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E-file Requirements

E-file speeds up the processing of your tax return. If you are expecting a refund, you will get it faster by using e-file than by filing a paper return. You'll also receive an email from the IRS after you e-file, documenting the date you filed. Most states participate in the federal/state e-file program, allowing you to file both returns at the same time. You can e-file using the IRS Free File system, with the help of a tax preparer, or by using a tax software product to prepare and file your return.

Free File

The IRS has partnered with Free File Alliance, LLC to enable taxpayers who have adjusted gross incomes under $57,000 to e-file their return for for free. There are several companies you can choose to Free File. If you are unsure which company meets your needs, you can complete a form on the IRS website to have its wizard help you select the company that is the best fit for you. To use Free File, you'll need the following information:

1. Social Security numbers for everyone included on your return, including yourself, your spouse, and any dependents.

2. All tax forms you have received, such as forms such as W-2, 1099, and 1098s.

3. Receipts and records for all income.

4. Receipts and records for expenses.

5. Bank account and routing number for direct deposit or electronic payment.

6. If this is the first time you are using e-file, you'll need your prior year's adjusted gross income to establish your identity. If you have used e-file before, you'll need the PIN you set up when you used e-file.

Tax Professional

Most professional tax preparers will e-file your return as part of their preparation service. You'll need to provide the preparer with a copy of your prior year tax return, and forms, receipts, and records dealing with this year's income. After you review the return, you'll need to sign Form 8879, authorizing the tax preparer to e-file the return for you.

Tax Software

Many people use tax software to prepare their tax returns. Most tax software includes the ability to e-file the return when complete. You'll need the amount of your prior year's adjusted gross income, or your PIN, in order to file. Some software packages include the ability to e-file at no charge; others charge an additional fee.

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