An improved version of IRS Free File, now in its 17th filing season, is available as a dozen private-sector partners offer their brand-name products to help eligible taxpayers navigate the new tax reform law and electronically prepare their tax returns.
The free online software program, accessible only through IRS.gov, is available for taxpayers to use in advance of the start of the filing season on Jan. 28.
A number of changes were made to Free File this year, strengthening the program to make it even more taxpayer friendly. More than 53 million taxpayers have used Free File since the program’s inception. The public-private partnership between the Internal Revenue Service and the Free File Alliance provides free, brand-name tax software and free electronic filing to taxpayers who earned $66,000 or less last year. Some providers offer both free federal and free state tax preparation. Active duty military personnel with incomes of $66,000 or less may use any Free File software product offering a military option without regard to other criteria.
“Free File is an important tool that allows taxpayers free access to electronic filing of their tax returns,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “The program has been a great partnership with the private sector, and we’ve taken steps to improve Free File this year. With these changes to the Free File program as well as the new tax law, this is a great year for people to consider using this option for preparing their taxes.”
Taxpayers can go to www.irs.gov/freefile to find the Free File software product that matches their situation. Each partner sets its own eligibility standards, generally based on age, income or state residency. Taxpayers can do their taxes online from IRS.gov or they can use the IRS2Go mobile app to access Free File and do their taxes on their mobile phones, tablets or any app-enabled device.
For taxpayers who earned more than $66,000, there is Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms which will be available when the IRS begins the filing season on Jan. 28.
Who can use Free File
Any individual or family whose adjusted gross income for 2018 was $66,000 or less can find at least one Free File software product they can use. Often, taxpayers are eligible for multiple products. The income limitation means that 100 million taxpayers – 70 percent – are eligible to use Free File.
Workers, families with children, first-time filers and seniors who meet the income criteria are all eligible for Free File. The software supports all the new tax law changes as well as long-time benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. While most products have a set of eligibility requirements, 10 Free File partners have a special offer for active duty military personnel by making their sole eligibility criteria an income of $66,000 or less.
IRS Free File is all that’s needed for residents of Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming where there is no state income tax. Some Free File partners offer free federal and free state return preparation. And some states have their own Free File program.
How to use Free File
Taxpayers can only access Free File from IRS.gov. To get started, simply go to IRS.gov/freefile. Use the “Help Me” tool to enter a bit of information such as age, income, and state residency. The tool will match the taxpayer with the software products. Generally, taxpayers will have several options from which to choose. Taxpayers also can review all the offers made by each of the 12 partners if they do not want to use the tool. Once taxpayers make their selection, they will be directed away from IRS.gov to the provider’s website to prepare their return.
Also, taxpayers can use the IRS2Go app to access Free File. Simply download the IRS2Go app onto any app-enabled device. From their phones or tablets, taxpayers can access the “Help Me” tool and go to the provider’s website to do their taxes.
Free File will be available to taxpayers through the mid-October deadline for extension filers. Taxpayers, regardless of income, also can use Free File to file an extension from the April 15 deadline.
Do you Have a Federal Tax Problem You Need Help With?
The Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic – Low Income Taxpayer Clinic can consult with you to provide advice regarding your IRS tax problem, and/or potentially act on your behalf for FREE if you qualify for assistance (come to a clinic intake session)!
Jim Floyd is the Staff Enrolled Agent at the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic – Low Income Taxpayer Clinic. As an Enrolled Agent, Jim is a federally-licensed tax practitioner with unlimited rights to represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service. This means he is unrestricted as to which taxpayers he can represent, what types of tax matters he can handle, and which IRS offices he can represent clients before. Enrolled agent status is the highest credential the IRS awards.
Jim is also a member of The American Society of Tax Problem Solvers (ASTPS), a non-profit professional association of practitioners that specialize in representing taxpayers before the IRS and other taxing authorities. Membership in ASTPS reflects commitment to excellence and high standards in taxpayer representation
Source: Internal Revenue Service