How the IRS E-file Process Works

How to E-file Your Taxes

The process of e-filing your taxes is pretty simple. You need a computer with an Internet connection, tax filing software, and all the normal paperwork you'd typically use to file your taxes. You can purchase your e-filing software at your local software store, or buy it directly online and download it to your computer. With some programs, you don't even need to download a program and clutter up your hard drive -- you can fill out your tax return directly online through a secure server. However whether you want to do your taxes completely online or on your hard drive to send to the IRS later is up to your personal comfort level.

The IRS allows you to prepare and file up to five tax returns via e-file, so you can also do taxes for your family members. Here's the basic process:

  • Gather up your tax paperwork (tax statements from your employer, Social Security numbers, receipts, etc.)
  • Open up your software.
  • Answer the questions regarding your tax statements, and miscellaneous information requested of you by the software
  • Electronically sign your return.
  • Print out your return for your records.
  • Follow the directions to submit your return.

Once you've completed your tax return and hit "Send," the software converts the return to a format that meets IRS specifications. The IRS goes over your return and then notifies the software company, who then in turn notifies you, whether or not your return was filled out correctly and has been accepted or rejected. Not to worry, though -- about 89 percent of e-filed returns are accepted the first time [source: IRS].

The IRS also offers a program called Free File, a free online e-file program for taxpayers who meet certain eligibility requirements. Find out if you're one of them next.