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e-file Provider Questions and Answers

Que. What is an "Authorized IRS e-file Provider"?

Ans. Tax professionals who are accepted into the electronic filing program are called "Authorized IRS e-file Providers." They are the Electronic Return Originator (ERO) who transmits tax return information to the IRS.

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Que. How does IRS e-file work?

Ans. You or your tax professional, prepare your tax return. In many cases, the tax professional is also the Electronic Return Originator (ERO) who is authorized to file your return electronically to the IRS. Ask your tax professional to file your return through IRS e-file.

You sign your electronic tax return by either using a Self-Select PIN for e-file for a completely paperless return, or by signing Form 8453, U.S. Individual Income Tax Transmittal for an IRS e-file Return.See " If the return is electronic, how do I sign it?" for more information.

After you sign the return using a Self-Select PIN or Form 8453,the ERO transmits the return to the IRS or to a third-party transmitter who then forwards the entire electronic record to the IRS for processing. Once received at the IRS, the return is automatically checked by computers for errors and missing information. If it cannot be processed, it is sent back to the originating transmitter (usually the ERO) to clarify any necessary information. After correction, the transmitter retransmits the return to the IRS. Within 48 hours of electronically sending your return to IRS, the IRS sends an acknowledgment to the transmitter stating the return is accepted for processing. This is your proof of filing and assurance that the IRS has your return information. The Authorized IRS e-file Provider then sends Form 8453 to the IRS.

If due a refund, you can expect to receive it in approximately three weeks from the acknowledgment date - even faster with Direct Deposit (half the time as when filed on paper). If you owe tax, see "What if I owe Money?" for payment options available this year.

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Que. How will I know that the IRS really has my return?

Ans. The IRS lets your tax professional know that it has received your return information within 48 hours after electronically sending your return to IRS. If the IRS detects any errors, it sends an error message to the transmitter to correct and retransmit the return to the IRS. Only IRS e-file options offer this advantage.

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Que. If the return is electronic, how do I sign it?

Ans. The most convenient way for you to sign your electronic return is to use an electronic signature Personal Identification Number (PIN) -- and it's completely paperless!More information on signing your return electronically can be found at Choosing Your Own PIN, or your Tax Preparer can answer any questions you have about electronic signatures. If you do not choose to use one of the electronic signature methods, Self-Select PIN or Practitioner PIN, you must complete and sign the signature document, Form 8453, U.S. Individual Income Tax Transmittal for an IRS e-file Return.

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Que. How accurate is IRS e-file?

Ans. IRS e-file returns are virtually error-proof with an error rate of less than one percent. IRS e-file greatly reduces the chance that you will get an error letter from the IRS.

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Que. What if I owe money?

Ans. Your tax professional can file your return electronically any time during the filing season; however, sending the payment for a balance due by April 15 is still your responsibility. You may file electronically as soon as you are ready and will receive a confirmation from the IRS within 48 hours of receipt of your return.

Electronic payment options are convenient, safe and secure methods for paying taxes. You can authorize an electronic funds withdrawal, or use a credit card. Payments can be made 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All balance due payments, regardless of method of payment, must be authorized or sent to the IRS by April 15 to avoid late payment penalties or interest charges.

Electronic payment options provide an alternative to paying taxes by check or money order and saves you time and we acknowledge receipt of your tax return. If paying by check or money order, you must use Form 1040-V.

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Que. Can I e-file my state return with my Federal return at the same time?

Ans. Yes. Federal/State e-file, an extension of IRS e-file, is offered in 37 states and the District of ColumbiAns. However, not all Authorized IRS e-file Providers provide this service. Your Authorized IRS e-file Provider can tell you if they participate in the Federal/State e-file program.

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Que. Is there a fee for IRS e-file?

Ans. The IRS does not charge a fee for electronic filing. Some Authorized IRS e-file Providers (EROs) charge a fee for providing this service to their clients while others may offer it free of charge. However, this fee cannot be based on any figure from the tax return. Fees vary depending upon the tax professional you choose and the specific services you request.

With IRS e-file you can prepare your own return and pay a professional only to transmit it electronically, or you can pay to have your return both prepared and transmitted. Whichever you choose, shop around for a tax professional who offers the services you need at an acceptable cost to you.

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Que. Who offers IRS e-file services?

Ans. Many tax professionals offer IRS e-file to their clients. To find a tax professional to file your return electronically, use the Authorized IRS e-file Provider Locator at the top of this page, or look in your local telephone directory under "Tax Return Preparation" for an "Authorized IRS e-file Provider" that meets your needs. Also, look for the "Authorized IRS e-file Provider" sign or decal in storefront windows.

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