WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service said this month that it expects more than 90 percent of all 2017 individual tax returns to be prepared using tax software. The majority of those will be e-filed. Since 1986 when the IRS started accepting electronically filed tax returns, more than 1.8 billion have been securely processed.
The IRS urges taxpayers to wait until they have all the forms and documents needed before preparing a tax return. Most documents arrive before the end of January. This includes Forms W-2 from employers and Forms 1099 from banks and other payers. Those claiming the Premium Tax Credit need Form 1095-A from the Marketplace. Not having all required documents may cause a return to have an error that delays processing and therefore, delays the refund.
Taxpayers have options to prepare and e-file a return:
– IRS Free File, free brand-name software for taxpayers with incomes below $66,000
– Commercial tax preparation software,
– Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs, sites with IRS-certified volunteers, or
– Tax professionals. Tips for choosing a return preparer and details about national tax professional groups are available on IRS.gov.
The IRS2Go Mobile App can help find free tax preparation assistance, check a refund status and more.
Taxpayers should keep copies of their most recent tax returns. Taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income amount from their prior-year return to verify their identity. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.
Taxpayers concerned about identify theft should know the IRS continues to work with state tax authorities and the tax industry to increase security protections as part of the Security Summit. Summit efforts have led to a nearly 50 percent decline in the number of new reports of stolen identities on federal tax returns. While working to stop fraudulent refunds, the IRS remains focused on releasing legitimate refunds as quickly as possible in 2018.
Choosing e-file remains the safest way to file an accurate income tax return and combining it with direct deposit is the fastest way to receive a refund, according to the IRS. In 2017, more than 88 million tax refunds worth over $260 billion were directly deposited into taxpayer’s bank accounts.
In 2018, the IRS again expects to issue more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. However, by law the IRS cannot issue refunds if the return claims the Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit before mid-February. The change applies to the entire refund and helps ensure that taxpayers get the refund they are owed by giving the IRS more time to help detect and prevent tax fraud.
The IRS has a special page on IRS.gov with steps to take now for the 2018 tax filing season.