paper tax returns

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mouses
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Joined: Sat Oct 24, 2015 12:24 am

paper tax returns

Post by mouses »

Paper federal tax returns are still in quarantine jail, according to the IRS website. (I thought I had heard recently that some processing of them had started up.)

I really like to do my taxes by hand, but sending them in electronically to the feds (my state is processing paper returns) to avoid stuff like this in the future seems appealing. But I don't want to use some software that makes its own decisions abut things on my return. Is there some way to file my paper returns electronically by faxing or uploading them?

Thanks.
terran
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Re: paper tax returns

Post by terran »

You want Free Fillable Forms. It's basically the pure forms, but you fill them out on a website, it does a little bit of math for you and you can efile.
Topic Author
mouses
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Re: paper tax returns

Post by mouses »

terran wrote: Sat May 30, 2020 7:59 am You want Free Fillable Forms. It's basically the pure forms, but you fill them out on a website, it does a little bit of math for you and you can efile.
Thanks. That looks like it supports all the forms I file. I hope it allows the filed forms to be printed or otherwise downloaded for the taxpayer's records?

It looks like it can't be used for more than $66,000 income. Not sure why that would be.
mega317
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Re: paper tax returns

Post by mega317 »

Software doesn't make any decisions, except maybe to not transcribe a number that was on a worksheet to the form. (See threads about blanks on an 8606 that ends up with the right results anyway.) There is only one right answer at the end and it depends entirely on your input.
https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6212
terran
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Re: paper tax returns

Post by terran »

mouses wrote: Sat May 30, 2020 8:11 am
terran wrote: Sat May 30, 2020 7:59 am You want Free Fillable Forms. It's basically the pure forms, but you fill them out on a website, it does a little bit of math for you and you can efile.
Thanks. That looks like it supports all the forms I file. I hope it allows the filed forms to be printed or otherwise downloaded for the taxpayer's records?

It looks like it can't be used for more than $66,000 income. Not sure why that would be.
Yes, you can (should) download a PDF version of the return for your records. I've also filled it out then printed it to file by mail when I had to attach an IRA recharacterization statement, which I wasn't able to efile. Once you sign up you'll see that there's a "Print Return" button that opens a PDF version of the return that you can save/print.

I'm not sure where you're seeing the $66k income limitation. I suspect you've run across the IRS free file program, which allows people under a $69k AGI limit to file for free using software like Turbotax/Taxact/Etc. Free Fillable Forms is actually intended for people above that income limit who can't file for free using the more commercial software, but given what you're looking for, it's what you want regardless of income.
Rotarman
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Re: paper tax returns

Post by Rotarman »

mouses wrote: Sat May 30, 2020 7:50 am Paper federal tax returns are still in quarantine jail, according to the IRS website. (I thought I had heard recently that some processing of them had started up.)

I really like to do my taxes by hand, but sending them in electronically to the feds (my state is processing paper returns) to avoid stuff like this in the future seems appealing. But I don't want to use some software that makes its own decisions abut things on my return. Is there some way to file my paper returns electronically by faxing or uploading them?

Thanks.
I've done it both paper and with free fillable forms. The free fillable is far superior. For one it saves the 5+ stamps to send all those forms in. My state doesn't have a free electronic version and this year they had to correct my taxes due to a simple arithmetic error on my paper form. Free fillable does all the simple math for you which is nice.
lstone19
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Re: paper tax returns

Post by lstone19 »

mouses wrote: Sat May 30, 2020 7:50 am I really like to do my taxes by hand, but sending them in electronically to the feds (my state is processing paper returns) to avoid stuff like this in the future seems appealing. But I don't want to use some software that makes its own decisions abut things on my return. Is there some way to file my paper returns electronically by faxing or uploading them?
Do them by hand, then do them in tax software. If they don't match, figure out why. There's usually a good reason they don't match and most likely it's because you've made a mistake (either on your paper form or in what you told the software). My opinion is tax software is not "making its own decisions" but rather applying the tax code correctly.

