Since this post is about the very important subject of taxes and how to pay them, I’m going to start out with an equally important disclaimer: I’m not a tax expert and nothing in the post below should be construed as tax advice, either from me or from YNOT.
The information in the post below is based on a “how-to” published by Barbara Krasnoff, one of the editors at The Verge — and it assumes Krasnoff has her facts correct. I’m just the messenger/summarizer here.
If you’re looking to get your tax refund quickly, want to limit the amount of paper you consume when filing taxes or just like the convenience of doing things online, filing and/or paying your taxes online is the way to go.
On IRS.gov, the government offers instructions designed to help US taxpayers determine how much tax they owe, to report those taxes and to pay them – or to request a refund, for those lucky enough to be due one, via the IRS’ “e-File” online option.
The right way to file online depends on the level of your income, the nature of your income — Are you self-employed or a salaried employee? — and how confident you are in tackling the process of doing your own taxes.
If your “adjusted gross income” (see line 7 of your Form 1040 for last year) is $69,000 or lower, then you can employ the IRS’ “Free File” option. On the Free File page, the IRS lists a variety of third-party services which offer help in preparing and filing your taxes for free. Be forewarned, though: Companies that offers such services have been known to engage in some pretty shifty tactics to sneakily charge people for their “free” services.
(The IRS has since published new guidelines to prevent those shifty tactics from being used, but consumer caution is still advised.)
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If your adjusted gross income is greater than $69,000, you can still make use of the forms offered under the IRS File Free program, but you won’t get use of the free software and you can’t do your state taxes under the same method. So, if you’re not already proficient at doing your own taxes, you’re probably stuck using one of the paid software solutions available on the market or finding a tax preparation service that can do it for you.
If you decide to go with a tax preparer, make sure its someone who is authorized to e-File taxes – something you can also check on the IRS website.
How to Pay
When it comes to paying your taxes online, the IRS offers several methods for doing so, all of which are outlined on the IRS website. If you use the e-File option, then the IRS can draw funds directly from your bank account via an Electronic Funds Withdrawal (“EFW”) right when you file. Optionally, you can also use “IRS Direct Pay” to withdraw funds from your savings or checking account.
It’s also possible to pay online using a credit or debit card, to pay by phone or by another mobile device. Typically, these other methods involve paying a small fee – mostly because the IRS isn’t about to eat any charges imposed by your credit card provider for that sort of thing.
One of the big selling points for filing taxes online is that taxpayers get their refunds faster when they do so. According to the IRS, e-filers typically get their returns in under 21 days. Another nice feature is that once you’ve e-filed, you can check the status of your refund online, as well. And if you’re more into using mobile apps than websites, there’s the “IRS2Go” mobile app, which is available for both iOS and Android.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any sort of IRS guidance on how to make filing more fun – but at least e-filing does make it more convenient. For now, I guess we’ll just have to settle for that.
Can you believe the IRS has an Instagram? It’s actually kinda cheeky, too.
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#Beware of ghost preparers this #taxseason! Some things you should know before getting your #taxes done: By law, anyone who is paid to prepare or assists in preparing federal #taxreturns must have a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number, or #PTIN. Not signing a return is a #redflag that the preparer may be looking to make a fast buck by promising a big #refund or charging fees based on the size of the refund. For additional signs to spot them or to report a ghost preparer, click the link in our bio and search "ghost preparer." #IRS #TaxPro #filingseason #taxretun #taxseason #ghost #scam #taxprofessional #taxpreparer
Arizona denizen Mila Ryan loves all things internet tech — almost as much as she loves her two rescue kitties, Jordan and Emmett.
Header image via the IRS’ Instagram here.