FS-2018-4, March 2018
The IRS expects taxpayers to file about 155 million federal tax returns this year. The tax agency and its partners offer some free options for taxpayers who prepare and file their own 2017 tax return. Taxpayers who need help with preparing and filing also have places to turn.
Free File and Free File Fillable Forms
Do-it-yourselfers should look at IRS Free File. Free File is available only through IRS.gov. New and returning taxpayers must access Free File through the IRS's website. Otherwise, the e-file provider may charge them a fee. This program offers two options:
- Free File. Taxpayers who earned $66,000 or less qualify to use Free File. They can use one of 12 brand-name tax software products offered for free. Some companies offer free state tax return filing as well. Taxpayers now may also access Free File products using a mobile device in two ways: (1) Use the IRS2Go app, which has a link to the Free File Software Lookup Tool, or (2) use the device’s browser to go to www.irs.gov/freefile. The IRS2Go free app is available at Apple, Google and Amazon app stores.
- Free File Fillable Forms. Taxpayers who earned more than $66,000 can use Free File Fillable Forms. This product is the electronic version of IRS paper forms. Free File Fillable Forms may be best for those comfortable preparing their own tax return with little assistance. Users should first review the user guide and determine if their digital device is compatible. Free File Fillable Forms does allow taxpayers to enter their tax data, perform basic math calculations, sign electronically, print their returns and e-file for free.
Volunteer Tax Preparers
Free tax preparation is available at VITA and TCE sites located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other convenient locations across the country.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites. IRS-certified volunteers staff these sites. They provide free tax preparation services, including electronic filing. VITA sites generally serve:
- people who make $54,000 or less,
- persons with disabilities, and
- taxpayers who speak limited English.
Tax Counseling for the Elderly sites. The TCE program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 and older. They specialize in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues that are unique to seniors. The IRS-certified volunteers who provide tax counseling are often retirees associated with nonprofit organizations that receive grants from the IRS.
Taxpayers can check for the nearest TCE site by using the VITA/TCE Locator on IRS.gov. They can also use the AARP Tax-Aide Site Locator or call the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide Program — the IRS’s largest TCE partner — at 888-227-7669.
Tax Forms and Publications
All IRS forms, instructions and publications are available on the IRS.gov website, which continues to be the best way to get tax forms and publications. It's quick, easy, free and always available. To view and download tax products, use the “Forms and Instructions” tab on IRS.gov.
Taxpayers can download and view popular tax publications and Form 1040 Instructions on mobile devices such as a tablet at no charge. The IRS eBooks effort offers an easy way to read and review some of the most used IRS tax products. For example, through eBooks, taxpayers can view Form 1040 instructions, Publication 17 and other tax publications. The eBook format makes it much easier to navigate a publication, adjust the print size and add comments or bookmarks on mobile devices. It also makes materials more accessible for users who are visually impaired.
The complete list of eBook publications is available at irs.gov/ebooks. Tax publications are available on IRS.gov in PDF and HTML versions.
In addition, taxpayers can order free IRS tax forms, instructions and publications online or by phone. Taxpayers can:
Help in Other Languages and Formats
For access to content in Spanish, taxpayers can click on “Español” from the IRS website. In addition to tax information for individuals and businesses, taxpayers will find IRS Free File options in Spanish and useful tools like ¿Dónde está mi reembolso? and Asistente EITC. The IRS.gov newsroom offers updates through Noticias en Español.
Information about credits, deductions and tax law changes is available on the IRS’s YouTube channels. English videos are at IRSvideos. Spanish videos are at IRSvideosmultilingual and American Sign Language is at IRSvideosASL.
A variety of Braille materials are available for download from IRS.gov in .txt and .brf format. Text files can be opened or read by any program that reads text, including Microsoft Word and Notepad. This format also works well with screen enlargers, refreshable Braille displays and screen reading software. The Braille Ready File format is a widely recognized form of contracted Braille that can be read with a refreshable Braille display or embossed to produce high quality hard-copy Braille. Some mobile devices can read .brf files using eBook reading software.
- Publication 5136, IRS Services Guide