Electronic Filing Overview
What are the benefits?
- Get your refund faster - e-filed refunds are issued in about 4 weeks whereas refunds from paper filed returns can take up to 11 weeks.
- Proof of receipt - confirmation that your return was received and accepted (or rejected)
- Convenient - available online 24 / 7. File your federal and Virginia state tax return at the same time.
- Easy - more user friendly with step-by-step instructions
- More accurate processing - fewer math errors because the software catches many mistakes
- "One Stop Shop" - prepare and file your federal and Virginia tax returns at the same time
- Electronic banking - convenience of direct deposit for refunds and direct debit for payment of tax owed
- Warehouse payments - file now and pay later. Decide what day we debit your bank account for your tax payment.
- Saves paper and postage - no mailing of paper returns or W-2 statements
- Safe and secure - safer than mailing your tax return
Is e-file secure?
Yes! Over 2.9 million Virginia taxpayers filed their tax return electronically last year. Electronic filing is more secure than mailing a tax return. An electronic return is encrypted and cannot be read as it is being transmitted from your computer.
The key to safety begins with you and your computer. Always make sure your computer is using current anti-virus software and anti-spyware software. You should also have a firewall to protect your computer while on the Internet. For more information on protecting your personal information online, refer to the Citizens Guide to Online Protection.
When using any website to transmit personal data, look for a "closed lock" icon on your screen, generally in the lower right-hand corner. This shows that you have a secured/encrypted link. You should also see an "s" added to the end of the "http" in the address line at the top of your screen. This means it is a secure/trusted site. If you do not see these security indicators, do not reveal your personal data.
All Free File and commercial software vendors must adhere to the strict privacy standards of the IRS.
Returns eligible for electronic filing
The following returns are eligible to be filed electronically, but you must still confirm that the option you choose supports the return(s) you want to file.
- Resident Returns (Form 760)
- Amended Resident Returns (Form 760)
- Part-year Resident Returns (Form 760PY)
- Amended Part-year Resident Returns (Form 760PY)
- Nonresident Returns (Form 763)
- Amended Nonresident Returns (Form 763)
- Deceased returns, including joint returns filed by spouses
- Prior year returns
- Fiduciary returns (Form 770)
Returns that cannot be filed electronically:
- Returns containing withholding reported on Form 4852, substitute W-2 or 1099-R
- 763S Virginia Special Nonresident Claim for Individual Income Tax Withheld
- Any Virginia income tax return when the federal return is a U.S. Nonresident Alien or Dual-Status Income Tax return (Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ)
How do I use e-file?
All e-file software is designed so that you navigate through a series of questions asking only for the information needed based on the type of return you are filing. All e-file software will automatically check for completeness, correct errors, generate the applicable schedules and transmit the return from your computer to the IRS's system and to the Virginia Tax system.
There are 3 ways to file your Virginia individual income tax return online:
- Free File - a free federal and state income tax preparation and electronic filing program for eligible taxpayers that was developed through a partnership between groups of private sector tax software companies. Eligible customers may prepare and file their federal and state income tax returns for free using software provided by specific Free File vendors.
- Approved Software Products - for customers that do not meet the eligibility criteria for Free File. These products charge a fee to prepare your federal and state return - there is no additional fee for filing the return electronically.
- Free File Fillable Forms - Only supports the Virginia resident return (Form 760) and schedules. An electronic version of the paper form that you fill out online with the added bonus of being able to electronically file the return when you complete it. There are no income eligibility requirements. Any Virginia resident can complete the resident return and schedules using Free Fillable Forms. The program provides basic mathematical calculations and basic field error checking. It does not ask about or explain tax situations, automatic calculations or do extensive error checking. Find out more in the Free Fillable Forms FAQ.
Why are e-filed returns more accurate?
All e-file software checks for math errors and calculations, which reduces mistakes. It will also prompt you only for the applicable information that is needed based on the type of return you are filing. In addition, most software will remember you the following year, dramatically reducing the need to re-enter information.
How do I sign my return?
With e-file software, customers sign their return using an electronic signature by creating an electronic personal identification number (PIN). Simple step-by-step instructions are provided in the software to help you set up a PIN. Your federal return will require you to enter a separate PIN from your state return.
Do I still need to mail in my W-2 and 1099 statements?
No. You will enter all of the applicable information from your W-2s and 1099s into whichever e-file software you decide to use. Once you provide the information electronically, you retain all paper copies of the W-2s and 1099s with your tax records.
How do I pay if I owe?
You have multiple options to pay the tax due on your e-filed return.
- Direct Debit - e-file software allows you to pay your tax due through an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) direct debit. Simply identify your bank account information and the date you want to make the payment, so your tax can be paid electronically.
- Credit Card - You can pay by credit card by calling a toll-free service 800.272.9829 by visiting the Official Payments website.
- Check - If you do not want to pay electronically, you may e-file your return and mail a paper check for your payment.
- Online Services - Virginia Tax's Online Services for Individuals is a free online tax payment system that allows you to make payments directly from your checking or savings accounts. This can only be used after the return has been filed.
If I have a balance due and can't pay right now, is there a payment plan available?
Paying your taxes in full and on time avoids unnecessary penalties and interest. However, if you cannot pay your taxes in full, file your return without the payment.
When you receive a bill for the tax due from Virginia Tax, you should contact the Virginia Tax Teleplan option at 804.440.5100 to set up a payment plan.
If I use a tax preparer, may I still electronically file?
Yes, most tax preparers are authorized to e-file your return for you. Please let your tax preparer know that you want your return to be e-filed.
Software and Website Questions
Where do I go for help if I have questions with the software I'm using?
Check the software vendor's website for customer service options such as online assistance or an email address for technical assistance. We cannot provide technical assistance for commercial software products.