IRS Tax Tip 2011-11 - January 17, 2011
Everyone can prepare and e-file their federal tax returns for free through the IRS Free File Program. Free File is offered through a public-private partnership between the Internal Revenue Service and brand-name tax software companies. Free File can help you do your taxes fast; it’s safe and it doesn’t cost anything.
Free File offers two options: easy-to-use software or online fillable forms.
Free File software is for taxpayers who earn $58,000 or less
Nearly 100 million Americans – that’s 70 percent of the nation’s taxpayers – can use the free brand-name software and secure e-filing offered by private-sector companies. Several software products also are in Spanish. Each company sets its eligibility requirements, generally based on income, age or state residency. However, if your adjusted gross income was $58,000 or less in 2010, you will find at least one tax software product to use.
Here’s how it works: You must access Free File through the IRS website. At /freefile, you can use an online tool which allows you to give a little information about yourself and the tool will guide you to the software for which you are eligible. Or, you can review the complete list of companies and their offerings and make a selection.
Once you select a software product, you will be directed away from the IRS website to that company’s website. There, the software generally will offer a step-by-step guide through the tax preparation process.
Free File does all the hard work. You don’t need to be a tax expert; the software will help find tax breaks, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, that you may be due. The software asks the questions; you supply the answers. It will find the right tax forms and do the math. Free File has a high satisfaction rate among its users, 98% recommend it to others. Combine e-file and direct deposit and you get your refund in as few as 10 days.
A word about security: all Free File companies use the latest is secure technology. The safety of taxpayer information is everyone’s priority. Thirty million taxpayers have used Free File since 2003, safely and securely.
Some companies provide state tax return software – sometimes for free and sometimes for a fee. Some states also have a relationship with the Free File Alliance and those states are listed on the companies’ websites.
Free File Fillable Forms Is Another Free Option
For people who make more than $58,000 or who are comfortable preparing their own tax return, there is Free File Fillable Forms. It also must be accessed through /freefile. There is no software assistance with Free File Fillable Forms. It does basic math calculations. It does not support state income tax returns. It is perfect for the true do-it-yourself taxpayer who has preferred paper tax returns in the past. It also has free e-filing.