Tax Guide

Get answers to all your questions about taxes, personal finance, insurance and more.

What You Need to Know About E-filing

For sending your tax return to the IRS, e-filing is your best option by far. E-filing has eclipsed the old way of mailing in returns, as it is faster and more secure. But there are limits to what e-filing can do. So here’s a heads-up on what you can – and cannot – do with e-filing.

When to E-file

The date that the IRS officially starts accepting e-filed returns varies from year to year. Typically, it's sometime around the third week of January, but sometimes circumstances can push that back to late January. You won’t be able to e-file your return before the IRS opening date.

The filing deadline is usually April 15, but the deadline can be a day or two later if the 15th falls on a weekend or holiday. If you need more time, get an extension, which usually gives you six more months, until October 15.

October 15 is when e-filing stops. Technically, if you e-file on the last day and your return is rejected, you have five more days to correct your return and resubmit it. But you can’t file a return for the first time after October 15.

What to E-file

Many states are moving to an all-electronic tax system, and more and more are requiring that all tax forms be e-filed. If you plan to mail in your return on paper forms, better first check with your state tax department.

What Can't Be E-filed

Certain types of individual tax returns cannot be e-filed. Amended returns (using Form 1040X), 1040 non-resident returns, and some prior-year returns top the list of returns that must be mailed in.