One year, I had a situation that was new to me. When I entered it in TT, it generated a form I did not expect. Researched and found it was, of course, correct. Had I just done it by hand, I would have missed that form and probably had an IRS letter later.
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cheese_breath
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Re: paper tax returns

Post by cheese_breath »

I do my taxes in Excel first, then in TurboTax. Doing it two ways provides a crosscheck to guard against errors, and TT makes sure the right data goes into the right fields on the right forms. I'm not worried about the TT transmissions if their forms look correct.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.
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Stinky
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Re: paper tax returns

Post by Stinky »

Rotarman wrote: Sat May 30, 2020 8:41 am
mouses wrote: Sat May 30, 2020 7:50 am Paper federal tax returns are still in quarantine jail, according to the IRS website. (I thought I had heard recently that some processing of them had started up.)

I really like to do my taxes by hand, but sending them in electronically to the feds (my state is processing paper returns) to avoid stuff like this in the future seems appealing. But I don't want to use some software that makes its own decisions abut things on my return. Is there some way to file my paper returns electronically by faxing or uploading them?

Thanks.
I've done it both paper and with free fillable forms. The free fillable is far superior. For one it saves the 5+ stamps to send all those forms in. My state doesn't have a free electronic version and this year they had to correct my taxes due to a simple arithmetic error on my paper form. Free fillable does all the simple math for you which is nice.
Thanks for the tip on free fillable forms. I've done paper forever, but will give the free fillable a trial this tax season.
It's a GREAT day to be alive! - Travis Tritt
Topic Author
mouses
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Re: paper tax returns

Post by mouses »

lstone19 wrote: Sat May 30, 2020 9:09 am
mouses wrote: Sat May 30, 2020 7:50 am I really like to do my taxes by hand, but sending them in electronically to the feds (my state is processing paper returns) to avoid stuff like this in the future seems appealing. But I don't want to use some software that makes its own decisions abut things on my return. Is there some way to file my paper returns electronically by faxing or uploading them?
Do them by hand, then do them in tax software. If they don't match, figure out why. There's usually a good reason they don't match and most likely it's because you've made a mistake (either on your paper form or in what you told the software). My opinion is tax software is not "making its own decisions" but rather applying the tax code correctly.

One year, I had a situation that was new to me. When I entered it in TT, it generated a form I did not expect. Researched and found it was, of course, correct. Had I just done it by hand, I would have missed that form and probably had an IRS letter later.
In all the decades I've been doing my taxes by hand, both federal and state, I have twice made an arithmetic mistake, so that's 2/approx80 returns or an error rate of 2.5%. Yet I see any number of threads here about tax software problems that are worse than a simple arithmetic mistake, which the IRS catches anyway.
MandyT
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Re: paper tax returns

Post by MandyT »

Stinky wrote: Sat May 30, 2020 9:23 am Thanks for the tip on free fillable forms. I've done paper forever, but will give the free fillable a trial this tax season.
Note: Free File Online is the version that's limited to taxpayers under a certain income. Free File Fillable Forms does not have an income limit; it basically takes input, does simple arithmetic calculations, and expects you to know what forms you need and how to fill them out.

After filing on paper for many years, I switched to Free File Fillable Forms in 2013 and have been very happy with it. Sometimes I've had to wait for Form 8889 or Form 8606 to be made available when the IRS published them on the late side. I downloaded and saved pdf's of my submissions.

I still file my state taxes on paper because there are no free options and I can't think of a good reason to pay to e-file.
rkhusky
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Re: paper tax returns

Post by rkhusky »

Note that you are not dealing directly with the IRS when you use Free Fillable Forms. It is probably still run by Intuit or one of the other tax software companies, who offer it as a way to keep the Government from providing a similar service.
UpperNwGuy
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Re: paper tax returns

Post by UpperNwGuy »

I didn't realize that paper tax returns still existed. I thought everyone used tax software and filed electronically. Why would anyone want to use paper tax returns in today's world?
investing engineer
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Re: paper tax returns

Post by investing engineer »

UpperNwGuy wrote: Sun May 31, 2020 6:40 pm I didn't realize that paper tax returns still existed. I thought everyone used tax software and filed electronically. Why would anyone want to use paper tax returns in today's world?
There are many people who have no choice: https://www.creditkarma.com/tax/i/paper ... ax-return/

