In its ongoing campaign to improve quality, efficiency, and customer service, the IRS has announced that it will allow taxpayers to file all major tax returns online, starting with the 2024 tax season.
What are the expectations for paperless tax filing? Among other things, the elimination of the IRS’s massive catalog of 200 million pieces of paper per year, slashing processing time and speeding up refunds.
The ball gets rolling in 2024 filing season, when taxpayers will have the option to file taxes online, free of charge, using a software system developed by the IRS and the U.S. Digital Service, the White House’s technology consulting agency.
Other highlights of the inaugural paperless initiative include:
- The ability to digitally submit all correspondence, non-tax forms, and responses to notices from the IRS.
- The ability to e-file certain additional tax forms, including amendments to 940, 941, and 941SSPR forms.
- Digital, mobile-friendly formats will be available for at least 20 of the most used non-tax forms. These forms should be easy to complete and submit and will include a Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance for help with questions.
By the 2025 filing season, the IRS plans to “achieve paperless processing for tax returns.” According to a statement by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, this "Paperless Processing initiative is the key that unlocks other customer service improvements.” Among the improvements expected from the initiative:
- An additional 150 of the most commonly used non-tax forms will become available in digital formats for mobile use. This is key to serving those Americans who rely on mobile phones for Internet access.
- All paper-filed tax and information returns will be digitally processed by the IRS. This is expected to improve service by drastically cutting processing times and expediting taxpayer returns.
- The digitizing of up to 60 million paper-submitted non-tax forms, correspondence, and notice responses, with an expectation that all these types of paper documents will be digitized by filing season 2026.
- Up to 1 billion historical documents will also be digitized to improve customer service and give taxpayers access to their data.
These improvements are funded by the landmark Inflation Reduction Act, which increased the IRS budget by approximately $80 billion over 10 years. After years of insufficient manpower, the IRS immediately allotted $1 billion to hire customer service and enforcement staff for the 2023 season. This follows an investment in March of 2023 in new scanning technology to quickly and accurately scan and process returns.
Of course, taxpayers will continue to have the option to file their taxes on paper. With digitization, the overall process is vastly more streamlined. However, the IRS stresses that digital filing is the preferred way to get taxes filed—and refunds to the taxpayer more quickly.
Answers to questions surrounding the IRS Paperless Initiative
If you are a taxpayer, tax professional, or have a business question about how paperless filing will impact you, talk to the tax group at Robert J. Fedor, Esq., LLC. With offices in Chicago and Cleveland, our knowledgeable attorneys are here to help. For more information, contact our office or call us at 800-579-0997.