Should You E-File or File Taxes by Mail?

When you file your taxes, you have two options for submitting your return with the Internal Revenue Service ( IRS ) : electronically or by mail .

Both methods of filing have their pros and cons. E-filing is safe, faster, and by and large more commodious than newspaper filing. charge by mail can be cheaper, though it takes the IRS long to process refunds .

Learn more about choosing how to file your tax render .

Advantages of E-Filing

E-filing was first introduced in 1986, and it got away to a dull beginning. A skimp count of tax professionals—five of them, according to the IRS —took advantage of this new technology at the time .

The raw filing method finally caught on though, and, as of May 2022, over 135 million person income tax returns were e-filed in the 2022 file season .

There are respective advantages to e-filing, which are outlined below .

Immediate Confirmation

The biggest benefit of electronic filing is that you ‘ll receive about immediate confirmation that the IRS has received your tax return .

If the IRS finds errors in your fall, your empower IRS e-file provider is required to attempt to contact you within 24 hours with an explanation, which will typically indicate what triggered the natural process and what you can do to fix your tax reelect .

Check the electronic mail you have on file with your tax homework software or overhaul provider to catch any notifications that the IRS accepted or rejected your return .


According to the IRS, e-filing is more guarantee than paper filing because the come back, with all your sensitive information, meets strict security system guidelines and is protected by modern encoding technology .

Faster Processing

Your refund is probably to be processed preferably because e-filing means the IRS does n’t have to sort or transcribe your tax hark back at its service center .

Less Human Error

There ‘s a lower prospect that the IRS will make a error when processing your refund, because IRS employees don ’ t have to manually enter your return into its organization line-by-line .

Skip Tax Prep Programs

You don ’ t have to use an expensive tax planning program to e-file your taxes—if you ’ re tax understanding, have a simple situation, and are will to learn, you can fill tax forms in immediately using IRS Free File Fillable Forms .

You should be comfortable completing basic tax forms to use the program, as no guidance is provided .

The IRS publishes a annual list of Free File Alliance partners that will file your fall for release. To qualify, your AGI must be $ 73,000 or lower ( though some free-file providers cap income eligibility at $ 39,000 ), and you may have to meet an old age requirement.

Disadvantages of E-Filing

While the appliance and efficiency of e-filing have made it the go-to filing option for millions, there are some potential drawbacks angstrom well .


Though there are tax homework tools that are exempt, many of the leading tax homework firms, like TurboTax, TaxSlayer, and H & R Block, charge fees for tax returns that go beyond a basic filing. Fees can exceed $ 100, depending on how complex your tax filing is and the services you need.

Doesn ’ t Allow for Certain Filing Situations

Though e-filing supports most tax situations, there are sealed scenarios it does n’t support. For exercise, you can ’ metric ton :

  • Attach images or PDFs to your return
  • File before the IRS opens e-filing for the year

Advantages of Paper Filing

Filing a paper tax return can be very helpful in certain scenarios that e-filing can not accommodate. here are some examples .

You Have a rare Filing site

E-filing can only do so much. For exemplar, if you need to file form 1310 to claim a refund owed to person who passed away, you must complete the form and mail it. Paper file besides allows you to print and submit images or PDFs to supplement your tax return.

You Want To Build Your Tax expertness

many on-line tax homework tools automate the file process by asking you questions and using your answers to fill out forms without ever telling you which forms it ’ s filing on your behalf .

If you want to learn about, and better review, the details of your tax hark back, including all forms related to your tax position, filing a newspaper return provides the transparency you need .

You can fill out each class line-by-line and see firsthand all the calculations and considerations your refund requires .

Disadvantages of Paper Filing

There are several drawbacks to composition filing that make the action riskier and more challenge than e-filing :

Increased Chances of Errors

Data transcribers at the IRS must manually input taxpayer information for every paper return they receive. This could result in errors that require you to file an amended return .

Overwhelming for Beginners

For filers who try composition file after years of electronic file, gathering all the forms necessary for things like scholar loanword interest, mortgage interest, capital gains, and commercial enterprise deductions can be intimidating. That could lead to mistakes or missing forms .

You Need To Remember To Sign the Return

Veteran paper filers realize that you have to manually sign the paper return you submit, or the IRS won ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate accept it. Novice composition filers much forget this fact, leading to even longer delays than what is normal with a wallpaper render .

Tips for Paper Filing

You can do a few things to streamline your return submission when you file by composition :

  • Make sure your name and Social Security number are on every page, both front and back.
  • Double-check your address. This is where the IRS will send any notices, so it’s important that you don’t make a mistake. 
  • Mail your return to the right IRS service center. The address can change, depending on which state you’re in and whether you’re including payment with your return. The IRS provides a state-by-state list online so you can find the correct address.
  • Get an automatic extension if you’re mailing your return close to the official filing deadline. Keep in mind that you should make a payment with your extension if you think you’ll owe anything. Otherwise, you could be subject to penalties and interest.

The IRS will by and large accept newspaper filings postmarked by the filing deadline—it does n’t have to receive them by this date .

Alternatives to E- and Paper Filing on Your Own

The IRS provides a number of acceptable filing options on its web site, which include the take after :

  • Hire a tax professional to prepare your return.
  • Use the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) or the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program (TCE) if you’re eligible. There are specific requirements for e-filing or paper filing if you use either of these programs.

In the improbable event that your identity is stolen, and the thief files a tax return with your information, your own e-filed return will be rejected by the IRS as a duplicate. You must file a paper tax rejoinder in that case and mail it in with Form 14039, the “ Identity Theft Affidavit, ” notifying the IRS of the issue .

Key Takeaways

  • E-filing is fast and efficient and the IRS provides several free filing options.
  • Tax prep software like TurboTax and H&R Block charge fees (sometimes upwards of $100) depending on how complex your filing is and the services you need.
  • Paper filing requires more time than e-filing and can be overwhelming, especially for those used to e-filing.
  • Alternatives to filing taxes on your own include hiring a tax professional or participating in filing-assistance programs.

frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs )

Who can e-file taxes?

Most taxpayers are eligible to file electronically. however, in some cases, you may have to file by mail. here are a few examples :

  • You, your spouse, or one of your dependents doesn’t have a valid Social Security number.
  • Someone already claimed a dependent you are trying to claim.
  • You’re married but filing separately and subject to community property rules.
  • Your return requires forms that can only be filed by mail.
  • You have someone with power of attorney and require the refund to be sent to a third party.

When is the earliest I can e-file my taxes?

The IRS normally announces the first day it will accept returns erstwhile in January of each class. That date normally falls around the begin of February. You might be able to pre-file through a tax readiness service or electronic filing software, but they will hold your rejoinder until the beginning day the IRS begins accepting them.

How long does it take to get my tax refund?

The IRS says most e-filed tax returns with conduct lodge take 21 days or less to complete. If you file by mail, it could take up to six weeks. Filing electronically and accepting your refund by aim deposit is the fastest direction to do your taxes.

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Category : Finance

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