taxes: e-file vs. paper

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datamonkee
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taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by datamonkee » Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:49 am

Question:
Are there any advantages of filing one's taxes via e-file vs. paper return?

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oldcomputerguy
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by oldcomputerguy » Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:56 am

datamonkee wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:49 am
Question:
Are there any advantages of filing one's taxes via e-file vs. paper return?
A paper return has to be carried to the IRS by the Post Office and has to be manually entered into their computers at the other end, so I would imagine that filing electronically would theoretically speed up one's return. Of course, if you owe a payment, delay is your friend.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

jebmke
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by jebmke » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:19 am

e-filing is faster and probably more accurate.
oldcomputerguy wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:56 am
Of course, if you owe a payment, delay is your friend.
The timing of your payment does not depend on the timing of your filing.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

rkhusky
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by rkhusky » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:23 am

Depending on your income, you may have to pay to e-file. Some people pay for tax-prep software, which can include free e-file.

Or you can download fillable pdf's or obtain paper forms and mail your paper return for the cost of postage.

frugalmama
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by frugalmama » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:24 am

There are particular instances when the IRS program (free fillable forms) for e-filing doesn't work right as it can't handle your situation and it won't generate another form for you - i.e. too many dependents is one for sure. If you fall in one of those situations, paper is better as your return will keep getting thrown back when you try to efile even if it doesn't make a difference in your tax. However, you will know if you fit in those situations. Otherwise, I'd e-file for sure due to the delay and the cost of postage.

oldfatguy
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by oldfatguy » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:26 am

rkhusky wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:23 am
Depending on your income, you may have to pay to e-file. Some people pay for tax-prep software, which can include free e-file.

Or you can download fillable pdf's or obtain paper forms and mail your paper return for the cost of postage.
For federal returns, anyone can file electronically using freefilefillableforms.com (unless you need particular forms it doesn't support). Some states also provide free e-filing, regardless of income, but not all do.

seawolf21
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by seawolf21 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:34 am

jebmke wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:19 am
e-filing is faster and probably more accurate.
oldcomputerguy wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:56 am
Of course, if you owe a payment, delay is your friend.
The timing of your payment does not depend on the timing of your filing.
I agree. IME, they just deposit the check the moment they open the envelope. Keying in could be weeks later.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:41 am

seawolf21 wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:34 am
jebmke wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:19 am
e-filing is faster and probably more accurate.
oldcomputerguy wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:56 am
Of course, if you owe a payment, delay is your friend.
The timing of your payment does not depend on the timing of your filing.
I agree. IME, they just deposit the check the moment they open the envelope. Keying in could be weeks later.
You don't have to pay when you file, you can have the IRS take the money from your account on the due date, or you can pay by check on/by the due date. We file electronically as early as possible, but hold payment until the due date.

annielouise
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by annielouise » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:45 am

I would not want to trust USPS with something so important. Since we started getting the informed delivery emails, we find that one third to one half of that mail never shows up in our mailbox. That doesn't even include the items that never made it to the point where they show up in our email.

jebmke
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by jebmke » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:46 am

seawolf21 wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:34 am
jebmke wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:19 am
e-filing is faster and probably more accurate.
oldcomputerguy wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:56 am
Of course, if you owe a payment, delay is your friend.
The timing of your payment does not depend on the timing of your filing.
I agree. IME, they just deposit the check the moment they open the envelope. Keying in could be weeks later.
or vice versa. You can file in February and pay in April. You can even pay without filing. They will gladly take your money.

Personally, I prefer to pay in April and file in October.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

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oldcomputerguy
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by oldcomputerguy » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:49 am

jebmke wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:19 am
e-filing is faster and probably more accurate.
oldcomputerguy wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:56 am
Of course, if you owe a payment, delay is your friend.
The timing of your payment does not depend on the timing of your filing.
Really? I always figured it was pretty much first-come, first-served. I'm surprised.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

jebmke
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by jebmke » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:59 am

oldcomputerguy wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:49 am
jebmke wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:19 am
e-filing is faster and probably more accurate.
oldcomputerguy wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:56 am
Of course, if you owe a payment, delay is your friend.
The timing of your payment does not depend on the timing of your filing.
Really? I always figured it was pretty much first-come, first-served. I'm surprised.
Why? I pay most of my tax bill in quarterly payments. The rest I pay in April. I file my return in September or October. One year I even filed in January of the following year (that required a special extension from the IRS due to extenuating circumstances).

