IRS Free File available through Oct. 17 but, taxpayers shouldn’t wait to file 2021 returns

COVID Tax Tip 2022-142, September 15, 2022

Taxpayers who have not yet filed their 2021 tax return, should electronically file a complete and accurate return when they are ready, rather than wait until the last minute. For those who want to prepare their tax return themselves, IRS Free File remains available through the extension deadline, October 17, 2022.

IRS Free File is available to any person or family with adjusted gross income of $73,000 or less in 2021. The fastest way filers can get a refund is by electronically filing an accurate return and selecting direct deposit. There are eight Free File products available in English and two in Spanish.

The Free File program gives eligible people an opportunity to file their taxes and claim the 2021 recovery rebate credit, the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit, or other valuable credits they qualify to receive. Taxpayers can also use Free File to claim their remaining child tax credit or any advance payments they did not get in 2021.

Additionally, IRS Free File users can use IRS Direct Pay or other electronic options to submit their tax payment if they owe a balance.

Free File in four easy steps:

  1. Gather all necessary documents and income statements that support deductions and credits. Taxpayers should complete and e-file their tax return only when they have all their income and deduction statements in hand.
  2. Go to the Free File page of to see all filing options.
  3. Use the "Online Look Up" tool to find the right Free File product or use the "Browse All Offers" tool to review all options. Each IRS Free File partner sets its own eligibility standards, which are generally based on income, age and state residency.
  4. Select an IRS Free File provider and follow the link to their webpage to begin a tax return.

As an alternative, Free File Fillable Forms are electronic federal tax forms available to everyone, regardless of income. However, only people who are knowledgeable and comfortable preparing their own tax return should use them.

Special options for the military

MilTax is a free tax resource available for the military community, offered through the Department of Defense. MilTax is a suite of tax services available for members of the military, as well as qualifying veterans and family members. There are no income limits. MilTax includes tax preparation and electronic filing software, personalized support from tax consultants and current information about filing taxes. It's designed to address the realities of military life, including deployments, combat and training pay, housing and rentals and multi-state filings. Eligible taxpayers can use MilTax to electronically file a federal tax return and up to three state returns for free.

Active duty military members stationed in combat zones have more time to file their tax returns. However, those with spouses and families may choose to file as soon as they can to claim various tax benefits for which they may be eligible. If only one spouse is present to file a joint return, they must have proper authorization to file a joint tax return on behalf of their spouse. The IRS website has more tax information for members of the military.

Other electronic filing options

Commercial software also uses a question and answer format that makes doing taxes easier. Taxpayers sign e-filed returns electronically using the Self-Select PIN or prior-year adjusted gross Income. Generally, tax software automatically enters the information for returning customers. Taxpayers using a software product for the first time may have to enter the information manually. The return is securely transmitted through an IRS-approved electronic channel and checked for mistakes. If we find easy-to-fix mistakes, like a math error or an incorrect Social Security number, IRS immediately sends it back to the taxpayer to fix it and send it right back. This saves time and prevents a simple mistake from holding up the tax refund.

Tax professionals accepted by the electronic filing program are qualified to prepare, transmit and process e-filed returns. The Authorized IRS e-file Provider database is a nationwide listing of all businesses which have been accepted to participate in the IRS e-file program.

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