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After e-File for Business, IRS Opened Free e-File for Individual

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After opening e-file for business last week, today IRS has successfully opened e-file system—which is free for individual.

The IRS, since 2003, has actually offered ‘low-to-moderate income’ taxpayers free access to leading online commercial tax preparation system. In 2012, partnering with a coalition of tax software companies named “Free File Alliance,” every taxpayer with a 2011 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $57,000 or less may visit to prepare, complete and e-file their federal tax returns for free.

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With this achievement, obviously that IRS encourages tax payers to use e-file, though, as there are many advantages they can get by using e-file, i.e.:

(a) Using the latest encryption technology, electronic filing has proven itself as a safe and secure method of filing a tax return, as IRS noted;

(b) Using electronic return, within 48 hours, an electronic acknowledgement is issued that the return has been received by the IRS and either accepted or rejected;

(c) E-filing and direct deposit has been proven as the fastest way to get a refund. Taxpayers can get their money automatically in 10 days; and

(d) Taxpayers that owe taxes, e-file offers payment alternatives such as filing now and scheduling payment on the April tax deadline.

Where and how to start the free e-file?

Once you’re visiting IRS Web site [here]—where the free file stored, you will find a list of Free File Alliance’s member companies and you may choose the one that fits your needs. After selecting a tax software company, you will be transferred to the company’s website to prepare, complete and electronically file your federal income tax returns.

As a tax payer, you can, however, e-file your tax returns one of the following three ways:

(a) Through a tax return preparer; or
(b) Through self-preparation software; or
(c) Through IRS Free File

In case if you decide to do e-file through paid tax return preparers, IRS is encouraging taxpayers to use tax return preparers who offer IRS e-file. (Note: Starting this filing season, any paid preparer who prepares and files more than 10 returns for clients generally must file the returns electronically).

The IRS, however, warned that you should only use paid preparers who sign the returns they prepare and enter their PTINs. Note that although the paid preparers sign returns, you as a taxpayer are legally responsible for the accuracy of every item on your return. Preparers are also required to give taxpayers a copy of their returns.

Other important notes:

  • When using e-file, you have to also use an e-signature and an “electronic filing PIN”—a temporary PIN used by the IRS to verify your identity when e-filing. So if you prepare your own return using software, you have to use the “self-select PIN” method on the return.
  • When using a paid preparer, you can still use the “self-select PIN” method or the “practitioner PIN” method. The electronic filing PIN is a temporary PIN used by the IRS to verify a taxpayer’s identity when e-filing.

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