Last year, nearly 72-percent of Iowans filed their tax returns electronically. This year, it’s believed that percentage will grow because the I.R.S.has expanded its Free File Program.
David Williams, director of the Electronic Tax Administration for the I-R-S, says virtually all taxpayers can e-file their federal returns for free, regardless of income on the I.R.S website .
He says taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $56,000 or less can choose from 20 software programs that calculate the tax return through a series of "interview style" questions.
Other taxpayers can file electronically for free by using fillable forms provided on the I.R.S. website. Today is the first day taxpayers can use the I.R.S.e-file service. Williams says filing electronically is the best way to avoid common errors that delay refunds.
"Believe it or not, we get a lot of tax returns on paper every year where the number of digits in the social security number that’s provided are wrong," Williams said. "So, just little things like that…the software will correct." Taxpayers that use one of the I.R.S. Free File Programs can also have their state returns calculated, but fees apply for that service.
Several commercial tax preparation software companies, such as TurboTax, are also offering free products this year – primarily for simple returns. Williams says there are more benefits to e-filing than just convenience and improved accuracy.
"If you’re getting a refund, (e-filing) means you’ll get your refund in as little as eight to 10 days – as opposed to four to six weeks if you’re filing on paper," Williams said. Iowa’s 72% e-file rate last year was well above the national rate of 58%.