What Is E-File?

Learn the Basics of E-File for Income Taxes

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What Is E-File?

E-File is the term for electronic filing, or sending your income tax return from tax software via the Internet to the IRS or state tax authority. It's simple and efficient and has become increasingly popular since it was introduced nationally in 1990. In 2015, nearly 90 percent of federal taxes were filed electronically. 

Is E-Filing Your Taxes Safe?

Yes, filing your taxes electronically is actually more secure than snail-mailing your filing to the IRS.

There is less chance that the data contained within your tax documents will be compromised, as it's encrypted when sent electronically. 

The Many Benefits of E-Filing Your Taxes

The benefits of filing taxes electronically over mailing in your return are numerous. From convenience to speed to accuracy, e-filing has become the most popular way to file for American taxpayers, and with good reason. 

E-Filing Is Easy

With e-filing, you can file your taxes from anywhere, including the comfort of your own couch. Tax data can be sent any time before the deadline, day or night, according to your own schedule. All popular tax software programs have e-file options, and there are even apps, such as TurboTax SnapTax, that allow you to file directly from your smartphone. The IRS also has an official app, IRS2GO, which allows you to track your tax filings once they've been submitted. 

E-Filing Is Faster

When you file electronically, you don't have to bother with making copies, purchasing stamps or heading to the post office.

Once the documents are ready, you simply click a button on your computer to send them directly to the IRS. Also, the IRS processes electronically submitted taxes more quickly, usually within three weeks. Any refunds can be deposited directly into your preferred bank account, meaning you get your money back more quickly.


E-Filing Is More Accurate

Because the tax software programs do the math for you, the chance of a mathematical error on your returns is greatly reduced. 

Higher Refunds

Many online filers report that it's easier to take advantage of tax credits and tax deductions when they e-file. This may lead to higher refunds or lower tax bills.

E-Filing Is Cheaper 

Because e-filling simplifies the tax preparation process, you may be able to forego hiring an accountant or tax service to prepare your taxes for you. This could save you $100 or more. Invest in a good tax software program and you'll be on your way to savings. Additionally, e-filed returns cost 20 times less to process compared to a paper return, which saves tax payers a lot of money.

Maintain Your Tax History 

E-filing allows you to keep an ongoing record of all your returns. No more digging through files to locate your tax returns from three years ago. Having your tax history at your fingertips can also make forward financial planning easier.


Given the ease and accuracy of electronic filing, it's no surprise that it's become so popular. E-filing can be done from a number of desktop or online tax software titles, and there is free tax software that includes federal e-File.

Now that you know what e-File is, find out if you should e-File your tax return.

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