Some people who don't have the money to pay file their returns on time and pay in installments after the April filing deadline is well past.

The IRS wants you to file on time (by October 15) and pay on time (the definition of this varies but normally not later than mid-April). Beyond that you can uncouple these two events as you like. They really don't care.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

seawolf21
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by seawolf21 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:03 am

NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:41 am
seawolf21 wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:34 am
jebmke wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:19 am
e-filing is faster and probably more accurate.
oldcomputerguy wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:56 am
Of course, if you owe a payment, delay is your friend.
The timing of your payment does not depend on the timing of your filing.
I agree. IME, they just deposit the check the moment they open the envelope. Keying in could be weeks later.
You don't have to pay when you file, you can have the IRS take the money from your account on the due date, or you can pay by check on/by the due date. We file electronically as early as possible, but hold payment until the due date.
jebmke wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:46 am
seawolf21 wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:34 am
jebmke wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:19 am
e-filing is faster and probably more accurate.
oldcomputerguy wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:56 am
Of course, if you owe a payment, delay is your friend.
The timing of your payment does not depend on the timing of your filing.
I agree. IME, they just deposit the check the moment they open the envelope. Keying in could be weeks later.
or vice versa. You can file in February and pay in April. You can even pay without filing. They will gladly take your money.

Personally, I prefer to pay in April and file in October.
If you include a check, they will deposit it.

SRenaeP
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by SRenaeP » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:50 am

annielouise wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:45 am
I would not want to trust USPS with something so important. Since we started getting the informed delivery emails, we find that one third to one half of that mail never shows up in our mailbox. That doesn't even include the items that never made it to the point where they show up in our email.
Have you been reporting this to the USPS? Did anything ever come of it?

jebmke
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by jebmke » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:59 am

seawolf21 wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:03 am
If you include a check, they will deposit it.
That is why direct debit, direct pay or EFTPS are better solutions. You can control the exact time that the debit hits your bank.

You can even paper file at the time of your choice and make the payment at the time of your choice. Even if you pay by check there is no rule that you have to include the check at the time you file your return. Even before I started using EFTPS I sent them my payments in April (if I owed) and filed my return in October. If you don't mind paying a penalty and interest you can even pay after April 17.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

annielouise
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by annielouise » Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:42 pm

SRenaeP wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:50 am
annielouise wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:45 am
I would not want to trust USPS with something so important. Since we started getting the informed delivery emails, we find that one third to one half of that mail never shows up in our mailbox. That doesn't even include the items that never made it to the point where they show up in our email.
Have you been reporting this to the USPS? Did anything ever come of it?
Reported: yes.
Anything come of it: It got worse!

SRenaeP
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by SRenaeP » Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:54 pm

annielouise wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:42 pm
SRenaeP wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:50 am
annielouise wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:45 am
I would not want to trust USPS with something so important. Since we started getting the informed delivery emails, we find that one third to one half of that mail never shows up in our mailbox. That doesn't even include the items that never made it to the point where they show up in our email.
Have you been reporting this to the USPS? Did anything ever come of it?
Reported: yes.
Anything come of it: It got worse!
Ugh. We've been having issues with our mail as well with no resolution. I was hoping you'd had a positive outcome.

datamonkee
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by datamonkee » Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:37 am

thanks for the insights.

is there any security benefits of one over the other? My understanding of paper returns is that they get manually entered into the same IRS electronic system where e-file returns go. Is this correct.

Also, if i e-file via HRblock or turbotax, does HRblock or turbotax have a copy of my information on their computers?

palaheel
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by palaheel » Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:44 am

Are there differences in auditing rates between electronic and paper returns? Many years ago I heard that electronic returns had a slightly higher chance of being audited.
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maniminto
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by maniminto » Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:16 pm

I use TurboTax, but do not efile.
Primary reason: I have no idea which worksheets and information is being sent with efile.
If I could review the forms that were being transmitted and they were not editable, I would opt for efiling.

fantasytensai
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by fantasytensai » Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:23 pm

palaheel wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:44 am
Are there differences in auditing rates between electronic and paper returns? Many years ago I heard that electronic returns had a slightly higher chance of being audited.
I believe it was a rumor, but some swear by it.

talzara
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by talzara » Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:51 pm

fantasytensai wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:23 pm
palaheel wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:44 am
Are there differences in auditing rates between electronic and paper returns? Many years ago I heard that electronic returns had a slightly higher chance of being audited.
I believe it was a rumor, but some swear by it.
There is no change in audit risk if you e-file.

