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Free File: About the Free File Alliance

The Free File Alliance is a group of industry-leading private-sector tax preparation companies that have agreed to provide free commercial online tax preparation and electronic filing. All Alliance members must meet our rigorous standards for security and privacy.
 

What are the objectives of the Free File Agreement?

  • Provide greater access to free, online tax filing options
  • Make tax filing and preparation easier and reduce burden on individual taxpayers, and
  • Increase growth of e-filing to reach our goal of having 80 percent of returns filed electronically.


Why was the Free File Alliance formed?
In November of 2001, the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Quicksilver Task Force established 24 e-government initiatives that were a part of the President's Management Agenda. These initiatives were designed to improve government to government, government to business and government to citizen electronic capabilities.

One initiative, IRS Free File, instructed the IRS to provide free and secure online tax return preparation and filing services to taxpayers. In accordance with this OMB directive, we worked in partnership with the tax software industry to develop a solution. The result was the formation of the Free File Alliance, LLC.

Why is IRS working in a partnership with private industry rather than providing its own software free to the public?
Private industry, with established expertise and experience in electronic tax preparation, has a proven track record in providing the best technology and services available. 

Some private sector firms have offered free e-filing to select taxpayer groups for several years; how is this approach different?
Free File offers a multi-year agreement between IRS and the Free File Alliance to provide free service(s) to more taxpayers. Previously, free offerings were not consistently available and were subject to modification or discontinuation from year-to-year.

With Free File, taxpayers have easy access to IRS.gov, which offers a list of all free offerings on a single web page. Under our agreement, Free File Alliance companies offer both free preparation and free e-filing services. There is no cost to qualifying taxpayers. 

How are Free File program disputes solved?
We negotiate most issues before they become disputes. When necessary, we use binding arbitration to resolve disagreements with the Free File Alliance, LLC, Alliance members or new market entrants. In accordance with IRS guidance, binding arbitration before the General Services Board of Contract Appeals is used to resolve disputes under Article VIII of the Memorandum of Understanding on Service Standards and Disputes between IRS and the Alliance. Binding arbitration may be invoked by an Alliance member or new market entrant for various reasons. As a result, we are able to achieve our goal of providing effective, efficient and fair resolution of Free File program related controversies.
 

Note: We do not endorse any individual Free File Alliance company. While the IRS manages the content of the Free File pages accessible on IRS.gov, it does not retain any taxpayer information entered on the Free File site.

Agreements
Free File Alliance Information
Free On-Line Electronic Tax Filing Agreement - 2014
Free On-Line Electronic Tax Filing Agreement Amendment - 2009
Free On-Line Electronic Tax Filing Agreement Amendment - 2005
Free On-Line Electronic Filing Agreement - 2002

Memorandums of Understanding
Free File (Sixth) Memorandum of Understanding - 2014
Free File (Fifth) Memorandum of Understanding - 2010

Free File (Fourth) Memorandum of Understanding - 2009
Free File (Third) Memorandum of Understanding - 2008
Free File (Second) Memorandum of Understanding - 2007
Free File (First) Memorandum of Understanding - 2006

 

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 24-Jul-2014