You Might Be Able to File Your Taxes With the IRS for Free

You Might Be Able to File Your Taxes With the IRS for Free

Taxpayers in 12 states will have the first chance to test out the Internal Revenue Services’ new pilot program that will allow taxpayers to file their federal tax return online for free. 

The program, known as Direct File, began rolling out in phases in January to ensure that the service is “easy to use” and accessible, the IRS said. Certain government employees were invited to test out the service first, though the number of taxpayers who can use the program will later expand throughout the 2023 tax season.

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Eligible taxpayers will be able to follow a step-by-step guide to file their taxes and can benefit from access to a real-time representative who can provide support Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Time. The program is available to use on a computer, smartphone, or tablet, and is available in both English and Spanish.

However, taxpayers should be aware that they will only be able to prepare their federal tax returns through Direct File and will be directed to a separate site to file state taxes, if that service is available in your state. 

Here’s what to know about the program.  

Who is eligible for Direct File? 

As of right now, Direct File is only available in states that have, or were able to develop, their own state tax filing solution. That means the pilot program is limited to residents who live in: Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, or Wyoming. 

Direct File is also only available to taxpayers with certain types of income, and who are “claiming limited credits and deductions,” according to the IRS. That means that taxpayers who itemize deductions, have business or gig economy income, and claim credits like the child and dependent care credit, will not be able to use Direct File. 

You can find out if you are eligible for Direct File by filling out this IRS survey. 

What is IRS Free File?

Direct File is not to be confused with IRS Free File, a separate federal tax software that allows eligible taxpayers to file their federal tax returns for free. That program, which began in 2003,  is part of a public-private partnership between the IRS and tax preparation companies, and provides taxpayers with two options. 

Taxpayers who make an adjusted gross income of $79,000 or less can use the Guided Tax Software, whichlets the software do the work” after a user answers simple questions. The software also allows users to file taxes in Spanish.

Taxpayers can also choose the free file fillable forms option, which provides general instructions on how to file taxes, instead of completing the work for a taxpayer.

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