The IRS policy is to extract only the lines that are keyed in from a paper return. Only the extract is available to the computer that calculates the Discriminant Index Function for selecting audits.

The rest of the e-filed return is stored away and never seen again unless you're audited. If that happens, the examiner will pull the full e-filed return to see all of the lines that were not extracted. This is no different than pulling the full paper return to see the lines that weren't keyed in.

talzara
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by talzara » Fri Mar 30, 2018 1:30 pm

maniminto wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:16 pm
I use TurboTax, but do not efile.
Primary reason: I have no idea which worksheets and information is being sent with efile.
If I could review the forms that were being transmitted and they were not editable, I would opt for efiling.
For the most part, e-filing only sends the information that's on the paper return. Every data field is mapped to a line on an IRS form or schedule. Attached statements, however, are free-form.

The problem is that this is all hidden. You just have to trust that the tax software did it right. I've seen bugs where the software wouldn't print a particular form. Is this only a printing bug, or it is also missing from the e-filed return? I couldn't tell, because I couldn't see what was being e-filed.

The Canadian system is much better. The government has defined the .tax file format, which Canadian tax software can generate. This is the exact file that gets sent to the government, so you can see what's in it. You can even save a .tax file to your hard drive and then upload it directly to the Canada Revenue Agency. They now have direct e-filing, though, so I don't know how much longer they'll keep it around.

rkhusky
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by rkhusky » Fri Mar 30, 2018 8:12 pm

talzara wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 1:30 pm
You can even save a .tax file to your hard drive and then upload it directly to the Canada Revenue Agency.
If the US IRS had this capability, I would e-file. I object to having to pay someone, buy software, or have my data pass through another entity, in order to file taxes. I would be happy if the IRS set up a drop box to upload fillable pdf's.

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munemaker
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by munemaker » Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:07 pm

datamonkee wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:49 am
Question:
Are there any advantages of filing one's taxes via e-file vs. paper return?
When I am due a refund, I efile so I receive it faster.

When I owe, I mail a paper return so I pay it (a little) later.

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dwickenh
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by dwickenh » Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:23 pm

munemaker wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:07 pm
datamonkee wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:49 am
Question:
Are there any advantages of filing one's taxes via e-file vs. paper return?
When I am due a refund, I efile so I receive it faster.

When I owe, I mail a paper return so I pay it (a little) later.
You can e-file and designate mail payment if you owe. It does not have to be direct debit from your account when you file.

e-file refund payment is 7-10 days as a direct deposit most of the time. Mail refund is 3-5 weeks on e-file and longer on a paper return.

e-filed 38 returns today with 2 other tax prep peeps without a hitch.
The market is the most efficient mechanism anywhere in the world for transferring wealth from impatient people to patient people.” | — Warren Buffett

jebmke
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by jebmke » Sat Mar 31, 2018 12:06 am

dwickenh wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:23 pm
You can e-file and designate mail payment if you owe. It does not have to be direct debit from your account when you file.

e-file refund payment is 7-10 days as a direct deposit most of the time. Mail refund is 3-5 weeks on e-file and longer on a paper return.
You can also get your refund early and file late. I get my refund in December every year when I true up my estimated payments. I typically don't file until September or October.

The cash flow and filing cycle are largely disconnected with tax filing.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

gd
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by gd » Sat Mar 31, 2018 6:23 am

fantasytensai wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:23 pm
I believe it was a rumor, but some swear by it.
I believe you have caught the essence of current-day American culture in a single line. :D

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munemaker
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by munemaker » Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:24 am

dwickenh wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:23 pm

You can e-file and designate mail payment if you owe. It does not have to be direct debit from your account when you file.
Yes, you can, but why? If you have to mail in a payment, you may as well mail the return with it. What would be the benefit?

jebmke
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by jebmke » Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:29 am

munemaker wrote:
Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:24 am
dwickenh wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:23 pm

You can e-file and designate mail payment if you owe. It does not have to be direct debit from your account when you file.
Yes, you can, but why? If you have to mail in a payment, you may as well mail the return with it. What would be the benefit?
if you are a procrastinator like me you can pay in December (or at least by April 17) and file your return in October. You don't even have to prepare a return to make a payment, much less file it.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

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munemaker
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by munemaker » Sat Mar 31, 2018 12:35 pm

jebmke wrote:
Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:29 am
munemaker wrote:
Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:24 am
dwickenh wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:23 pm

You can e-file and designate mail payment if you owe. It does not have to be direct debit from your account when you file.
Yes, you can, but why? If you have to mail in a payment, you may as well mail the return with it. What would be the benefit?
if you are a procrastinator like me you can pay in December (or at least by April 17) and file your return in October. You don't even have to prepare a return to make a payment, much less file it.
Don't you still have to true up the refund/payment when you file? If you know the exact amount in December, why wouldn't you file then?

