IRS tax forms are used by individuals and organizations to report income and pay taxes to the federal government. The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) is responsible for issuing tax forms, collecting taxes, and enforcing tax law throughout the United States.
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The most widely-used IRS tax form is Form 1040 (U.S. Individual Income Tax Return). It is often called “the long form” to distinguish it from the other 1040 tax form variations (1040A, 1040EZ, 1040NR, etc.). The standard 1040 Form can be used by any full-time U.S. resident, although you may opt to use the simplified versions (Tax Form 1040A or Tax Form 1040EZ) if your tax situation is relatively simple.
READ: Pros and cons of e-filing taxes
Downloading and Printing Tax Forms
The IRS provides PDF files of nearly every tax form and publication on their website. To download a tax form online, you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. To print a tax form, use the “Print” button on the left of the Adobe Acrobat toolbar (above the viewing window). After printing your tax form, you can fill it out by hand and then mail it to the IRS.
Fill-In Tax Forms
The IRS also offers Free Fillable Forms which allow you to save (and print) the information you’ve typed in online. The fill-in tax forms also require Adobe Acrobat Reader software. To save the data you’ve filled in, use the Adobe Reader’s “Save” function (not the web browser’s “Save” function). Everyone is eligible to use these online tax forms, regardless of your income level or what type of form you’re filing.
Electronically Filing Tax Forms
The IRS began using electronic filing in 1990. Due to an agreement with tax preparation software vendors, the IRS has not created its own online tax filing software, and in return, the vendors have provided free e-filing to many Americans. In addition to electronic filing for federal tax forms, most states also allow online filing for state tax returns.
INFOGRAPHIC: Dramatic rise in e-filing taxes
Filing IRS Tax Forms by Paper vs. Using an Online Tax Preparation Program
Those who are filling out a paper tax form will need to mail it to the IRS upon completion. On the other hand, if you are using tax preparation software or filing through a tax professional, electronic filing may be a better option. Tax forms that are submitted electronically are often processed faster, which means you get a faster tax refund.
There are many benefits to filing your tax forms online using a tax preparation program. Once you are familiar with the advantages of electronic filing, there is a good chance that you will put down the pen and paper forever.
Filing your tax forms online can result in less hassle, headaches and can even lower your chance for an IRS tax audit. The automated systems featured on most tax preparation software programs can help you get as much money back as possible. It helps lower mistakes made as well, such as mathematical errors and calculations. Luckily, there are several ways you can file your taxes online using tax preparation software.
The Advantages of Using Online Tax Preparation Programs
No matter how simple or complex your income tax return is, you can use a tax preparation program to file your tax forms online. Most tax preparation programs offer a free option for those who have a simple tax return and don’t need much help.
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If you are willing to spend a few extra dollars, you can upgrade to an application that offers more features, such as audit protection and email assistance. Along with this, paying a little more money also puts you in a position to file your state taxes online.
Tax preparation software is becoming more and more popular for many reasons. Most tax preparation programs make it easier to file taxes online and are able to answer any questions you may have. Additionally, much of the software is built to help you take advantage of as many tax deductions and tax credits as possible.
It Organizes Your Records
When you file taxes online, you are creating a permanent electronic record for your use in the future. If a question comes up about any of your tax forms, you will not have to dig through filing cabinets or giant stacks of paper. Instead, tax preparation software allows you to pull up your information on your computer and get to work right away.
It Can Actually Save You More Money
While you may have to pay a fee to file taxes online, in the end you could very well make this money back (plus more). Many people find that filing taxes online gives them the chance to take advantage of more tax credits and tax deductions they didn’t realize they were eligible for. Many tax preparation programs will help you file your return and inform you about potential tax benefits. In turn, you may receive a larger tax refund or end up owing less money.
It Improves Accuracy & Helps Avoid Tax Audits
It should go without saying, but you need to make sure that your tax forms are 100% accurate. When you file taxes online this is often much easier to do. Electronic filing using an online tax program takes much of the guesswork out of the tax preparation process ? many programs even do the math calculations for you. You won’t have to worry about which tax forms you need, or what step to take next because your tax preparation software will show you the way. Believe it or not, some programs even have audit protection tools built into them.
With this type of tool, mistakes are found before you electronically submit your tax return to the IRS. Not only does this mean a more accurate tax return, but it also translates into a lesser chance of being audited.
It Gets You a Faster Tax Refund
Are you owed a tax refund from the IRS? If so, filing taxes online helps ensure that you will receive your money as soon as possible. With an online tax preparation program, using the “Direct Deposit” option will allow you to receive your tax refund quickly (usually in 2 weeks or less). Your tax refund will be deposited directly into your bank account so you can use that money immediately.
Getting organized and preparing your own tax forms can take up a lot of time. If you are a busy person, or you don’t want to spend an extended amount of time on tax preparation, you should probably consider using an online tax preparation program.
Over the past few years, more and more people have begun to consider electronic filing as a top-notch tax preparation alternative. In addition to the help that you can receive while filing your tax forms, many programs feature tax preparation guides and other resources that can help you understand how to file your tax return, corporate and business taxes, finding tax deductions, and much more.