Do you need to choose an e-file provider for your Information Return forms? We break the process down into 7 simple steps.
There are many e-file providers out there. Some are local while others are online. Some involve downloading software while others are completely online. How do you choose one? Go through these 7 steps and you’ll narrow down the vast options quickly.
- Find what forms they support.
- Learn how their service works and what it includes.
- Discover when their deadlines are.
- Figure out when they provide customer service.
- Determine if they offer e-delivery and TIN Checking.
- Compare costs.
- Test them.
Step 1: Find what forms they support.
Your business operates in a specific fashion with a unique number of employees and contractors or vendors. How your business operates will determine what forms you need to submit come tax time. When choosing an e-file provider, it’s important to check that they work with all the forms you need. This helps you organize your forms as you work on them, access them later on, and reuse data next year.
Trying to use multiple e-file providers for a similar service can be time-consuming and frustrating. That’s why eFile360 supports a variety of forms to meet your needs, including 1099, 1098, W-2, and ACA forms. Visit this page to see all forms supported.
Step 2: Learn how their service works and what it includes.
Each e-file provider works a little differently, so it’s important to compare their services. Find out if their service requires that you download software, visit a specific location in-person, or go to a specific website. Which option appeals to you more?
Once you determine where you need to go, learn what their service includes. Do you need E-file + Print & Mail, E-file Only, or Print & Mail Only? If you don’t do any filing of Information Return forms in your office, you will likely need the E-file + Print & Mail option, which most e-file providers offer. But what if you do file from your office? Then you need the Print & Mail Only option. What if you want to print and mail recipient copies, but you don’t want to file? Then you need E-file Only. Compare these options among e-file providers and ensure they offer the exact service your business needs.
Step 3: Discover when their deadlines are.
Each form has a submission deadline, and for each form, each provider will have its own deadline for accepting orders so they have ample time to e-file on your behalf. At eFile360, our deadline for accepting 1099-MISC forms is Jan. 31 at 5 p.m. EST. We offer these hours to help you if you need to e-file last-minute and want to avoid any late penalty from the IRS. To learn more about eFile360’s deadlines, visit this page.
Step 4: Figure out when they provide customer service.
Not every e-file provider is backed by a customer service team that is dedicated to your e-filing success, which is why it’s important to figure out if and when they provide customer service. Are they only open during regular business hours? Do their business hours change during tax season? Do these hours work with your schedule?
In addition to the times they’re available, you will want to know what formats they provide customer service. Do these formats meet your communication preference? eFile360 offers phone, email, and chat communication.
Receiving customer service when you need it is so important, especially when it’s related to your taxes. While you may not need assistance when completing your e-file forms, it can be beneficial to know that you have a team that is there if you do need them.
Step 5: Determine if they offer e-delivery and TIN Checking.
Not every e-file provider offers e-delivery. E-delivery is the option to add your recipients’ email addresses to your order so we can send them the opportunity to view their copies online instead of via mail. This is a secure option as no private data is revealed in the email itself. Not only does this option reduce paper waste and time, but it is also very convenient for many people.
With eFile360, we guarantee that your recipients will receive their copies, even if, for some reason, they don’t receive the email. In this case, we will mail paper copies to fulfill this requirement.
Not every e-file provider offers TIN Checking. A TIN Check inspects the SSN or EIN on each form to ensure it matches with the recipient’s name. If it does, the form is filed. If it does not, the e-file provider informs you so you may fix the number before we attempt to e-file the form again. Accuracy is vital to avoid IRS penalties for filing an inaccurate or missing TIN.
E-delivery and TIN Checking are valuable options for many businesses, but they may not be important to your business; however, we want you to know about these options so you can best serve your recipients and save your business from IRS penalties.
Step 6: Compare costs.
E-file providers have different costs associated with their services. While staying in your budget is important, it’s best not to focus on pricing until you’ve determined which e-file providers will meet your other needs first.
When comparing costs, answer the following questions:
- Does e-filing cost a flat fee or is there a membership fee, too?
- Can I register for a free account or do I need to pay for an account?
- Are mailing fees included in the e-filing costs?
- Does correction e-filing cost more than the initial e-filing?
- Are there any annual fees, membership-based or otherwise?
- Do they offer volume pricing?
To make it easy for you, here are the answers for eFile360:
- E-filing costs a flat fee. There is no membership fee.
- eFile360 offers free accounts.
- Mailing fees are included in the e-filing cost under E-file + Print & Mail.
- Correction filing costs the same as any other filing. View our prices here.
- eFile360 does not have any annual fees.
- eFile360 offers volume pricing.
Step 7: Test them.
When you’ve narrowed down your e-file provider options to one or only a few, it’s time to test their services. After all, if a provider seems like it will meet your needs but their platform isn’t user-friendly, it’s time to try a different provider.
If multiple providers seem to offer the same services, try both out. Create accounts for each and test their services by ordering forms through them. From this experience, determine which provider you prefer and save those details for next year.
Comparing e-file providers doesn’t have to be a time-consuming exercise. With these 7 steps, you can confidently choose the right e-file provider for your business’s needs.
Are you ready to test eFile360? Register for a free account.