TurboTax / Tax Calculators & Tips / All Tax Guides / IRS Tax Return / Efile: Income Tax Return Electronic Filing

Efile: Income Tax Return Electronic Filing

Updated for Tax Year 2014


OVERVIEW

Forget that paper tax return! Electronic filing (efiling), online tax preparation and online payment of taxes are getting more popular every year. If you've wondered about efiling, here are the answers to frequently asked questions, including why efiling is a good idea, which states let you efile, how much efiling costs, and how soon you'll receive your refund.


Get every deduction you deserve

TurboTax Deluxe searches more than 350 tax deductions and credits so you get your maximum refund, guaranteed.

For only $54.99*
Start for Free

Why e-file?

Here are some reasons why electronic filing makes sense for most taxpayers:

  • Fewer mistakes

    Using tax software such as TurboTax substantially reduces errors. According to the IRS, 20 percent of income tax returns prepared on paper have mistakes, such as missing information or taxes calculated using the wrong tax tables; half of those errors cause folks to overpay their taxes. But only about 1 percent of returns prepared electronically contain errors. If there is a mistake on your return, the IRS can detect it and send back an error report in as few as 48 hours so that you can quickly fix the problem.

  • Speedier preparation

    You can get the job done a lot faster if you tackle it with your computer. Filing from your computer saves you the trip to the post office, too.

  • Faster refunds

    If you send in your return by mail, you can expect to wait up to six weeks for your refund. Efiling your return and electing to have your refund deposited directly into your bank account is the fastest way to get your tax refund. If, however, you still prefer to send the IRS a paper return, TurboTax gives you that option.

How will I know that the IRS has received my tax return?

Ever worry that your return might get lost in the mail? Efiling lets you rest easy. When you send a return by mail, you have no way of knowing if the IRS received your return unless you pay extra for certified mail with a return receipt. It could take weeks for you to get that receipt.

But if you file electronically, the IRS notifies you by email within 48 hours that it has received your return. And if the IRS detects any errors, it will send an error code that TurboTax will translate into a text message telling you what the problem is, how to fix it, and how to retransmit your return.

Can I avoid having to file anything on paper?

You can save more trees than ever using efile. You can now file a completely paperless return, right down to your signature. You can use a self-selected Personal Identification Number (PIN) just as you would at a bank ATM. The PIN is your electronic signature.

Can I efile my state tax return, too?

The following 37 states and the District of Columbia allow you to e-file your state return at the same time you file your federal tax return online from your personal computer. This is called the Federal/State E-file for Taxpayers program. Essentially, you send both returns to the IRS, and the IRS electronically forwards your state return to the tax authority in your state.

Alabama Kansas North Dakota
Arizona Kentucky Ohio
Arkansas Louisiana Oklahoma
Colorado Maryland Oregon
Connecticut Michigan Pennsylvania
Delaware Mississippi Rhode Island
District of Columbia Missouri South Carolina
Georgia Montana Utah
Hawaii Nebraska Vermont
Idaho New Jersey Virginia
Illinois New Mexico West Virginia
Indiana New York Wisconsin
Iowa North Carolina  

A few states allow you to file your state return directly, including California, Maine, Massachusetts and Minnesota.

Will my tax return data be kept confidential?

Yes. You've got no worries about data falling into the wrong hands or being misused because the IRS, the states and tax preparers are under the same rules of confidentiality for efiled returns as they are for paper returns. They may not reveal or discuss any information contained in your return unless you authorize them to do so. Tax software developers also must operate under these rules, and they must protect customer confidentiality during the efiling process. To ensure the integrity of your electronically filed tax return, always use only proven, high-quality efiling software.

Can I efile if I owe money?

Yes. You can still pay with a check sent via snail mail if you prefer. As long as the check is in the mail by the due date of your return the payment is considered to be on time. Or you can advise the IRS to debit your checking or savings account for the amount due. No matter when you file your return, you can tell the IRS not to tap your account until the due date. A third option is to charge the balance due to a credit card. This method will cost you extra money, though; you'll have to pay a "convenience fee" of about 2 percent to the third party that handles the transaction. States are gradually adding these options.

How much does it cost to efile my return electronically?

