Even filing electronically may not save you from this.
Even if you, Joe Taxpayer, file your taxes electronically (as most Americans do), you still might land in paper purgatory. Any issues with your “e-filed” return, and the IRS sends you a letter; then, you must reply by snail mail or fax.
E-filing is good for reasonably simple returns. Not so much for more complex returns. The problem is that the filer doesn’t know that the IRS hasn’t received the entire return until they get a letter that their return is late. Voice of experience. Paper from then on. Even it it takes many months.
I’m not sure what the difference is? e-file, and wait many months for them to tell you it’s incomplete, or paper file, and wait many months for them to process it (and if it’s also incomplete, wait many months for them to tell you that). At least with e-filing you can see a transcript online after a few weeks, and if the e-filing is complete, processing it should be much faster than processing a complete paper filing.
I had to paper file one year and it took way longer than any time I’ve e-filed, errors or not. Never again if I can at all avoid it.
I routinely e-file quite complicated returns with no issues. And all e-filing gets an acknowledgement of receipt or rejection within just a few minutes of transmitting the return.
As to paper filing, I had to file my own 2017 return on paper due to repeated rejections. That return is still not fully in the IRS system as of a few days ago.
E-file, and make sure you get an acknowledgement of filing. Then if you’re getting a refund, you can go to the IRS web site a week or so later to check on the status of your refund.
You can also set up an account with the IRS to view activity on your account on line. Some suggest that everyone should do that to make sure some identity thief can’t set up a fraudulent account in your name. (Ditto for Social Security.)
–Peter <== who e-files a few hundred returns every year with few, if any, problems.
Totally agree that e-filing is the way to go. I did it this year for the first time, and it was easy and fast. The IRS confirmed within minutes that my return had been accepted, and this is for a return based on 1099s from a half dozen brokers and hundreds of trades and transactions.