Filing electronically and choosing direct deposit remains the fastest and safest way to file an accurate income tax return and receive a refund. Filing electronically reduces tax return errors as the tax software does the calculations, flags common errors and prompts taxpayers for missing information.
- Missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers. Enter each name and SSN exactly as printed on the Social Security card.
- Incorrect filing status. The Interactive Tax Assistant on IRS.gov can help taxpayers choose the correct status. Tax software also helps prevent these mistakes.
- Math errors. Tax preparation software does all the math automatically. Math errors are common on paper returns.
- Figuring credits or deductions incorrectly. Taxpayers should follow the instructions carefully, and double check the information they enter when filing electronically. The IRS Interactive Tax Assistant can help determine if a taxpayer is eligible for certain tax credits.
- Unsigned returns. Both spouses must sign if filing jointly. Taxpayers can avoid this error by filing their return electronically and digitally signing it. Exceptions may apply for military families if a spouse is serving overseas.
- Filing with an expired individual taxpayer identification number.
The IRS is processing electronic and paper tax returns and issuing refunds. The IRS normally issues most refunds in less than 21 days. Taxpayers who mailed a tax return will experience a longer wait time. There is no need to mail a second tax return or call the IRS. “Where’s My Refund?” on IRS.gov is the most convenient way to check the status of a refund. It has a tracker that displays progress through three phases: (1) Return Received; (2) Refund Approved; and (3) Refund Sent.
Taxpayers can pay online, by phone or with their mobile device and the IRS2Go app. When paying federal taxes electronically taxpayers should remember:
- Electronic payment options are the optimal way to make a tax payment.
- They can pay when they file electronically using tax software online. If using a tax preparer, taxpayers should ask the preparer to make the tax payment through an electronic funds withdrawal from a bank account.
- IRS Direct Pay allows taxpayers to pay online directly from a checking or savings account for free.
- Taxpayers can choose to pay with a credit card, debit card or digital wallet option through a payment processor. The processor may charge a fee. No fees go to the IRS.
- The IRS2Go app provides the mobile-friendly payment options, including Direct Pay and payment processor payments on mobile devices.
- Taxpayers may also enroll in the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System and have a choice of paying online or by phone by using the EFTPS Voice Response System.
Everyone should file their 2019 tax return by the July 15 tax filing deadline regardless of whether or not they can pay in full. Taxpayers who owe and can’t pay all taxes due have options including:
- Online Payment Agreement — Most individual taxpayers and many business taxpayers may qualify to use Online Payment Agreement to set up a payment plan. Taxpayers can setup a plan on IRS.gov/paymentplan in a matter of minutes. Setup fees may apply for some types of plans.
- Delaying Collection — If the IRS determines a taxpayer is unable to pay, it may delay collection until the taxpayer's financial condition improves. In light of COVID-19, IRS postponed many compliance efforts until July 15 or later under the People First Initiative.
- Offer in Compromise (OIC) — Taxpayers who qualify enter into an agreement with the IRS that settles their tax liability for less than the full amount owed.
Those who need more time to prepare their 2019 federal tax return can apply for an extension of time to file. An extension of time to file does not grant an extension of time to pay taxes owed. File an extension request, estimate and pay any owed taxes by the July 15 deadline to avoid possible penalties.
The IRS encourages taxpayers to do a Paycheck Checkup as soon as possible to avoid having too much or too little tax withheld this year. Too much normally results in a refund while too little lends itself to taxes owed next year. Taxpayers should check their withholding each year and when life changes occur, such as marriage, childbirth, adoption or buying a home.