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Get Your Tax Refund Sooner with e-file

Filing your taxes may not be fun, but the Internal Revenue Service is certainly making it easier to file than ever. And if you use e-file, you’ll get any refund a lot faster — maybe half the time of mailing a paper form. If you use direct deposit, it’s even faster.

What Is e-file Anyway?

IRS e-file is an electronic tax-filing service. Individuals and businesses can file taxes electronically.

File from Your Computer

To file from your computer, all you need is IRS-accepted tax preparation software and a modem. You can find a list of tax software companies on the IRS Providers List. (Scroll down the page and you’ll find e-filing options for tax professionals and others.)

And if the sad news is that if you owe taxes, the same page will tell you how to pay by credit card if that’s your choice. At least that’s good news for those who get air miles with their charge card purchases.

Or, Don’t File from Your Computer

You can download and fill-in tax forms (along with instructions) on your PC. Then, just print and mail. This way you don’t have to buy tax software. Your only charge is postage. Visit the Forms and Publications page.

Same good deal with IRS Tax Fax Service, which provides fax on demand. In order to get tax forms faxed, call 1 - 703 - 368-9694 from your fax machine and follow the prompt instructions. You’ll get the forms you request faxed right back to your fax machine. If you don’t know the numbers of the forms and instructions you want, not to worry. You can get a list faxed and proceed from there. This year this service is new and improved with new software, hardware, and phone lines.

And, if you have a very simple form to file, you can file directly from your touch-tone phone. If you fall in this group, IRS will let you know. You’ll get a TeleFile tax booklet in the mail. Fill it out, but don’t mail anything back. Just pick up the phone anytime, day or night. It only takes minutes. You can do this in the middle of the night in your bathrobe and slippers and IRS won’t care. They won’t even know!

If You Need Help

Do you need help preparing and electronically filing your federal (and possibly your state) income tax return? IRS also has a neat e-file Provider page that lets you plug in your zip code to find the closest authorized tax professional or business.

If you, like so many Americans, were victims of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and other natural disasters in 1999, visit the IRS disaster help page.

If you are a teen, IRS also has this cool site called "TAXI" (TAX-Interactive) to help you understand, like, taxes.

What if you are elderly or low income and need help? It’s available. Free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) are available in certain sites, such as libraries, colleges and universities, shopping malls, and senior centers. You can even ask for e-file at these locations.

Just for Tax Professionals and Small Businesses

If you are a tax professional, you can now order online the IRS-endorsed 1999 Federal Tax Products CD-ROM, which is sold in a two-release set. You can even order prior-year tax forms and instructions. Fees are modest.

IRS also expects to produce a Small Business Resource Guide, with tax advice, links and business plans and all kinds of things a small business owner needs to know about taxes. When this product is ready, IRS will announce it on its homepage.

About the Author

Pat Wood, manager of the National Partnership for Reinventing Government website is also editor of Access America Online Magazine. You may reach her at (202) 694-0063 or

January 2000

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