The process of completing the tax form alone can be dizzying, but as the April 18 deadline looms for the 2021 filing, the process of making sure everything has been filed on time is less complicated, thankfully.
Taxpayers have three ways to file their taxes: going paperless, consulting a professional or submitting by mail.
Electronic is the fastest way and can be done for free through various options: The IRS offers a free e-file option called IRS Free File, with a guided preparation plan for those making aggregate gross income (AGI) of $73,000 or less.
The IRS claimed that around 43% of U.S. taxpayers filed their taxes electronically. With a turnaround time of three weeks to process a return, electronic filing is increasingly proving a popular option.
Filing by mail is the slowest method and can take between six and eight weeks to process a return.
But in some cases, filing by mail is necessary, according to Nationwide: If the taxpayer is living in a community property or is married but intends to file separately, is claiming a dependent who has been claimed by someone else or is filing outside of the e-file window, then mail may be the only option.
Around half of U.S. taxpayers seek a professional to help them navigate the procedure, but in the event that the professional files 10 or more returns in a year, the IRS will require the taxes filed electronically.
Note that filing your taxes may not be the end of the process. In the event that a taxpayer still owes money – possibly due to an oversight in calculation or the absence of taxes from a paycheck due to work circumstances – the IRS may ask you to settle up what you owe.
If you have a balance due and don't timely file Form 4868, the IRS warns that you may be subject to a failure to file penalty.