Maybe my situation is just so simple and I don't have an appreciation for others' more complex situations.

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dwickenh
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by dwickenh » Sat Mar 31, 2018 2:00 pm

munemaker wrote:
Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:24 am
dwickenh wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:23 pm

You can e-file and designate mail payment if you owe. It does not have to be direct debit from your account when you file.
Yes, you can, but why? If you have to mail in a payment, you may as well mail the return with it. What would be the benefit?
Free tax preparation and free e-file since you are 85 years old and don't own a computer. You get a voucher to mail in with the payment which you now have 2 months to save up(from your SS checks) since you had your taxes completed in early February.

This is one case but I am sure there are many more.
The market is the most efficient mechanism anywhere in the world for transferring wealth from impatient people to patient people.” | — Warren Buffett

talzara
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by talzara » Sat Mar 31, 2018 2:14 pm

rkhusky wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 8:12 pm
If the US IRS had this capability, I would e-file. I object to having to pay someone, buy software, or have my data pass through another entity, in order to file taxes. I would be happy if the IRS set up a drop box to upload fillable pdf's.
In 2002, the IRS agreed not to provide e-filing services directly to the public.
During the term of this Agreement, the IRS will not compete with the Consortium in providing free, online tax return preparation and filing services to taxpayers.

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/2002-fr ... eement.pdf
This agreement was renewed in 2015 for a 5-year term, so it is still in effect.

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cfs
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by cfs » Sat Mar 31, 2018 2:23 pm

Everything I send to the IRS and to Sacramento is in the form of paper, this includes my quarterly tax payments, nothing in electronic form. Yes, I know, I can file electronically but I don't want to. My tax packages for the IRS and to Sacramento will be in the US Mail two weeks from today. Making my federal and state tax collecting friends do some work and if they make their mistakes so be it. Good luck with your electronic or paper taxes, y gracias por leer ~cfs~
~ Member of the Active Retired Force since 2014 ~

jebmke
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by jebmke » Sat Mar 31, 2018 2:57 pm

munemaker wrote:
Sat Mar 31, 2018 12:35 pm
Don't you still have to true up the refund/payment when you file? If you know the exact amount in December, why wouldn't you file then?
I generally don't know the exact number in December but I have typically been within a couple hundred dollars. By April I am pretty close. I wait for a couple of reasons. I am normally busy during tax season - I do a dozen or so returns per week. I like to let my brain clear out before I finalize mine. I also like to wait until the risk of a revised 1099 or revised brokerage statement is past.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

rkhusky
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by rkhusky » Sat Mar 31, 2018 3:03 pm

talzara wrote:
Sat Mar 31, 2018 2:14 pm
rkhusky wrote:
Fri Mar 30, 2018 8:12 pm
If the US IRS had this capability, I would e-file. I object to having to pay someone, buy software, or have my data pass through another entity, in order to file taxes. I would be happy if the IRS set up a drop box to upload fillable pdf's.
In 2002, the IRS agreed not to provide e-filing services directly to the public.
During the term of this Agreement, the IRS will not compete with the Consortium in providing free, online tax return preparation and filing services to taxpayers.

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/2002-fr ... eement.pdf
This agreement was renewed in 2015 for a 5-year term, so it is still in effect.
Yes, that was unfortunate. The argument that the government should not compete with private enterprise is nonsense since they do it all the time in other areas. Perhaps it won’t be renewed next time. And they wouldn’t have to develop a competitor to Turbotax, just a way to directly accept a pdf or text file.

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munemaker
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by munemaker » Sat Mar 31, 2018 11:25 pm

jebmke wrote:
Sat Mar 31, 2018 2:57 pm
munemaker wrote:
Sat Mar 31, 2018 12:35 pm
Don't you still have to true up the refund/payment when you file? If you know the exact amount in December, why wouldn't you file then?
I generally don't know the exact number in December but I have typically been within a couple hundred dollars. By April I am pretty close. I wait for a couple of reasons. I am normally busy during tax season - I do a dozen or so returns per week. I like to let my brain clear out before I finalize mine. I also like to wait until the risk of a revised 1099 or revised brokerage statement is past.
So, getting back to my original point, even if you have to write a check for $2 when you file your return, you still have to send in a payment so why not just mail your printed return with the payment.

