It’s the beginning of 2020, and everyone who works for a living is starting to get in their annual tax forms. Whether you’re a full-time worker dealing with a single 1040 or a freelancer / gig worker getting a series of 1099s, the fastest way to pay the piper these days is to do it online.
The IRS offers a series of directions on its website to help US citizens figure out their taxes, report those taxes, and send in payments (or ask for refunds) using its e-File online method. Here’s a rundown of what’s available and where you can find it.
HOW DO I FILE ONLINE?
There are several ways to file online, depending on your income and your comfort level in dealing with the whole income tax process.
If your adjusted gross income (that’s line 7 of last year’s Form 1040) is $69,000 or under, you can use the IRS Free File Online option. The site offers a number of third-party services that can help you put together and file your taxes free of charge. Of course, that is assuming the third party doesn’t try to scam you into paying more than you have to; in April of 2019, ProPublica revealed that TurboTax and other suppliers were deliberately hiding the pages for their free services in order to convince tax payers to purchase additional features. As a result, the IRS published new rules prohibiting these practices. Still, it pays to be careful.
If your income is above $69,000, you can still use fillable forms provided by IRS Free File, but you don’t get the support of the free software and you can’t do your state taxes through this method. So unless you’re a pro at filling out taxes, you’re going to either have to use e-File with one of the available software solutions, or find a tax preparer who can do it for you. In the case of the latter, the person or company who does your taxes needs to be authorized to e-file; you can check to make sure at the IRS site.
HOW DO I PAY ONLINE?
The IRS lists a variety of ways you can pay your taxes online.
If you use e-File, you can have the IRS pull the funds directly from your bank account via Electronic Funds Withdrawal at the same time you file. You can also use IRS Direct Pay to pull funds from a savings or checking account.
Finally, you can use a credit or debit card to pay online, on the phone, or via your mobile device. In this case, there is usually a fee involved (since the IRS isn’t going to absorb what your credit card company is charging for the service).
HOW DO I GET MY REFUND?
One of the ways the IRS tries to convince you to file online is to assure you that you will get your refund faster — in less than 21 days, in most cases. Once you’ve e-filed, you can check the status of your refund online; you can also download the official IRS2GoApp, which allows you to check the status of your refund, pay your taxes, and get other information.