronically using the IRS’ Electronic Filing System via the e-file process. Tax preparation software approved by the IRS can be used to electronically file taxes with a desktop computer as well as from the latest smartphones and tablets.

What Are Some Benefits of E-Filing?

E-filing has the following advantages:

  • You can e-file 24/7
  • Secure encryption guarantees confidentiality on all your personal information
  • E-filed returns are less prone to errors compared to paper returns
  • Tax refunds are delivered faster
  • A notice will be sent about proof of filing after your return has been received and accepted.

20% of income tax returns done through paper have errors in them, that can lead to people overpaying on their taxes. This is in comparison with only about 1% of electronically prepared returns having errors as indicated by statistics from the IRS.

You will receive notice after your e-filed return has been received and approved by the IRS within 48 hours of submission. Returns are sent back to you or your tax preparer for correction if the IRS detects any errors.

It can take upto 6 weeks for your tax refund to arrive by mail. Refunds are delivered faster if you have used the e-file process for your return and choose to have it deposited straight into your bank account as a direct deposit.

Electronic filing can be done even if you owe taxes. Keep in mind that you need to pay your tax by the default deadline of April 15th – April 18th for this year. Your taxes will be considered to have been paid on time if you mailed your check by the deadline. Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), Electronic Funds Withdrawal (EFW) from your bank account, money order, or credit card are some other options of paying your taxes. Service charges or convenience fees apply for taxes paid by credit cards.

How Much Does it Cost to E-File?

Tax preparers and tax preparation software companies issue e-file charges. While some are more reasonably priced than others, on average, it costs between $20-$80 to e-file a Federal return, plus an additional $30-50 to e-file a State return. You may be eligible to use the IRS Free File software program if your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) was below $64,000 in 2016.

Can you E-File State Returns?

According to the  “Federal/State e-file Program,” the states, including the District of Columbia, that allow you to e-file your state tax return at the same time you e-file your federal return online, are listed below. After you send both returns to the IRS, the IRS electronically forwards your state return to the tax authority in your state.  

Alabama Kansas North Dakota
Arizona Kentucky Ohio
Arkansas Louisiana Oklahoma
Colorado Maryland Oregon
Connecticut Michigan Pennsylvania
Delaware Mississippi Rhode Island
District of Columbia Missouri South Carolina
Georgia Montana Utah
Hawaii Nebraska Vermont
Idaho New Jersey Virginia
Illinois New Mexico West Virginia
Indiana New York Wisconsin
Iowa North Carolina

A few states like California, Maine, Massachusetts and Minnesota allow you to directly e-file your state return.

What About Confidentiality?

The IRS enforces the same rules of confidentiality upon the various tax authorities, and professional tax preparers for e-filed returns, as for paper returns. Only with your authorization, are they permitted to reveal or discuss any information from your tax return with the rules being the same for tax software developers. Throughout the entire e-file process, customer data must remain confidential.

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