Taxes: paper or e-file, and why?

I mailed my paper returns today. I tried e-filing last year but couldn’t locate an e-filer that would allow me to file free. This year I found one (presumably there are others) but upon entering everything I felt that on both the federal and the state returns the online filing was wrong. I think each refund should have been larger.

How about you?

I use an accountant. He saves me substantially more than his fee, so it’s worth it. Plus, all I have to do is review and mail my returns.

I’ve e-filed my returns since it became available. I use turbo tax for the web, I figure the time it saves me is worth the 20 bucks. It used to take me at least a full day to do them in the paper days, now it only takes about 3 hours but my return is pretty simple.

I use Turbo Tax because it’s so much easier, and I get a rebate if I efile, so it’s effectively free as long as I remember to send the rebate in.

Paper. Paper is 37 cents for the federal return. E-file is $7.95. E-filing is just a tax upon your tax return (especially since it costs the IRS less to use it) and I refuse to pay it.

Moderator’s Notes: This thread is an excellent candidate for IMHO. Away it goes. Much like your tax dollars.

and you just know that the IRS will pass the savings on to the taxpayers :rolleyes:

E-file. I’ve used Turbo Tax Online for the past several years. It’s worth the filing fee, and you get explanations of everything and they remember your previous year’s information.

TeleFile - because I’m a single male with no deductions - quick and easy. When my last W-2 comes in, I call the toll free number, enter the info, and in about ten minutes my taxes are done. Plus, with direct deposit, I get my refund in 1-2 weeks.

IRS has lots of free sites listed (with some conditions), efiling is faster and if you give your checking info, you can get your refund (if any) within two weeks.

I’ve done it the last three years with no problem, saves time and you don’t have to calculate squat.

Anybody savvy enough to post an answer on this board can do their taxes, on line, in a very short time.

Yeah, but the free sites are only for people with tiny incomes or who can do the 1040EZ. I have business income to deal with, which means they won’t touch me.

Actually, I’ve been using Tax Act, and it’s clear that electronic filing requires more time to fill out the form (because you have to enter your W-2 information again instead of just jotting down the numbers and sending in the copies).

Until it’s $1 or less for everyone, electronic filing is a rip off.

FWIW, the conditions for free filing seem to summarize to:

  1. Make less than $X (X seems to vary between 25K and 33K, depending on the company), or
  2. Be under 21 (Online Taxes) or over 50 (TaxBrain Online Tax Center), or
  3. Be eligible to file a 1040EZ (TaxACT), the return for people with ultra-simple incomes and no deductions.

TaxACT also says you’re eligible if your adjusted gross income is $50K or more, but I’m willing to bet that’s a typo. The more income you have, the more complicated your taxes generally are, since you tend to have a greater variety of income-producing assets and a greater variety of deductions. I’d try it, but it looks like I’ve got to actually start my return on their site just to find out if I’m eligible, and I’m not sure I want to do that.

I think I’ll shell out my annual $20 for TurboTax. It took a bit of getting used to, the first year I used it. But now that I’m used to it, I like it. It does as good a job with my taxes as I could do (and I was a tax professional of sorts at one time), only faster and neater, and it keeps all my tax stuff organized.

Oh, I missed (4) Being active, on-duty military (TaxSlayer/American Pledge) - and that’s not a trivial omission. There’s a bunch of you on this board, you’ve got free filing coming to you if you want it, and you most certainly deserve it.


Because I’m stubborn.

Random useful fact: if you go through, you can use TurboTax Online for 50% off normal rates, and you don’t have to be a Fidelity customer, just a “guest”.

TaxAct maintains it’s not a typo on their website, and that it’s free for over $50,000. I don’t understand personally how they can do that. BTW, they also provide a downloadable version of their software for free that you can use to print your return, so that may be the best best for some people. Don’t have to worry about the math like with the forms, but it’s still only $0.37.

That is adjusted income.
If you own your own home, or have other major deductions, your actual income could be much higher and you would still qualify for the “free” filing stipulations.

And you touched on the subject…you can fill out the entire form and at the very end, it asks, “Do you want to submit this?”
If you hit “no” and log off, it costs you nothing no matter what your income - plus, you will have an on-screen view of how you should fill out your paper tax forms and know exactly if your calculations match up.

But even if you pay, it is still cheaper than buying TurboTax or whatever, which you will use once and then have to buy again next year anyway. And it is WAY cheaper than H&R Block and their ilk for the same procedures.

e-File (TurboTax’s Freedom Project)

For me it’s quick, easy, and free. Unlike TeleFile, I can see right in front of me what the numbers are adding up to and print out confirmations, and unlike paper I don’t have to worry about things going astray in the mail.

<< Yo! >>

That’s interesting about TaxAct, SmackFu. I agree it doesn’t make sense, but what the hey.

To me, having TurboTax on my computer (versus doing it online at for half price) is worth it, because all the info is there, in a convenient form, where I can always get my hands on it, as well as having the paper copies in my files.

And DMark, you’re right that even if I pay, the online services through the IRS link are still cheaper than Turbo. (And way cheaper than H&R Block or whoever, but for me, that’s not an option. I’m a former paid tax preparer; I’m not going to farm out my taxes to someone else anytime soon.) But for me, it comes down to a matter of trust.

I’m satisfied that Turbo’s asking me all the right questions and hitting all the little nuances that I would track down, which, given my background, was key. Now that it’s earned my trust on that score, I can oversee what it’s doing a bit more loosely. If I filed my taxes through another electronic service, I’d have to go back to going over their work with a fine-tooth comb. With Turbo, I don’t have to do that anymore.

That’s me personally, though, and if I wasn’t so persnickety, I’d probably give TaxAct a spin; my AGI’s definitely in their range. And I am glad to see that the IRS has made online tax filing free for most people, and really really cheap for everyone else who wants it. I think that’s a real step forward.

I’m a paid tax preparer - and I’ve e-filed for the last 5 years or so. Yeah, it’s $17.95 through Turbo Tax, but I get my money in 14 days or less. As long as you don’t use a bulk preparer (read H&R, JacksonHewitt, etc) as your paid preparer, most offer e-filing at no extra charge. You can even have the money you owe automatically charged to a credit card or from your bank account (although we don’t advise it ~ just seems wrong).

For me, TurboTax takes longer because I don’t need to walk though all the questions - I know what my answer is - and since I don’t really trust TurboTax with all the details, I run it on my own tax software twice (once in our Planner, and once in the actual tax program). I figure if I get the same number 3 times, it must be right.

But, my tax software has the option of filing electronically - I just don’t at work because of the procedures that we have to go through to get it done. I have filed clients’ returns electronically, and it didn’t take any longer to enter and prepare than were we to file a print version - it’s only the actual printing, mailing, and the procedures we use to make sure it’s verified that the difference as far as preparation time is concerned.

Definately, e-file. Eventually (or so I’ve heard), the IRS will make it mandatory for all filers.

I use TurboTax on my own computer for several reasons:

  1. I trust that it is doing them correctly.

  2. I am a tax professional of sorts, in that I prepare returns as a nifty little side job come February each year. I need my own program for that. TurboTax manuals specifically allow that, BTW.

  3. As a lawyer, my standing among my peers goes up the more trees I destroy. Really, though, I just like having paper copies for my own files.