The IRS encourages taxpayers to file their tax returns electronically using its e-file system. The online service is free, fast and reliable.
The IRS said almost 90 million taxpayers used e-file to file their returns for tax year 2007, surpassing the 80 million e-filers who used the system for their year-earlier returns. In addition, more than 273,000 originators -- tax-preparation services and the like - were signed up for e-file in 2005, an increase of more than 5% from a year earlier.
According to the IRS, e-file also expedites tax refunds, shaving a week off the average time of three weeks to process a return. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia participate in IRS e-file's filing program so that you may file a state tax return together with your federal tax return.
Additional features of IRS e-file include:
Choose a five-digit, self-selected personal identification number (PIN) to substitute as an electronic signature using IRS Form 8879
, which authenticates your electronic signature and authorizes electronic payments and tax refunds between you and the IRS.
Accuracy. The IRS claims an error rate of under 1% with e-file, well below an historical rate of about 20% for paper returns.
Verification. The IRS sends an electronic verification within two working days to the authorized tax professional, or electronic return originator that submits your return. (Note: Before the originator can submit your tax return with e-file, you will need to give it W-2 forms for the tax year.)
Instead of using an electronic return originator, you can also download free software from an IRS-designated Web site to send your return directly. Of the nearly 90 million individual taxpayers who used e-file for the 2007 tax return season, almost 63 million returns were submitted by originators and 26.9 million submitted by individuals.
A link to e-file is prominently listed in several places at the IRS Web site (www.irs.gov).