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To e-file or Not?
Old 02-18-2018, 07:34 PM   #1
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To e-file or Not?

Our new tax preparer is trying to talk us into e-filing rather than mailing our returns. I have read (accurately?) that most of the identity theft and false refunds hit people who e-file and not mail their returns. Reading the info WRT to the most recent scam, it appears this is not the case, but the result of preparers' computers getting hacked.

So, to e-file or not? Which is safer in your opinion?
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Old 02-18-2018, 07:50 PM   #2
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I have been e-filing for over 18 years without any issues. I use TurboTax or Taxcut (whichever is cheaper). Tax preparers are going to be joining travel agents on the endangered jobs list.
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Old 02-18-2018, 08:12 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by TrvlBug View Post
Our new tax preparer is trying to talk us into e-filing rather than mailing our returns. I have read (accurately?) that most of the identity theft and false refunds hit people who e-file and not mail their returns. Reading the info WRT to the most recent scam, it appears this is not the case, but the result of preparers' computers getting hacked.

So, to e-file or not? Which is safer in your opinion?
No. Identity theft and false refunds hit people who mail their returns too. Not efiling does not protect you from being a victim of tax fraud.
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Old 02-18-2018, 08:13 PM   #4
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I use mail, but not because of fraud. I always owe, so what's the rush?
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Old 02-18-2018, 09:19 PM   #5
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The fraudulent return is usually efiled but that has nothing to do with how the taxpayer files. Our efiled returns always get rejected so I stopped trying and always do paper returns for Fed and iFile for state. We still had a fraudulent return filed on both Fed and State. The state caught the fraud and notified us. I also just learned that a phony return was filed for another state at the same time. Haven't lived there since '79! I would eFile if I could just for the convenience.
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Old 02-18-2018, 11:42 PM   #6
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We try to always owe so we don’t have to deal with refund delays, but if our tax return is not accepted due to fraud I would still expect some major hassles and paperwork. So we try to file as soon as we can.
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Old 02-19-2018, 12:27 AM   #7
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I’ve eFiled Federal as long as it’s been an option, more than 10 years I’m sure. But I make sure we owe every year, always have, so there’s never a refund for a hacker to steal. I’ve screwed up twice and been due a small refund, this year actually, but our refund already hit checking last week so we’re already done with Federal for 2017. And I file as soon as I have all the info, but mail in what we owe just before the Apr deadline.
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Old 02-19-2018, 05:19 AM   #8
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Maybe a bit extreme but I always e file early even if I need to amend the return later. The first filing cuts off the fraudsters.
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Old 02-19-2018, 05:24 AM   #9
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Always efile & get direct deposit, botched estimated taxes this year and getting 1/2 back. It's supposed to be there Friday
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Old 02-19-2018, 05:25 AM   #10
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You can still efile the return and then just mail in your payment with 1040-V payment voucher. Depending on how many pages your return is, you save the postage and some paper.


You can file anytime before the filing deadline and still not mail the check until the mid-April.

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I use mail, but not because of fraud. I always owe, so what's the rush?
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Old 02-19-2018, 05:26 AM   #11
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You can also pay later online at IRS2GO, same with state
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Old 02-19-2018, 05:29 AM   #12
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efiling your return will prevent subsequent fraudsters that year efiling a bogus return in your name. The first one to file successfully, whether legitimate or not, will get the refund. You will not loose the refund if someone successfully files in your name before you do, however you will have to go through the IRS identity theft process and your return will be delayed.

If you are concerned about identity theft, my recommendation is to file credit freezes (ie the ones that you actually have to pay for) at the three credit bureaus. Beyond that just check your bank and CC statements in a timely fashion so that if there is a fraudulent transaction, the bank/CC company will be legally responsible for making you whole.

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Old 02-19-2018, 06:25 AM   #13
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Maybe a bit extreme but I always e file early even if I need to amend the return later. The first filing cuts off the fraudsters.
I always efile with no problems and never had to amend a return.

I efiled my daughter's taxes on February 7 after she assured me that she got all of her documents. Well, she forgot about a small job she helped a friend with and the W2 arrived late last week. I had to amend her return and she has to now mail 12 pages to the feds and 19 to the state for a measly $35 she owes the IRS and $14 to the state. Sometimes amending a return defeats the purpose of efile in my opinion.
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Old 02-19-2018, 06:43 AM   #14
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You filing by mail won't prevent a fraudster beating you to the punch with an efile.
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Old 02-19-2018, 06:53 AM   #15
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I have read (accurately?) that most of the identity theft and false refunds hit people who e-file and not mail their returns.
As others have said, that is kind of backwards. Most false refunds are e-filed by thieves who stole your identity. You e-filing or mailing your return has nothing to do with it.
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Old 02-19-2018, 07:19 AM   #16
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You filing by mail won't prevent a fraudster beating you to the punch with an efile.
And I see it repeated often... whether your calculations leave you owing has nothing to do with the fraudster being less successful. The fraudster puts in plenty of withholding and makes the tax owed less. Your "real" numbers have zero to do with it.
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Old 02-19-2018, 07:25 AM   #17
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And I see it repeated often... whether your calculations leave you owing has nothing to do with the fraudster being less successful. The fraudster puts in plenty of withholding and makes the tax owed less. Your "real" numbers have zero to do with it.
Thanks, I owe and eFile as early as possible, but I was afraid that wasn't much protection. Is there anything one can do to thwart tax refund fraud?
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Old 02-19-2018, 07:35 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by jwkde View Post
You can still efile the return and then just mail in your payment with 1040-V payment voucher. Depending on how many pages your return is, you save the postage and some paper.


You can file anytime before the filing deadline and still not mail the check until the mid-April.
I efile early but schedule EFTPS to take out the payment on April 15.
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Old 02-19-2018, 07:35 AM   #19
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And I see it repeated often... whether your calculations leave you owing has nothing to do with the fraudster being less successful. The fraudster puts in plenty of withholding and makes the tax owed less. Your "real" numbers have zero to do with it.
That's useful information. But I'm not really worried about IRS fraud, that's their problem. Since I won't have a refund, any identity verification process won't be holding up a refund for me. It's good to see I can e-file and mail in the check or e-pay later. I do tend to wait on doing my taxes, as they are fairly complex and a royal PITA. But I can see that for others who get refunds filing early and trying to beat the fraudsters might be worth it.

I wonder what it's going to be like next year, with the new tax plan? I might have to pre-do my taxes just to make sure I'm not getting a refund under the new plan. If I do I'll have to do the whole e-file-early-and-beat-the-crooks process. I'm sure that after the first year I'll be able to work the numbers again so as to consistently not get one. But that first time might trip me up.
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Old 02-19-2018, 07:45 AM   #20
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Thanks, I owe and eFile as early as possible, but I was afraid that wasn't much protection. Is there anything one can do to thwart tax refund fraud?
Other than credit freezes, which won’t necessarily protect you from tax fraud but might make it harder for someone to claim they are you if they contact the IRS and go through identity verification, early filing seems to be the best protection.

The IRS has stepped their end of it. Returns with refunds are more carefully scrutinized. And I believe they now verify against employer W2 data before giving refunds - employers are now required to supply W2 data much earlier to the IRS

If someone has your name, address and SS, they could still mess things up.
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