In addition, paper filing state tax often saves the state e filing fee by tax software.
gtg970g
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Re: paper tax returns

Post by gtg970g »

investing engineer wrote: Tue Jun 02, 2020 7:38 am There are many people who have no choice: https://www.creditkarma.com/tax/i/paper ... ax-return/

In addition, paper filing state tax often saves the state e filing fee by tax software.
I would add individuals filing taxes for a trust or estate (form 1041) to the list of folks who need to file a paper return. I haven't seen a free 1041 but if someone knows where one exists I would gladly use it next year. I'm still waiting for my $20 check to the IRS to clear.
rkhusky
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Re: paper tax returns

Post by rkhusky »

UpperNwGuy wrote: Sun May 31, 2020 6:40 pm I didn't realize that paper tax returns still existed. I thought everyone used tax software and filed electronically. Why would anyone want to use paper tax returns in today's world?
I arrange to owe every year, so I have no refund to be delayed.
I have my own spreadsheet to do tax planning during the year, so I have no need to pay for tax software.
I prefer filing directly with the IRS.
My paper form will trump any falsely filed e-filed return.

I would file electronically if the IRS enabled the ability without going through a third party and didn’t require the purchase of software. All they would need do is offer an upload site for the .pdf’s that I print and send them. Or provide an open source file format that I could generate from my spreadsheet and provide an upload site for that.
deserat
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Re: paper tax returns

Post by deserat »

rkhusky wrote: Tue Jun 02, 2020 9:55 am
UpperNwGuy wrote: Sun May 31, 2020 6:40 pm I didn't realize that paper tax returns still existed. I thought everyone used tax software and filed electronically. Why would anyone want to use paper tax returns in today's world?
I arrange to owe every year, so I have no refund to be delayed.
I have my own spreadsheet to do tax planning during the year, so I have no need to pay for tax software.
I prefer filing directly with the IRS.
My paper form will trump any falsely filed e-filed return.

I would file electronically if the IRS enabled the ability without going through a third party and didn’t require the purchase of software. All they would need do is offer an upload site for the .pdf’s that I print and send them. Or provide an open source file format that I could generate from my spreadsheet and provide an upload site for that.
This ^^^^^

I find that by doing my forms manually, I get to see how the government (IRS) plays games with math, too. I still calculate and file by paper. Didn't know that the paper returns were in 'jail' this year. Guess I'll have to wait a bit more. Unfortunately due to some new employer financial shenanigans, I'm owed a bit by the IRS this year. Usually, I work to not give them an interest free loan and owe a smidgeon each year. I was not able to file early like I usually do this year.
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Stinky
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Re: paper tax returns

Post by Stinky »

deserat wrote: Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:19 am
rkhusky wrote: Tue Jun 02, 2020 9:55 am
UpperNwGuy wrote: Sun May 31, 2020 6:40 pm I didn't realize that paper tax returns still existed. I thought everyone used tax software and filed electronically. Why would anyone want to use paper tax returns in today's world?
I arrange to owe every year, so I have no refund to be delayed.
I have my own spreadsheet to do tax planning during the year, so I have no need to pay for tax software.
I prefer filing directly with the IRS.
My paper form will trump any falsely filed e-filed return.

I would file electronically if the IRS enabled the ability without going through a third party and didn’t require the purchase of software. All they would need do is offer an upload site for the .pdf’s that I print and send them. Or provide an open source file format that I could generate from my spreadsheet and provide an upload site for that.
This ^^^^^

I find that by doing my forms manually, I get to see how the government (IRS) plays games with math, too. I still calculate and file by paper. Didn't know that the paper returns were in 'jail' this year. Guess I'll have to wait a bit more. Unfortunately due to some new employer financial shenanigans, I'm owed a bit by the IRS this year. Usually, I work to not give them an interest free loan and owe a smidgeon each year. I was not able to file early like I usually do this year.
As discussed up thread, Free Fillable Forms are an option to get your return filed electronically without buying software. That will likely get you a faster refund than filing paper.

I’m in the process of migrating from filing paper forms to FFF. It’s not hard for someone who knows his way around the tax forms to use FFF.
It's a GREAT day to be alive! - Travis Tritt
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