Making The Transition To Online Income Tax Filing

For several years, the number of tax filers who prepare their own return online has steadily increased. The IRS provides statistics on the number of e-filed tax returns that were self-prepared. The statistics also provide the number of e-filed returns prepared by tax professionals. Some individuals who now require professional assistance can reduce their tax preparation fees by filing online.

Almost anyone who is comfortable paying bills online or banking online is likely capable of filing their taxes online. The process of tax filing, however, takes more time than those other online activities. It is best to set aside at least an hour of your day, dedicated solely to tax return preparation.

Organize tax documents

Arrange any relevant information before actually starting your tax return. Remove all your paper tax forms from their mailers, and discard the mailers. If necessary, go online to obtain needed information. Note that most entry boxes on tax forms contain a sequential box number in addition to any entered data. As you prepare your tax return, you will make online entries that correspond to data contained in specific boxes.

Let the software do its work

The more you know about income tax, the quicker the process of online tax preparation will be. The software--such as FreeFileU--is designed to lead you through a series of tax scenarios that might apply to you. The process works somewhat like a flowchart, as your tax status is pinpointed by a succession of probing questions.

If necessary, you may stop the online filing process at any time and place the entire procedure on hold. Before a completed tax return is actually submitted to the IRS, you will receive a prompt asking if you are really ready to file. At that point, your tax return should also be ready for viewing and printing. Once the tax return has your approval, online submission is the virtual equivalent to dropping a paper tax return into a mail slot at the post office.

Wait for tax return approval

Online tax preparation usually includes both federal and state filing. After your returns are e-filed, they must be officially accepted by the taxing authorities. Once you receive acceptance emails for your filed returns, the process is complete. Provisions for receiving a refund or paying a tax balance are made during the preparation process itself.

If your return is not accepted as filed, a rejection reason will be provided. Common reasons for rejection might include the transposition of numbers or the misspelling of names. Re-submission is simply a matter of going through portions of the filing process again. The trend toward online tax filing is likely to continue in upcoming years.