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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by jebmke » Sun Apr 01, 2018 8:13 am

I don't use checks. If I owe money I go log in EFTPS and initiate a transfer. If I still owe money in April, I set this up at the same time I set up my quarterly estimated tax payments schedule.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

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legio XX
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by legio XX » Sun Apr 01, 2018 8:51 am

I'm just sticking with what I'm used to - paper and pencil. When I'm through erasing I fill out the clean copies in ink and send them off. This year there was $$ owing :annoyed so I sent a check and sprang for certified w return receipt.

While it might be useful to have a program check my numbers, I'm used to this method and it's a simple return w only a couple of schedules. The most miserable calculation is how much SS is taxable while I like seeing how little of the capital gains are. I check the numbers and if they come out the same twice I assume it's OK and mail it and then sigh and sit back :beer

Don't know how long this will last though. There is definitely an effort to get people to e-file, but I am less rather than more comfortable about letting it all hang out electronically.

PO problems: only one item genuinely lost in recent memory. Still can't be sure if it was the PO or the payment center that ate the check, but no one cashed it, and it didn't cause other problems so . . .

Vic

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Tamarind
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by Tamarind » Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:09 am

oldfatguy wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:26 am
rkhusky wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:23 am
Depending on your income, you may have to pay to e-file. Some people pay for tax-prep software, which can include free e-file.

Or you can download fillable pdf's or obtain paper forms and mail your paper return for the cost of postage.
For federal returns, anyone can file electronically using freefilefillableforms.com (unless you need particular forms it doesn't support). Some states also provide free e-filing, regardless of income, but not all do.
I love e-filing with free fillable forms. For one thing, if you have made any math errors, they will reject the return, usually within 24; hours. It's much more transparent than using a tax program. And you can get your refund much faster than paper. It's always free for federal.

Unless you need more help than the instructions or have a scenario fillable forms can't handle, it can't be beat for convenience and value.

obgraham
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by obgraham » Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:51 pm

I just can't understand why anyone would prefer to send in paper returns, when e-filing is so much easier, and you get an immediate acknowledgement that your return was in fact filed.
I always owe -- haven't had a refund for 25 years. As always, this year IRS will take their money by direct debit on April 17, and not a minute before.

RetiredCSProf
Posts: 191
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by RetiredCSProf » Wed Apr 04, 2018 12:27 am

A few years ago, my sister was required to file by paper rather than e-file due to an identity-theft issue. I don't know the details.

bklyn96
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Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2015 8:12 am

Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by bklyn96 » Wed Apr 04, 2018 5:20 am

It's e-file for us. Years ago we used to file paper returns but that was before an IRS data entry error overstated our income and provoked a bill for unpaid taxes along with a first-ever audit. It took 18 months and working with the IRS taxpayer advocate to get everything straightened out...there was absolutely nothing wrong with our original paper return.

rkhusky
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by rkhusky » Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:35 am

obgraham wrote:
Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:51 pm
I just can't understand why anyone would prefer to send in paper returns, when e-filing is so much easier, and you get an immediate acknowledgement that your return was in fact filed.
I always owe -- haven't had a refund for 25 years. As always, this year IRS will take their money by direct debit on April 17, and not a minute before.
I prefer filing directly with the IRS and state. And I find filing a paper return quite easy using the pdf's provided by the IRS. I imagine the forms are formatted so that they can scan the paper right into an electronic file, with minimal manual data entry.

I also arrange to owe every year and use the cashing of my check as an indication that the IRS or state received my return. I also don't mind the 50 cents or so in postage or the few cents in interest that I may have lost by paying a few weeks early.

I also note that the web site for freefilefillableforms, which would be my choice if I chose to e-file, appears to be run by Intuit.

jebmke
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by jebmke » Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:44 am

rkhusky wrote:
Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:35 am
I prefer filing directly with the IRS and state. And I find filing a paper return quite easy using the pdf's provided by the IRS. I imagine the forms are formatted so that they can scan the paper right into an electronic file, with minimal manual data entry.
I thought so too but in another thread earlier this year I was informed that the process is manual. Perhaps they even offshore the keypunching. I certainly would if I had no automation to replace the manual labor.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

rkhusky
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by rkhusky » Wed Apr 04, 2018 8:18 am

jebmke wrote:
Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:44 am
rkhusky wrote:
Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:35 am
I prefer filing directly with the IRS and state. And I find filing a paper return quite easy using the pdf's provided by the IRS. I imagine the forms are formatted so that they can scan the paper right into an electronic file, with minimal manual data entry.
I thought so too but in another thread earlier this year I was informed that the process is manual. Perhaps they even offshore the keypunching. I certainly would if I had no automation to replace the manual labor.
That's sad, given there is commercial software for doing just that:
https://www.wisetrend.com/products/wise ... xicapture/
https://www.abbyy.com/en-us/casestudies ... rocessing/
http://www.cpapracticeadvisor.com/artic ... on-systems

