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How to e-File a 2021 Tax Return

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Over 71 million self-prepared returns were e-filed in 2020*)
Why eFile? Find out!

Taxes are dynamic as tax laws change, income tax rates or brackets adjust by tax year, and the lives of taxpayers change (e.g. marriage and filing status, education, home purchase or expense). As a taxpayer, you are either going to keep your hard earned income or you are going to hand it over to tax agencies, thus tax planning and tax return preparation is important. Filing electronically is available to almost all taxpayers, but there are reasons why you might not be able to e-File your taxes.

When you complete and e-File your 2021 Tax Return on eFile.com, the eFile Tax App will select the correct 2021 Tax Return forms for you based on your income, deduction, charity statements, etc. Simply answer a few questions during the tax interview and enter your data to allow the eFile app to select the proper forms.

Tax Return Preparation and e-Filing Steps

Take a look at this Tax Return Preparation Guide to start with. Use the steps below to prepare your taxes and eFileIT.

Step 1: Have your 2020 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and a copy of your IRS and State Income Tax Return(s) handy.

When you self-prepare and e-File your 2021 IRS Tax Return, you will need to validate your electronically prepared return by entering your 2020 AGI on your 2021 Return. If you have it handy now, skip to Step 2, otherwise read on.

  • If you prepared and e-filed IRS and state accepted 2020 Federal and State Returns on eFile.com, simply sign in and eFile.com will provide your 2020 AGI while you prepare your 2021 Return. You can find a copy of your return and AGI under My Account in your eFile.com account. Sign in here.
    • Find your 2020 AGI on line 11 of the Form 1040
    • The line number on your state tax return will depend on the state you filed - check your eFile.com return.
  • If you have a paper or PDF file of your 2020 Return regardless of the method of filing, see the same lines as listed above. If you don't have a copy of your 2020 Return(s) and filed via another website, visit that site and download your return. If you can't access your previous year account, or don't have a 2020 paper/PDF tax return copy, get an IRS Transcript online or via mail. You can also call 1-800-908-9946.
  • If you have been issued an Identity Protection (IP) PIN by the IRS via a CP01A, you need to have this handy and enter it when eFile.com prompts you. It will serve to verify your identity.
  • If you are a first-time eFiler on eFile.com over the age of 16, enter zero as your AGI. If you are under age of 16, you cannot e-file your tax return on eFile.com

Step 2: Gather your 2021 Documents, Receipts, Statements.

See a list of end of the year tax tips and print a detailed tax preparation checklist or use the list of documents, receipts, and other documents below to gather all necessary figures for your tax return. Tip: Scan and keep them as PDF's - you may be able to scan with a compatible printer/scanner and there are very easy-to-use mobile phone PDF scan apps. If you take this route, remember to back up your computer or mobile phone! Documents to retrieve include:

Step 3: Estimate, Question Before you Prepare and e-File.

Step 4: Paper Versus e-Filing a Tax Return?

  • When you e-File, get your tax refund faster (in as few as 7 days with direct bank deposit). See what your refund date could be with this free DATEucator. With eFile, get instant notification of receipt and check the status of your tax return or tax refund anytime.
  • eFile will calculate a more accurate tax return (1% error rate compared to 20% with paper tax returns) on our secure submission process while keeping your personal information private.
  • Get your tax return to the right place; don't worry about which processing center to send it to and avoid dealing with the frequent address changes that paper filers face. Get away from paper; no more trips to the post office and it's good for the environment.
  • Avoid tax penalties; eFile your return or extension by April 18, 2022 or earlier to avoid late fees and pay later even if you can't afford it now.
  • How to eFile Federal and State Tax Returns? With eFile.com, you can e-file your federal and state returns together. You can also file multiple state returns on the eFile app.
  • See also: why to choose eFile.com as your tax preparation service.

Step 5: Tax Return versus Tax Extension?

Step 6: What to do After you Prepared, e-Filed

Step 7:  The Last but not Least Step.

At the beginning of each new tax year, start collecting tax records, receipts, and documents. Begin recording dates as they occur now so you will be ready for Steps 1 and 2 next year. For example, gather your income related documents (pay stubs, 1099 forms, social security statements) and deduction related records (home purchase or sale, home mortgage records, property tax statements, tuition finance payments). You should also record moving dates if they apply to you. You might move across states, which will impact your state tax returns or you might move to a foreign country and generate income there.

Start Your Return Now

If you have to prepare and file for a previous year, or back taxes, please visit this page for tax year specific forms and tax calculators.

Reasons You Can't e-File Your Taxes

You may be unable to e-file a 2021 Return. Below, find a list of different reasons that may prevent you from e-filing your tax return:

Even if you cannot file electronically, you can generally still use eFile.com to prepare your return, but you will need to print and mail your return if any of reasons above are true.

More Resources on eFile.com

*) IRS e-File Tax Report

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