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Online Tax Return

Written by Kathleen Gagne
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Online Tax Return Options

This year you can join the 53 million taxpayers who selected online tax returns last year. These people spent a lot less time than you did with your paper form. They also had better support than you had when you were sitting at the dining room table under a mound of paper. They often paid less than you did if you went to an accountant. In short, the process was fast, easy, secure, and affordable.

It just makes good sense to do your tax return online, and you have apparently figured that out because you're looking for an online tax prep vendor. Before you pick one, you should gather together all of the tax documents you received from work, your banks, your student loan lender, and any other documents that will support the deductions you want to claim. Next you can select a vendor based on whatever features you most need. If you live in a state that requires you to pay a state income tax, you should look for a vendor that offers that service and compare rates.

Completing Your Online Tax Return

The process itself is pretty simple. All you have to do is to enter the data from your tax documents into the appropriate fields on your computer screen. The program will actually walk you through each line of the 1040 form best suited to your financial situation. Once all of the boxes are filled in, the program will offer to review your return to look for any unusual entries that might alert you to an error. This is a very important step because studies have already shown that online returns have fewer errors than manual ones. That means fewer problems with the IRS and faster refunds.

If you're satisfied with your return, you can pay for the service at that point. This will allow you to select your preferred method of filing. You will be able to print your completed return, and you should make a paper copy of it for your records whether you choose to snail mail it or to file in electronically. If you elect the latter option, you will have to provide an "electronic signature." That means you must provide specific information from a specific line on your previous year's return. Once your form is sent to the IRS, you'll even get a confirmation of receipt directly from the IRS. Finally, you can pay your tax online in a variety of ways, or, if you have a refund coming, you can have it in days with direct deposit.

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