With e-file, taxpayers can avoid common filing mistakes. This doesn't mean, however, that you shouldn't be careful. Following are a few e-filing tips to help you get your return to the IRS safely this tax season:
- Organize your records before you begin. You'll need your current year tax documents as well as last year's tax return.
- Sign your return. Yes, you'll "sign" your e-filed return, too, by entering last year's adjusted gross income or a five digit PIN (Personal Identification Number) that you create. To create a PIN, go to the IRS website and fill out its secure form.
- Pay your taxes. If you e-file and you owe, you can send a check to the U.S. Treasury, pay by credit card or authorize an electronic funds withdrawal.
- Get your refund. If you e-file and you're due a refund, you can arrange to have your check mailed to you or get it faster with direct deposit.
- Be secure. If you e-file your tax return using third party online software, make sure that the connection is secure (one telltale sign is "https" in the URL).
- Use common sense. If you use a shared computer, such as a computer at a public library, make sure you log out from the program and clear out the Web browser cache. It's recommended, however, that for the best security, you not use a shared computer.
- Consider using an authorized IRS e-file provider. If you opt not to e-file on your own, you can use the Authorized IRS e-file Provider Locator to find a tax professional who has been accepted into the IRS electronic filing program.
- Remember that the IRS doesn't charge to e-file. While your tax professional or software provider may charge a fee, the IRS doesn't charge a fee for electronic filing. If you qualify for free tax services, you may be able to e-file and not pay a thing.
- Be careful. Finally, remember, if you receive an email purporting to be from the IRS that requires a response, do not click on it or respond directly. The IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers via email.