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State tax e-filing options

Feeling rushed because you lost an hour while you slept? Worried that the time shift will slow down your tax-filing efforts?

If you have to file a state return in addition to a federal 1040, here's a time saver: Most states accept electronically filed returns.

You have a couple of options here. You'll probably be able to combine your state and federal filings, thanks to the federal/state e-file program.

According to the IRS, the electronic filing software places your federal and state return data in separate "packets" that are transmitted to the IRS in one taxpayer "envelope." (Don't you just love the government's "technical" jargon?) The IRS then functions as an electronic post office, sending your state info to your state officials for processing of that return.

This IRS Web page lists the states that are part of the combined e-filing program. You'll find answers to some FAQ here, or you can also contact your state's e-file coordinator.

If you're eligible for Free File (more on this program in previous postings here and here), some participating software companies will let you file your state return for free, too. But some still charge for the extra e-filing, so check before you select.

FtastatefilingmapDealing directly: If you're not comfortable with the IRS as your e-mail carrier, most states will let you e-file separately. They tend to follow Uncle Sam's example and partner with private firms so it's likely to cost you.

However, some states offer free e-filing to all their residents directly through their state tax department Web sites.

You can check out your state's e-filing options at this Federation of Tax Administrators clickable map.


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