The Internal Revenue Service opened its 21st season of electronic filing Monday with a reminder to taxpayers that e-file remains the best way to get fast refunds and ensure accurate tax returns, particularly following several tax law changes in December.
IRS e-file is approaching the milestone of 1 billion returns processed. The electronic transmission system, which has revolutionized the way the IRS processes tax returns and made speedy refunds possible, has safely and securely processed 892 million tax returns since its national debut in 1990. In 2010, nearly 100 million people– 70 percent of the taxpayers– used IRS e-file.
“IRS e-file is the best option for everyone, especially for people impacted by recent tax law changes,” said Doug Shulman, IRS commissioner. “E-file ensures people can file accurately and get refunds quickly. With a new legislative e-file mandate for tax preparers, we anticipate that more tax-return preparers will be using e-file this year, and we urge people who prepare their own taxes to give it a try. IRS e-file is now the norm, not the exception.”
The IRS also announced Monday that it anticipates starting to process tax returns impacted by December’s tax law changes by mid-February. The IRS continues working to reprogram its computers to reflect new tax law changes enacted by Congress and signed by President Obama in December.
Taxpayers can e-file their tax returns one of three ways: through a tax return preparer, through commercial software or through IRS Free File. The IRS does not charge for e-file. Many tax-return preparers and software products also offer free e-filing with their services. Free File offers free tax preparation and free electronic filing.
People must access Free File through the IRS website at IRS.gov by clicking on “Free File” or “Free File Home– Your Link to Free Federal Online Filing.” People may read more about Free File at freefile.irs.gov or IR-2011-5.
Those looking for a tax-return preparer who files electronically and for more information on e-file may visit irs.gov/efile/index.html. Taxpayers also can locate an e-file authorized tax professional nearest them by doing a ZIP code search. When using e-file, one also must use an e-signature. The IRS no longer accepts the paper signature document. Those who prepare their own return using software must use the self-select PIN method. Those who have a third party prepare their returns may use either the self-select PIN method or the practitioner PIN method. (See Fact Sheet 2011-07 for more details.)
A recently passed law requires certain paid tax-return preparers to electronically file federal income tax returns that they prepare and file for individuals, trusts and estates. Those are Forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ and 1041.