4 Reasons to File Your Taxes Electronically

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Here's why you're better off skipping the paper return.

Key points

  • The IRS will accept tax returns electronically and on paper.
  • Going the electronic route can help you avoid errors and potentially enjoy a faster refund and added savings.

Tax season is now in full swing, and while you don't have to get your taxes in until April 18, it pays to get working on your return well before that deadline. The sooner you complete your taxes, the sooner you can expect any refund you're due to hit your bank account. Having that money could come in handy given how expensive living costs have gotten these days.

You have two choices when filing your taxes. You could fill out a paper return and mail it to the IRS, or you could file your taxes electronically using software that, depending on your situation, you either pay a modest fee for or access for free.

If you're used to doing your taxes on paper, you may be inclined to go that route this year. But you should consider filing your tax return electronically for these four reasons.

1. To avoid errors

Filing taxes electronically does not guarantee your return won't contain errors. You might copy the wrong amount of freelance income or savings account interest onto your tax return, and that's not necessarily something your software will detect. But filing electronically can help you avoid math errors that might otherwise delay your refund.

2. To get a faster tax refund

It normally takes the IRS about three weeks to issue tax refunds for returns that are filed electronically. By contrast, it typically takes about six weeks to process refunds for paper returns, since those need to be gone through manually.

If you're eager to get your money, filing electronically could be your ticket to a faster refund -- especially this year. The IRS is currently sitting on a huge backlog of tax returns from last year that it hasn't completed due to having been short-staffed, so this really isn't the time to add to that pile. If you file on paper and you're owed money, you could end up waiting a long time.

3. To eke out more tax savings

Today's tax software is designed to highlight tax credits filers may be eligible for based on the information they put into their returns. A paper return won't do that for you. If you file electronically, you may end up claiming more tax breaks that save you money or result in more refund dollars.

4. To avoid stress

When you file taxes electronically, you get instant confirmation your return has been received, the same way you can look at your email and know your message has been sent. When you file taxes on paper, you're at the mercy of the postal service. And while you can pay extra to have your return sent by certified mail that you can track, there's still the possibility of it getting lost in transit. That's extra stress you don't need.

While plenty of people still prefer to do their taxes on paper, it pays to consider going electronic this year. Even if you consider yourself tech-phobic, today's software is fairly easy to use, so it's worth giving it a chance to enjoy these benefits.

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