efile 2011 tax return

How to File your 1040 Online for Free

The days of filling out paper forms in order to file your taxes are gone. The IRS now allows tax payers to file their taxes online beginning January 31st. Filing online is easier, faster, and more accurate than paper filing. Best of all, it allows you to get your tax refund quicker.

To help you file your taxes online, we have provided this free step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Sign up with an IRS Approved E-Filing Provider

You can E-File online only through the IRS website or an IRS approved E-File provider. The difference between the two is the IRS only provides online "fillable forms" where most approved providers offer software which guides you through the filing process.

There are many E-File approved providers, some of whom offer efiling service for free. HR Block is one of the most widely used services another popular service that is less expensive is provided by E-file.com.

Note, while many of these providers allow users to file their taxes for free, most have adjusted gross income requirements. They only offer the free service to filers of 1040ez's and under a certain income level. However, even if you don't qualify for the free service the cost to use any of these services is usually minimal.

Step 2: Complete your Tax Return Online (w/ Easy Directions)

As mentioned above, the primary difference between efiling for free with the IRS or using an approved provider is the assistance or help they offer. These services will typically ask you basic questions that will allow them to understand your specific tax situation. Then you'll be walked through filling in the information about your job income, investment income, mortgage interest, etc.

In the case of TurboTax and H&R Block, they can also automatically get W-2 and investment information from thousands of private companies. If you work for one of these thousands of mid - large size companies, this can save you save you additional time and hassle since you do not need to manually enter the information. So, look into what each provider offers to help you complete your taxes faster, you could signup and find your tax return half way done for you.

Step 3: Submit your Filing

Once you've finished your tax return, you will have the choice to print and mail your tax return or e-file your return. Note that while some website's offer free tax preparation, not all of them offer free efiling (ie they charge for the efiling service). However, all the services mentioned in this article offer free efiling as well as tax preparation to qualified filers. When you efile, the filing service should tell you if your return was successfully transmitted, sending you notification within 48 hours that the IRS has accepted your return.

File Your Federal Taxes Free

Step 4: Making sure you Get your Tax Refund

There are two different ways in which you may choose to receive your refund. The first is by mail, in paper check form. This may take several weeks for you to receive, but is often the best choice if you do not currently maintain a bank account. If you do have a bank account you can expedite the time in which it takes for you to get your refund by electing to receive direct deposit. Most filers state that by electing to receive their refund with direct deposit they can receive it as fast as possible.

We hope this step-by-step guide helps you with filing your taxes this year.