If you're looking for an excuse not to efile, it isn't cost, because the IRS and states do not charge for efiling. The only costs associated with efiling are those charged by a tax preparer or tax software. Depending on the software brand and version, electronic filing charges have ranged from free to around $25. Tax preparers may charge more.

Both TurboTax Online and TurboTax CD/Download products include federal efile at no additional cost.

If I'm getting a tax refund, when can I expect to receive it?

E-filing will deliver your tax refund much faster than traditional mail. Taxpayers using TurboTax and electing to have their refunds deposited directly into their bank accounts will get their fastest refunds possible.

Refunds from tax returns filed on paper can take up to six weeks, depending on the time of year you file your tax return.

The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.

DAYS left
LAST DAY to file
1 DAY left
to file your taxes by April 15
2014 taxes due today
Start for Free
* Important Offer Details and Disclosures
  • Try for Free/Pay When You File: TurboTax online and mobile pricing is based on your tax situation and varies by product. Actual prices are determined at the time of print or efile and are subject to change without notice. Special discount offers may not be valid for mobile in-app purchases.
  • TurboTax CD/Download products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal efile of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees apply for efiling state returns. E-file fees do not apply to New York state returns. Prices subject to change without notice.
  • TurboTax Mobile: Actual prices are determined at the time of print or efile and are subject to change without notice. Come back here before you file to confirm that the price has not changed, especially if it's been a while since you downloaded this app.
  • Anytime, anywhere: Internet access required; standard message and data rates apply to download and use mobile app features and content. TurboTax mobile app devices supported include Android 4.1 and above, iOS 8 on iPhone 4s and above, and iPad 2.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with efile and direct deposit; tax refund timeframes will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: A $34.99 Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice.
  • About our TurboTax Product Experts: Customer service and product support (phone or chat) vary by time of year. Phone support not included with Free Edition.
  • About our credentialed tax experts: Live tax advice service is available for your toughest tax questions; fees may apply. Service, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice. Click here for full terms and conditions. Not available for TurboTax Business customers.
  • Get up to 10% on top of your federal refund: Amazon.com Gift Card offer is for federal refunds only. Limits apply ($2000 per e-card, maximum $10,000 per customer). Offer available only for TurboTax Online (except Federal Free Edition) or CD/download versions sold and shipped, or downloaded directly from Intuit or Amazon. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards cannot be canceled, transferred for value or redeemed for cash.

    Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ('GCs') cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2013 TurboTax products.
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars: Average based on customer ratings on TurboTax.com for TurboTax Online and CD/download products tax year 2014, as of January 2015.
  • Most Popular: TurboTax Deluxe is our most popular product among TurboTax Online users with more complex tax situations.
  • TurboTax CD/Download priority phone support: Priority phone support for TurboTax CD/Download Premier and Home & Business is accessible exclusively via the TurboTax.com Help Center.
  • Benefit Assist: After you file, TurboTax automatically shows you a full list of government benefits you may qualify for, like Food Stamps or reduced phone & utilities. Plus, we help you apply, saving you time and making it easier than ever to get more money! Estimate based on calculation of Benefit Assist users from tax year 2013 and published reports of average benefit and savings amounts from federal and state programs. Actual amounts and qualifications based on your individual situation; some individuals will not qualify. Feature may not be available for all customers.
  • Simplified State Experience: New, simplified state tax preparation available for most filers.
  • Eligibility for $25 cash back for returning Deluxe customers: Customers who have completed their 2013 taxes in TurboTax Deluxe (CD or download), and have completed their 2014 taxes in either TurboTax Premier or TurboTax Home & Business (CD or download), and apply here before 11:59PM PDT April 20, 2015, are eligible for $25 back. 2014 TurboTax Advantage users are ineligible for this offer. Terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.
  • $0 Upgrade Offer: Valid for customers who filed their 2013 taxes with TurboTax Deluxe (CD or download), completed prior year data transfer this year, and encounter an upgrade to either 2014 TurboTax Premier or 2014 TurboTax Home & Business (CD or download). Valid February 6, 2015 through April 20, 2015. TurboTax Advantage users are ineligible for this offer. This offer may not be combined with our $25 cash back offer. Terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.