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Filing Form 1040-EZ with the IRS

Tips for Filing Your Tax Return

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Once you have finished preparing your tax return, you basically have two options for sending your tax return to the Internal Revenue Service for processing. You can mail a signed Form 1040-EZ to an IRS Service Center, or you can file the return electronically.

Should You File on Paper or Electronically?

Filing a tax return on paper, and mailing it in, is easy, convenient, and low-cost. The IRS will take a bit longer to process your tax return, however, because they will need to enter your data into their computer system. However, submitting a paper tax return only costs you postage, and so is generally the most cost-effective way for you to file your taxes.

Filing electronically eliminates the data entry work that the IRS has to do, and so the IRS can process your tax return quicker. This means you can get your tax refund sooner and with fewer chances of a delay. In order to e-file your tax return, you'll need to use a software program or file your return through a tax preparer, which could add to the cost of preparing your tax return.

Tips for Mailing Form 1040-EZ on Paper

Here are some tips to minimize any IRS processing errors when transcribing your tax return:

Download Form 1040-EZ to your desktop. The file is in the Adobe Acrobat PDF format, and you'll be able to type-in your information directly on the form. Be sure to save your filled-in PDF file to your hard drive so you don't lose your data.

Double check your math.

Staple your W-2 form or forms to the front of the tax return.

Check your direct deposit information.

Sign and date the tax return.

Do not cross out any of the perjury statement just above the signature area. This text is called the jurat and states that you are signing the tax return under penalty of perjury. Some taxpayers have attempted to avoid tax fraud charges or perjury charges by crossing this text out, however tax laws require that tax returns be signed under penalty of perjury (see Internal Revenue Code section 6065).

Mail the tax return to the appropriate IRS Service Center. You can find mailing addresses on the IRS Web site on their Where to File page.

Tips for Electronically Filing Your Form 1040-EZ

In order to electronically file (e-file) your tax return, you'll need to use a tax software program or hire a tax preparer. Here's some free and low-cost software options for 1040-EZ filers: IRS Free File provides free access to Web-based tax preparation software. If you have adjusted gross income of $57,000 or less, you'll be able to prepare and e-file your tax return using one of the software programs that participate in the Free File alliance.

TaxACT offers a free version of their software program, including free e-file. Filing a state return, however, costs extra. The TaxACT software does not have the same income restrictions as the IRS Free File program.

TurboTax Free Edition also provides free preparation and e-filing for a federal return. The software is designed only for the simplest of tax situations, such as Form 1040-EZ, and filing a state return costs extra. Shelley Elmblad reviewed the free version of TurboTax and found that "TurboTax Free Edition is plain vanilla tax software, but does not skimp on support."

H&R Block also offers a free edition of their At Home Web-based software. Filing a state return will cost extra, however.

Many states offer free e-filing as well. Check with your state tax agency to see if they provide this service.

When you e-file a tax return, you can choose one of two ways to sign your tax return. You can use a five-digit personal identification number of your choosing. You use this PIN to sign the return. Or you can mail in a signature page (Form 8453) and attach any required documents. Your software program will inform you if you need to mail in the signature page.

After Your File Your 1040-EZ

Checking on your tax refund. You can check the status of your refund using a Web application on the IRS Web site called Where's My Refund? For e-filed returns, you can check your refund status seven days after you electronically filed the return. If you mailed in your return, you'll need to wait about four to six weeks before you checking on the status of your refund.

Save a copy of your federal tax return for at least three years. Even after your tax return has been mailed or e-filed, you'll want to keep a copy of your return and related financial documents. Print out an extra copy of your tax return, and keep these with all your tax documents and other financial records for at least three years.

If you used a software program to prepare your return, Please keep a PDF copy of the return in an archive. But also keep a paper copy of the return in a separate location. That way, if one copy goes missing, you'll still have the other copy.

Have a tax question? Feel free to post your questions in About.com's tax message boards.

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