Taxpayers filing for the first time should look into Free File

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This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current law, policies or procedures.

Tax Tip 2020-09, January 28, 2020

Many people will be filing federal taxes for the first time this year. For these taxpayers, IRS Free File may be the perfect match, especially if they are looking to save money on tax preparation.

Most Free File users are under the age of 30 with modest incomes. The Free File adjusted gross income limit for 2020 is $69,000. For those who want to do their own taxes, Free File means free tax preparation, free electronic filing and free direct deposit, which is the fastest way to get a refund.

Free File features 10 brand-name tax software providers who are in a partnership with the IRS to offer their online products for free. Each provider sets additional eligibility requirements, generally based on age, state residency and income.

Taxpayers using Free File software for the first time will need a few things before starting. They will need:

  • Their Social Security number.
  • Their wage and income information. This is usually found on forms from their employer such as Form W-2 and Form 1099.
  • To make sure their parents are not claiming them as a dependent. Taxpayers whose parents are claiming them as a dependent may still file a separate tax return, but they cannot claim themselves as a dependent.
  • Documentation for all tax credits and deductions. Taxpayer should remember that the standard deduction has been greatly increased so that itemizing deductions may not be necessary
  • Prior-year adjusted gross income. This is required for all electronic tax returns as part of the user's electronic signature. Taxpayers who are first-time filers over the age of 16 can simply enter "0" as their prior-year income for signature purposes. For taxpayers who have filed before, their prior-year tax return will show their adjusted gross income.
  • Their bank account and routing number. Most people receive a tax refund. For these taxpayers, the fastest way to get their money is through direct deposit to a financial account.

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