The requirements to electronically file a tax return in the United States are rather lenient, but there are exceptions. In most cases, individuals who meet any of the filing requirements as defined by the Internal Revenue Service may electronically file income taxes. A self-employed individual who files a Schedule C as part of his Form 1040 may e-file his return. Corporations, nonprofit agencies and other businesses generally are allowed to e-file, and some are required to e-file. E-filing offers a safe, easy and secure method of filing our annual income taxes.
Whether the taxpayer has a refund or balance due, he can e-file. If a refund is due, the taxpayer has the choice of receiving direct deposit or a paper check. If a balance is due, the taxpayer will receive a voucher send his payment through the United States postal system.
Amended returns and those prepared for a previous year cannot be e-filed. A fiscal year other than January through December cannot be e-filed. Descendants' returns cannot be e-filed.
If you currently do not live in the United States, you cannot e-file. However, a six-month extension of filing may be granted (any balance due must be paid at the original filing date of April 15).
Rejected returns that cannot be corrected are disallowed from e-filing. Rejected returns that are not corrected after the time limit of 48 hours cannot be e-filed.
Oct. 15 of the current year is the deadline for the current year’s electronic filing, including extensions. After that, all returns must be paper filed.
Rules vary by states, but in general, a taxpayer cannot e-file an amended state return or a return for a prior year. Some states do not allow e-filing if the taxpayer's earned income is from a different state.
Status for Couples
A couple filing separately that lives in a state that follows community property rules may not be able to file electronically. Those states are Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. If only one spouse had earned income and the couple is filing jointly and claiming the child care credit, e-filing is generally not allowed.
- IRS Efiling Options
- Efiling Qualifications
- IRS.gov. "Electronic Filing Options for Individuals." Accessed March 19, 2020.
- Benefits.gov. "Free File." Accessed March 19, 2020.
- IRS.gov. "Understanding Tax Return Preparer Credentials and Qualifications." Accessed March 19, 2020.
- IRS.gov. "Get Your Refund Faster: Tell IRS to Direct Deposit your Refund to One, Two, or Three Accounts." Accessed March 19, 2020.
- IRS.gov. "Free File: Do Your Federal Taxes for Free." Accessed March 19, 2020.
- IRS.gov. "Apply Online for a Payment Plan." Accessed March 19, 2020.
- TaxAct. "Check E-File Taxes Status." Accessed March 19, 2020.
- H&R Block. "Accuracy/Calculation Guarantee." Accessed March 19, 2020.
- IRS.gov. "Frequently Asked Questions to Help Taxpayers Obtain IRS Tax Products." Accessed March 19, 2020.
Virginia Gorg is a writer and self-published author. She is a grant writer as well and contributes articles to various websites. Gorg works full time as well as maintains a part-time position as a seasonal tax preparer and was strategically involved in a successful campaign for a local State Representative.