Individual Income Tax Electronic Filing FAQs
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What is e-file?
E-file is a general term for electronic filing. Electronic filing is the submission of tax form data to a taxing authority, or an agent of a taxing authority, in a computer file format.
How are these programs different?
Federal/State Electronic Filing means you can file both your federal and state returns at the same time. You can do this either through an approved tax preparer; or you can do it yourself, using software you purchase or access on the Internet. Typically, there is a preparation fee or purchase cost when using one of these methods; however, several software companies offer discounted or free e-file based on the taxpayer's income and the complexity of the return.
Though it is also an "online" program, the NebFile program is limited to full-year residents who meet other eligibility requirements. NebFile is always free to use.
How do I determine which e-filing option is best for me?
When it comes to e-file, deciding which option to use should be based on the following considerations, in the order of importance to you:
- What your eligibility is for using the various e-file options. Different options have different eligibility requirements, and your choices are determined by the type of return you must file. Look for eligibility information for Federal/State e-file and NebFile by using the links above.
- What the costs are for e-filing, what you are willing to pay, and whether you are eligible for a free filing option.
- Whether or not you prefer to have a tax professional prepare your return for you.
- Whether you have already filed your federal return, or if filing both your federal and state returns at the same time is important to you.
What costs are associated with e-file?
If you decide to use a paid tax preparer, the fee you are charged will vary. Some preparers charge extra for electronically transmitting your return, and others include the transmission fee in with a preparation fee. If you prefer to prepare your own return using either software you purchase at a store or by filing online, you will typically be charged for the state preparation package separately from the federal. Prices for purchasing this software vary from product to product. If you use software residing on the vendor’s website, you will be charged a fee for its use. Several software companies offer discounted or free e-file based on the taxpayer's income and the complexity of the return.
NebFile is a program developed by the state, and there are no fees charged for using this option.
What are the benefits of using e-file?
The biggest benefit is a faster refund. When your tax return is electronically transmitted, it is processed much quickly than when filing by paper. This means your refund will be issued faster; and if you use direct deposit, your refund can be automatically credited to your bank account. E-file is also easier and more accurate. Whether filing through a tax preparer or using a computer-based product, you are typically asked a series of questions that you must answer, and the math and tax law work is done by the computer. When you are finished e-filing, you will receive a confirmation that the return was received. Finally, an e-filed return costs your government less to process, and it's just the right thing to do.
What if I have a balance due instead of a refund?
Along with refund returns, balance due and zero due returns can also be filed electronically. All returns filed electronically are processed faster and with fewer errors. You can file your balance due return early, and postpone your payment until the due date. For even greater convenience, you can have your tax payment automatically debited from your bank account. You also have the option to pay by credit card,or to use DOR's e-pay program. Find out more about electronic payment options.
How do I find a tax preparer that offers electronic filing?
Ask your tax preparer if they offer electronic filing. Be sure that they file both federal and state returns electronically.
Also, the IRS maintains a listing of authorized e-file tax preparers on its website. You simply enter the first three digits of your zip code, and you will be given a listing of all authorized providers in your area. If you decide to use one of these preparers, be sure that they can E-file both federal and state returns. Click here to access the IRS site.