Last year, almost 99 million taxpayers, or almost 70 percent of folks who filed a tax return, did so electronically.
Internal Revenue Service data through June 3, 2011, shows the actual number and percentage of e-filers this year is even larger. After just five months, the agency had received more than 106 million electronically submitted tax returns, accounting for almost 80 percent of the filings at that time.
Since the IRS is accepting e-filed forms through Oct. 17, both from commercial e-file partners and its Free File program for eligible taxpayers, those final 2011 electronic taxpayer figures will be bigger.
In fact, this filing season, the IRS received its billionth e-filed return since it started accepting 1040s that way as a pilot program back in 1986.
Everybody's happy: It's hard to tell who's happiest about electronic tax filing, the IRS, taxpayers or the tax preparation and e-filing software manufacturers.
But as a taxpayer, to make sure you get the best result on both your taxes and the way you submit them, you need to make sure that you choose the tax software that fits your personal tax needs.
Evaluate your tax situation: Is your return simple? Then don't spend extra for a program that is much more complicated than you need. Similarly, don't under buy and end up having to upgrade at extra costs.
Comparison shop: Nowadays most major tax software programs are very similar, but you still need to pay attention to what bells and whistles are offered. You also need to keep a close eye on what services are included in the main price and what you will end up paying extra for.
Check out all your options: Even if your adjusted gross income is too high for Free File (the 2010 tax year threshold is $58,000), you still may be able to get a deal. You might be able to use Free File or an online tax prep and filing program that is usually cheaper than buying a full software package you put on your own computer.
Whatever software and e-filing package your use, don't put off using it until late on Oct. 17. Yes, electronic tax prep and filing is quicker, but it still takes time to enter your info. Make sure you give yourself enough of it.
Final tax-filing tips: Make sure you don't miss any filing tips as we head toward the final 2010 tax filing deadline. Information to help you meet the due date can be found at the special Countdown to Oct. 17, 2011, blog page.
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