Great question! The IRS and most states require taxpayers to e-file their tax returns. Sometimes though there’s legitimate reasons why a return will be paper filed instead. Here's a few of them!
E-filing isn't allowed
Some federal and state tax authorities will not accept an e-filed return when the return contains certain tax elections, certain forms, certain attachments, too many attachments, etc. When this occurs, the return must be paper filed. Every year more and more forms on a federal and state level can be e-filed. The challenge is tax laws are usually changed immediately before filing season, requiring tax authorities to quickly update their systems with the new rules.
Most amended returns cannot be e-filed. Either the form cannot be e-filed OR the amount of required attachments are too many for the e-filing system to handle. To ensure the amendment is properly handed, a paper return is used instead.
Injured Spouse Relief
When one spouse has certain debts, such as past due taxes, unpaid student loans, unpaid child support payments, etc. the Department of the Treasury might offset the refund. They will remit the offset to the appropriate government agency. Injured spouse relief can be requested on a paper filed return when filing a return as married filing joint. While injured spouse relief can generally be included on an e-filed tax return, we've typically found that you won't know about the offset until after the original return was filed.
Sometimes a return is simply rejected from the e-filing system. This can occur for many reasons, such as not providing us with your IP Pin, you changed your name, had a change in filing status, had a business name change and filing a return type that is different than what the IRS expected. State tax authorities reject returns for additional reasons, such as not providing them with a correct phone number, drivers license number, etc. The IRS and states don't have the resources to figure out these types of issues, so they simple require a paper filing instead.
Your Tax Preparer Has a Good Reason
While e-filing a return is our preferred filing method, sometimes there's a good reason to not e-file a tax return. Sometimes it could be because we want a physical signature on the return or want to ensure the attachments are properly transmitted on an important election that must be filed on time. There's additional reasons why paper filing is preferred over e-filing, we'll be sure to discuss them with you too.
How to Paper File a Return
Paper filing a return is super simple with us! Rather than receiving the final copy of your return via our e-signing partner, you'll instead receive a package in the mail from us (our tax admin team will email you when the package is mailed). When you open the package it will include a filing copy of the return, a copy for your records, a pre-addressed envelope and certified mail with return receipts. The entire return is packaged so that you can simply sign it, place it in the envelope and bring it to the post office. The post office will provide you with date stamped proof you've mailed the return (keep this with your important files) and they will mail us proof the return was accepted, which we will keep in our files.