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House Blend
Posts: 4517
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by House Blend » Wed Apr 04, 2018 9:48 am

rkhusky wrote:
Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:35 am
obgraham wrote:
Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:51 pm
I just can't understand why anyone would prefer to send in paper returns, when e-filing is so much easier, and you get an immediate acknowledgement that your return was in fact filed.
I always owe -- haven't had a refund for 25 years. As always, this year IRS will take their money by direct debit on April 17, and not a minute before.
I prefer filing directly with the IRS and state. And I find filing a paper return quite easy using the pdf's provided by the IRS. I imagine the forms are formatted so that they can scan the paper right into an electronic file, with minimal manual data entry.

I also arrange to owe every year and use the cashing of my check as an indication that the IRS or state received my return. I also don't mind the 50 cents or so in postage or the few cents in interest that I may have lost by paying a few weeks early.

I also note that the web site for freefilefillableforms, which would be my choice if I chose to e-file, appears to be run by Intuit.
+1.

My local post office is about a block and a half from my office. I always paper file from there, and include a paper check inside the envelope. When the check gets cashed, I know that someone received it. I'm well aware that this is not proof that the *IRS* received it, or that it was credited to my account, but I'm fine with that when the check is for smallish amounts. If I owed $10,000, I'd probably do an e-payment of $9,900, and mail a paper check with my return for the remaining $100.

I reject e-filing for multiple reasons, the primary one being that I don't want an extra layer of software between me and the tax forms. That's another layer of bugs and quirks and limitations.

Along those lines, I would seriously consider e-filing via Freefile Fillable Forms (the software layer appears to be minimal) but the particular forms and schedules I have to file make me ineligible.

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House Blend
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Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by House Blend » Wed Apr 04, 2018 9:59 am

jebmke wrote:
Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:44 am
rkhusky wrote:
Wed Apr 04, 2018 7:35 am
I imagine the forms are formatted so that they can scan the paper right into an electronic file, with minimal manual data entry.
I thought so too but in another thread earlier this year I was informed that the process is manual. Perhaps they even offshore the keypunching. I certainly would if I had no automation to replace the manual labor.
Might be, although I would guess the way they handle paper returns is evolving. Presumably the percentage of paper filed returns is dropping steadily.

I do have one datum that supports the theory that it is manual, although it is from 5-ish years ago:

The first sign of trouble was a letter from the IRS demanding a few $K in unpaid taxes. There were enough clues in the letter for me to diagnose that they thought I had reported $0 in qualified dividends, when in fact I had reported ~$20K. While I never saw an actual transcript of my return, my presumption is that the transcriber overlooked the amount on line 9b. Fortunately I was able to resolve the problem with a phone call, but it did waste an hour or two of my time.

scrabbler1
Posts: 2243
Joined: Fri Nov 20, 2009 2:39 pm

Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by scrabbler1 » Wed Apr 04, 2018 10:03 am

I use paper. But there is a significant difference between the feds and how my state (NY) handles its fillable pdf files for its forms. The feds it is pretty simple, as expected. I enter the numbers, print out the forms, sign them and mail them out, along with any payment. I am allowed to handwrite stuff I may have left out, such as the date and other, non-tax stuff such as the check box for the $3 for the presidential campaign fund.

But the NY forms are different. Many of the fields are calculated based on other data entered, which makes the return much easier to complete. But there are strict instructions not to make any edits after the return is completed other than adding the signature. Apparently, the file's print routine, separate from the regular print routine Adobe uses, creates some bar code which is scanned into the state's computers. Forms such as the W-2 and 1099-R forms are standardized, as the taxpayer has to enter the state-relevant data into them and print them the same way.

NY highly encourages taxpayers to e-file, but ironically, the added ease of completing the forms this way seems to discourage me from doing that.

dknightd
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2018 11:57 am

Re: taxes: e-file vs. paper

Post by dknightd » Wed Apr 04, 2018 10:08 am

I'm lazy. I use efile

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