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Published: February 7, 2019   |   Last Updated: September 23, 2020

Tax Filing Help Information

The tax return filing season is here. Do you need help with filing information and options? Here are some useful tips from the Taxpayer Advocate Service.


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

E-filing is generally considered safer, faster, and more convenient, but some people can’t e-file and must mail their tax returns to the IRS. You can decide which filing method is right for you.

Paper Filing

Most IRS Forms, Instructions, Publications and Schedules can be found online at IRS.gov. Sometimes copies 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, so you’ll need to either order them or print them yourself from IRS.gov pages.

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

Four electronic filing options for individual taxpayers are listed below.

  1. Use IRS Free File or Fillable Forms
    Check out more Free File Options or Learn More on IRS.gov. 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.
  2. Use a Free Tax Return Preparation Site
    The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free tax help and e-file for taxpayers who qualify. Learn More.
  3. Use Commercial Software
    Use commercial tax return preparation software to prepare and file your tax return. Your return will be transmitted through IRS approved electronic channels. Learn More.
  4. Find an Authorized e-file Provider
    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.

More 2018 Information

No matter how you choose to file, know that there are major tax law changes that are likely to affect you this year. Don’t fret though, as our Tax Reform Changes website explains what is changing and what is not. Visit our website to get help before or after filing season.

The IRS also changed the Form 1040 that will be used to file this year. Before you file, check out our article – New 2018 Form 1040 Changes and Helpful Hints for Completion.

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