W-2s are here: Why filing taxes online saves you time

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Take the Stress Out of Filing Taxes

Last week, the IRS started accepting electronically filed tax returns, officially kicking off the start of the 2016 tax season.

If you haven't already, you should start receiving all your relevant tax forms in the mail, such as your W-2 or 1099 form. Once you've gathered all your necessary tax forms, you'll be ready to file and on your way to getting your refund as quickly as possible.

For many people, their tax refund is the biggest paycheck they receive all year, so it's no surprise people want to get it as soon as possible to help pay bills, pay off debt, save for a rainy day or to treat themselves or their family.

Here's why filing your taxes online and choosing to e-file with direct deposit is the fastest, most cost-effective way to get your refund.

Important tax dates to know:

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W-2s are here: Why filing taxes online saves you time

January 15, 2016: Those who are self-employed or have fourth-quarter income that requires payment for quarterly estimated taxes must have them postmarked by this date

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April 18, 2016: Individual tax returns are due for the 2015 tax year

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April 18, 2016: Requests for an extension on filling out your taxes must be filed by this date

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April 18, 2016: Those who are self-employed or have first-quarter income that requires payment for quarterly estimated taxes must have them postmarked by this date

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April 18, 2016: This date is also the deadline to make a contribution to an IRA account for 2015

(Photo by Garry L., Shutterstock)

June 15, 2016: Those who are self-employed or have second-quarter income that requires payment for quarterly estimated taxes must have them postmarked by this date

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September 15, 2016: Those who are self-employed or have second-quarter income that requires payment for quarterly estimated taxes must have them postmarked by this date

(Photo via Shutterstock)

October 17, 2016: 2015 tax returns that received an extension are due by this date

(Photo by Juan Camilo Bernal via Getty Images)

October 17, 2016: Today is the last chance to recharacterize a traditional IRA that was converted to a Roth IRA during 2015

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January 15, 2017: Those who are self-employed or have fourth-quarter income that requires payment for quarterly estimated taxes must have them postmarked by this date

(Photo by Pascal Broze via Getty Images)

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Save time and money by filing online. The IRS reports that DIY tax preparation is the fastest growing tax prep method, up 5 percent year-over-year. And of the more than 150 million tax returns filed last year, about 85 percent of those were e-filed. Why are more people doing their own taxes online and choosing to e-file? Because not only can doing your taxes online save you time, but it can also be a more cost-efficient and accurate way to file – especially if you have a straightforward tax return.

If you have a straightforward tax return, there's no reason to drive somewhere and pay someone hundreds of dollars to file your tax return when you could do it yourself and keep more of your hard-earned money. Good tax software has become so user friendly and intuitive that you don't have to know anything about the tax code. In some cases, you may be able to file federal and state tax return for absolutely zero dollars.

Get your refund faster. When you e-file, your tax refund can be processed and delivered faster than paper filing, and choosing to e-file with direct deposit is the fastest way to get your tax refund. Last tax season, roughly 75 percent of tax filers received a tax refund, with the average refund being close to $2,800! The IRS states that it will issue nine out of 10 tax refunds within 21 days or less with e-file and direct deposit.

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Get it right the first time around. Filing online and choosing to e-file is not only faster than paper filing, it is more accurate as well; it removes the guesswork since many tax software programs do the calculations for you. When you e-file, the IRS receives your information in a digital copy, so no one needs to re-enter your information into a computer system. This means that the IRS can begin processing your information immediately, and there is less chance for errors to occur in the process.

Have a worry-free tax season. One of the biggest benefits to e-filing your taxes is that you receive confirmation from the IRS when your tax return is received. No more sitting around for weeks wondering if your paperwork made it to where it was supposed to go. No more "lost in the mail" excuses. No more worrying.

You'll also get a notice from the IRS for mistakes such as submitting the incorrect Social Security number for yourself, your spouse or dependents.

You may be able to file from your mobile device. Whether you are on the go or in the comfort of your own home, you now have the convenience of effortlessly and accurately doing your taxes when and how you want.

Stay in the loop. It's safe to say that we all like to know when our next paycheck is coming, and when you e-file, you not only receive word from the IRS letting you know they received your tax return, you will also be able to track the status of your tax refund once your tax return was accepted.

RELATED: Ways to avoid a tax audit

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W-2s are here: Why filing taxes online saves you time

Double check your figures to assure there are no mistakes

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Be sure to be 100% honest, and report your numbers realistically

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Those in the highest and lowest income brackets are most often targets of fraud, and thus, audits

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Don't draw too much attention with unusual or unrealistic deductions

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Filing returns electronically drastically reduces errors

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