Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

E-filing saves time, money

by Neal Kedzie - State Senator

February 03, 2011

The Internet has brought research, shopping, music and news into our homes, and made it available at our fingertips 24 hours a day.

People can also pay bills, watch live video of the legislature, and do their banking all using their home internet connection. In addition, tax filers can also use the Internet to file their tax returns online as a way to not only save money, but to get your refund money faster.

Since 1999, Wisconsin tax filers have had the option to pay their taxes online. In response to the growing demand for this convenience, and the cost-savings it provides, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) has made filing a Wisconsin personal income tax return both easier and cheaper. The DOR expects about three million tax returns this year and more than 75 percent of those will be e-filed, making Wisconsin a national leader in e-filing.

One way to file your taxes electronically in Wisconsin is Free-File. Free-File is an online, fill-in-the-blank personal income tax return that can be filed from the DOR Web site. There is no charge for using the service, and all tax information is secure and confidential. This free electronic tax filing option offered to taxpayers is even available to residents filing for the Homestead Credit, as well as tax preparers.

Electronically filed tax returns are processed and refunds sent out in one week, no matter when the tax return is filed. By contrast, taxpayers filing paper forms near the April 15 deadline last year had to wait up to 12 weeks for their refunds.

To take advantage of the Free-File program, navigate to the DOR website at From there, you will find the red and black Free-File logo, which is a link you can click to begin preparing your forms. You will find introductory pages detailing eligibility requirements. First-time filers or taxpayers claiming certain credits, or filing some schedules may be ineligible to use the program.

In addition to the speed of the refund, electronic filing walks you through the tax form and does the math for you, provides immediate confirmation your return has been received, and offers an option to have your refund deposited electronically into your bank account. Electronically filed returns are also more accurate than standard paper forms, and most importantly, saves both you and the state money and resources.

If you feel you need assistance filing your taxes, and find yourself in a tight economic situation, you may be eligible for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. VITA sites are available to provide free tax preparation assistance around the state. Taxpayers can visit any VITA tax preparation site and have their taxes electronically prepared for free. For more information about VITA, check the DOR web site at and type in VITA, or call 211 to find a VITA or Tax Counseling for the Elderly site in your area.

In this day and age when you can buy a car or get a home loan over the Internet at any time of day or night, it only makes sense that we move beyond the snail mail system for filing tax returns. Electronic filing is one step toward bringing all of state government into the 21st century and making it more efficient and responsive to the people of Wisconsin. If you have any questions regarding Free-File program, you may contact the Department of Revenue at (608) 266-2772, or to check the status of your tax refund, call 866-WIS-RFND (866-947-7363), toll-free.

Kedzie can be reached in Madison at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI, 53707-7882, or by calling toll-free (800) 578-1457. He may be reached in the district at (262) 742-2025 or online at