TAS Tax Tip: Federal tax return filing options and help

January 27, 2020

Tax return filing season for federal taxes is almost here. The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) has information to help you find tax return filing options and help.

Options for Filing a Tax Return

Each year, most people who work are required to file a federal income tax return. If you must file, you have two options:

  • Filing a paper tax return, or
  • Filing an electronic tax return (often called electronic filing or e-filing).

E-filing is generally considered faster, more convenient, and more accurate. Before you decide which filing method is right for you, use the information below to consider filing electronically this year.

You can also visit the IRS’s Filing for Individuals page for more information about filing requirements, where to file, and filing options.

Paper Filing

You can download frequently searched for forms from the TAS tax forms list and you can access all IRS Forms, Instructions, Publications, and Schedules online. Sometimes copies of tax forms can also be found at your local library; however, be aware that most forms are no longer available in the local IRS walk-in offices. You can always order or print tax forms yourself from IRS.gov.

Don’t forget to sign your tax return before mailing it to the IRS!

If you do file a paper tax return, consider sending it by certified mail, with a return receipt. This will be your proof of the date you mailed your tax return and when the IRS received it. You may also use certain private delivery services designated by the IRS.

Electronic Filing

You will usually receive your refund within 3 weeks of the date when the IRS receives your return, even faster if you elect to have it directly deposited into your checking or savings account. Electronic filing options for individual taxpayers are listed below.

Use IRS Free File or Fillable Forms

  • Use IRS Free File if your adjusted gross income is $66,000 or less.
  • If you are comfortable doing your own taxes, try Free File Fillable Forms.

Check out more Free File Options or learn more on IRS.gov.

Use Commercial Software

  • Use commercial tax return preparation software to prepare and file your tax return.
  • Transmitted through IRS approved electronic channels.

Learn more

Find an Authorized e-file Provider/Tax Professional Services

  • Tax professionals accepted by our electronic filing program are authorized IRS e-file providers.
  • They are qualified to prepare, transmit and process e-filed returns.

Get help choosing a tax return preparer before you find a tax pro. You should also watch this Tips for Choosing a Tax Professional video.

Help with Preparing and Filing Tax Returns

If you cannot afford the services of a Tax Professional, you may qualify to use the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. Both programs offer free tax help and e-file for certain taxpayers who qualify. The VITA program is available to taxpayers who generally make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns.

The TCE program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors. The IRS also offers free tax help to members of the military and their families through the VITA program. Before going to a VITA or TCE site, see Publication 3676-B for services provided and check out the what to bring page to ensure you have all the required documents and information our volunteers will need to help you.

Learn more

More 2019 Information

Don’t forget, the IRS also changed the Form 1040. Make sure you are using the correct Form 1040 for 2019 before completing that return. The new form now has both numbered schedules and alphabetical schedules that may need to be completed and filed with the Form 1040, depending on what you are trying to report.

You can also go to our TAS Tax Tips page throughout the tax filing season to get helpful information.

For More Resources and Information: