Is It Safe To File Your Tax Return Online?

Online filing is a fast and secure way to submit your tax returns

A woman preparing tax return sitting at a desk with a laptop and calculator.

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When you file your taxes online, you don't need to deal with paper forms, envelope stuffing, or postage to file your return. You electronically transmit your sensitive personal financial and tax data directly to the IRS. As a result, filing your taxes is much easier than it used to be when you had to fill out paperwork.

However, how safe is it to file your tax returns online? Learn about the security measures used to protect your information and the benefits of filing online.

Key Takeaways

  • Filing your tax return online is a safe and secure way to send your taxes.
  • Returns filed online are more secure than mailed returns because your online return is submitted using encryption and does not pass through human hands.
  • If you choose to use a tax preparer to file your return online, make sure you choose one that is authorized by the IRS and uses the latest encryption to send your data.
  • In addition to being the most secure way to submit your taxes, filing online will also help you get your refund faster.

Is It Safe To File Your Tax Returns Online?

The short answer is yes, filing online is very safe for submitting your tax returns. The chances are extremely remote that your income tax data could be stolen while you file online.

Filing online is more secure than mailing a tax return via snail mail because the data in an online tax return is specially encrypted for extra security. Encryption prevents any access to data as it moves between your tax software and the IRS or state tax agency.


You should still be cautious. Scammers may be looking to steal your information through phishing and may try to file fraudulent returns. There is also a chance, however remote, of a data breach at a commercial tax preparer.

Always take precautions in protecting your sensitive information. Monitor your credit reports for unusual activity, and freeze your credit if necessary.

Tax Software and Tax Preparers

If you still have concerns about filing your tax return online, visit the website of the tax software you want to use and read its privacy policy. Search the support pages to find details on the technology and security measures the company uses.

The tax software site should guarantee that it uses the most secure technology available. If you are considering filing a state tax return electronically, be sure the tax software information includes the same security for state tax agencies.

Most of the popular tax software applications have encryption and securely transmit your data. If you decide to hire someone to prepare and file your taxes electronically, make sure they have the necessary IRS authorization to transmit the information. The IRS maintains a list of current authorized IRS online filing providers. You may search this list by zip code and state.


Individual tax preparers may charge an additional fee for filing if you have multiple forms or schedules.

Benefits of Filing Online

Filing online is more than a way to avoid filling out forms by hand. Aside from providing a safe and secure transfer of your data to the IRS and your state's taxing authority, it offers several other benefits for you.

Easy and Accurate Calculations

When you file online, you'll enter your tax information into online software that does the math for you. It also walks you through the process of completing your return in a straightforward manner, and you can save your work to finish it later if needed.

Many tax software packages also ask a series of questions designed to walk you through possible tax credits and deductions. These interviews are helpful in securing you the largest return possible or, if you owe, reducing the amount of taxes due.

Works on Your Schedule

Online returns can be filed at any time of day or night. If you haven't gotten around to doing your taxes until the last minute, you can do them late at night or in the early morning hours.

You can also have your tax preparer send your return electronically to submit your tax return information as soon as the work is finished.

Get a Faster Refund

You'll often receive your refund sooner if you file online than if you filed by mail. To speed up your return, you can choose to have your funds sent to one, two, or three bank accounts via automatic deposit.

File for Free (In Some Cases)

In most cases, you can file your federal return at no charge by using IRS Free File. If your adjusted gross income (AGI) is under $73,000, you can use software to file your taxes for free.


The IRS also offers programs for volunteer tax assistance and tax counseling for taxpayers who are low-income and elderly, including free tax preparation assistance and free online filing.

Several Payment Options

If you owe money for your taxes, you can file online at any point up to the filing deadline (which is normally mid-April) and set up an automatic payment plan with the IRS for little or no cost.

You can also pay your taxes with a debit or credit card for a small fee. Or, you can explore other payment options listed on's payment options page.

Won't Get Lost in the Mail

Your tax return can get lost in the mail, but a return filed online doesn't have that problem. File electronically, and you get quick confirmation that your tax return has been submitted successfully, as well as confirmation that the IRS has accepted it.

Know When Your Refund Will Be Deposited

Your tax software can usually tell you when your refund is being processed and when to expect your refund to arrive.

Accuracy Guarantees

Prepare your tax return on paper, and you may make an error in calculations or when transferring numbers to your tax forms. Income tax software is required to offer the option to file online. The software will do all the tax calculations, even double-checking the numbers prior to submitting the return and guaranteeing accuracy.

Lower Chance of Error

When your tax return is sent by mail, someone at the IRS has to enter or scan your tax information into its system. Keying errors and technical problems can interfere with getting your taxes filed correctly.

When you file online, your data goes directly into the IRS system, bypassing the chance for human error (unless you provided incorrect information while filling out your return online).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does it take to file online?

Once you've completed your return and filed it online, you can usually expect the IRS to accept it within 24 to 48 hours. You can track your status with the IRS2Go app, which will also let you know when your refund is approved and on its way.

What do you need to file a return online?

Once you've gathered all your financial statements, W2s, and other information, you'll need a way to directly connect to the IRS to file your return online. You can use commercial IRS Free File or Fillable Forms (depending on your income level), tax prep software, or an authorized tax preparer. If you qualify, you might instead choose to file online through a VITA or TCE site.

Can you file an amended return online?

Yes, you can file an amended return online by filing Form 1040-X electronically. However, this only applies to 1040 and 1040-SR returns for tax years 2019 or later.

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