5 On Your Side

E-Filing Makes Tax Time a Little Easier

Posted March 17, 2008

E-filing, or filing taxes electronically, can make the process easier and comes with other advantages, Consumer Reports says.

The Internal Revenue Service warns that last-minute changes to the tax code have forced the delay of some refunds. However, refunds for those who e-file will not be as lengthy.

Accountant Allan Ratafia files his clients' tax returns electronically to make the process less painful for himself.

"When you file electronically, it's nothing more than pressing a button, and it's filed. You don't have to deal with the issues of mail and sending it that way," Ratafia said. "It's very efficient."

Nor is it necessary to have a professional file your taxes electronically. Taxpayers can e-file by themselves – either online or by using a store-bought or downloaded tax program.

The IRS also offers a free e-filing program for those earning $54,000 or less. Click here for a list of free tax-prep programs.

E-filing, by whatever method, brings definite benefits, said Greg Daugherty, with Consumer Reports.

"Historically, refunds from e-filed returns are processed in about 10 days. If you mail your return, it could take several weeks," Daugherty said. "And you're less likely to make a mistake when you e-file, so you're less likely to get one of those scary letters from the IRS.

"And if you're expecting money back and have it directly deposited to your bank, the IRS has a relatively new option where you can have it split among three different accounts."

Another plus: E-filers reduce the chance of their refund being lost or stolen on the way to their mailbox.

For those who owe the government money, e-filing allows them to authorize the IRS to debit their bank account on the April 15 deadline, regardless of when they file.

The federal government also accepts credit and debit cards, but be aware: If you pay by credit card, you might be charged a convenience fee of 2.5 percent or more of your tax due.

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  • IzzMad2016 Mar 20, 2008

    cost of late fee and interest penalty for mailed-in returns lost in transit : God only knows.

  • giffman Mar 18, 2008

    Cost to e-file $15. Cost to mail it $0.41