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Free File 2024 is open, with 8 companies offering no-cost tax return prep and e-filing

Free File screen on taxpayer laptop

Free File is back for its 22nd filing season. 

The no-cost tax preparation and e-filing partnership between the Internal Revenue Service and tax software manufacturers opened today, Friday, Jan. 12, to eligible taxpayers.

This year, Free File eligible taxpayers are those whose 2023 adjusted gross income, regardless of filing status, was $79,000 or less.

8 software options: Eight private-sector tax software companies are part of this 22nd Free File season. They are —

  • 1040Now
  • Drake (1040.com)
  • ezTaxReturn.com
  • FileYourTaxes.com
  • On-Line Taxes
  • TaxAct
  • TaxHawk (FreeTaxUSA)
  • TaxSlayer

Each IRS Free File provider sets its own eligibility rules for products based on age, income, and state residency.

This filing season, ezTaxReturn.com will provide an IRS Free File product in Spanish.

Some providers also offer free state return preparation. Others focus on filings by military personnel.

The photo strips sprinkled in this post give you a brief look at each of the companies' offerings and some of their requirements.

Free File 2024-1

 

Go to the source: If you use a search engine to find free tax filing, you'll likely discover other options. You'll also probably get such offers in your email box.

But the only official, IRS-sanctioned Free File option is the one on the IRS website.

To get there, type Free File in the search box at the upper right of IRS.gov. That search result will give you a link to the agency's recommended link, Free File: Do Your Federal Taxes for Free.

 

Free File 2024_2


Be a careful tax shopper: Unless you've used one of this year's Free File programs before and are happy with it, shop around. And even if you do find your prior Free File company, make sure it hasn't changed his year.

It's as important to thoroughly check out the free services, just as you would any you pay for, to ensure your choice covers your filing needs.

Such examination is particularly important for taxpayers who also must file a state tax return.

As noted earlier, some, but not all, this year's Free File providers offer free state tax prep an e-filing. Some offer it, but for a fee. And some companies that do offer free state filing only do so for certain states.

So double check the state details if this feature is important to you.

You also should check with your state tax department about free tax preparation and filing options. Most offer at least some form of free e-filing for their residents. This would mean going to different sites to fulfill all your tax responsibilities, but if you can complete your state returns for free, the added work is likely worth it.

You can compare the various Free File possibilities by using IRS.gov's Browse All Trusted Partners interactive page. There you can set parameters to help narrow your search.

Or you can use the Free File lookup tool. This online search option asks you a series of questions about your tax situation and then provides you with Free File matches.

 

Free File 2024-3


Early, but held, filings: Today's Free File kick off is Free File is two weeks ahead of the full 2024 tax season start on Monday, Jan. 29.

The Free File providers will accept completed tax returns starting today, but that doesn't mean IRS employees will start processing them. The Free File companies will hold the returns it gets in advance of Jan. 29, and hold them until they can be filed electronically in a couple of weeks.

But the taxpayers who use Free File now and before Jan. 29 will be done with this year's tax task. The box below has more on how you can use Free File to take "file your taxes" off your to-do list.

 

What you need to use Free File

Tax filing is always easier if you're ready. So that your Free File experience will be a successful one with as little stress as possible, the IRS suggests you gather the following information and materials before you start.

Personal Information:

  • A copy of last year's tax return in order to access your adjusted gross income (AGI)
  • Valid Social Security numbers for yourself, your spouse, and any dependent, if applicable
  • A valid email address so the Free File software company you use can notify you that your return was accepted by IRS

Income and Receipts:

  • Social Security benefits
  • Unemployment Compensation
  • All receipts pertaining to your small business, if applicable
  • Income receipts from rental, real estate, royalties, partnerships, S corporation, trusts

Other income:

  • W-2s, showing your annual wages from all of your employers
  • Form 1099-INT, showing interest paid to you throughout the year
  • Form 1099-G, showing any refund, credit or offset of state and local taxes
  • Forms 1099-DIV and 1099-R, showing dividends and distributions from retirement and other plans paid to you during the year

Healthcare/Affordable Care Act data:

  • Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement.
  • Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit

You can read more about Free File, what you need to get started, related filing tools, and more in the drop-down sections of IRS.gov's main IRS Free File page.

 

Also, if you don't have a computer, don't worry. IRS Free File products support mobile access, allowing eligible taxpayers to compete and e-file their taxes on their smart phone or tablet.

Fillable forms opens Jan. 29: As for taxpayers who made more than $79,000 in 2023, Free File's companion program Free File Fillable Forms (FFFF) will be available. But not yet.

The FFFF option won't open until the full filing season officially starts full Jan. 29.

Once FFFF is operational, you select the IRS forms you need, fill them out at your computer and then, like the full Free File setup, electronically submit them to the IRS at no cost.

Remember, though, there is no programmed tax software component in the fillable forms option. You must not only complete the forms themselves, but also have some knowledge of the tax laws so that you can do so correctly.

If you're comfortable doing that and aren't eligible for the full Free File option, then Free Fillable Forms is a good alternative.

You also might find these items of interest:

 

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Comments

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Accounting Tutor

When considering the IRS Free File program, it's prudent to be aware of potential issues or hidden agendas that could affect users. Here are some concerns and questions that are worth considering:

Data Privacy and Security:
What measures do the software companies take to ensure the security and privacy of taxpayer data?
Is there any risk of personal information being used for purposes other than tax filing, such as marketing or data selling?

Ease of Use:
How user-friendly are these software options, especially for individuals who are not tech-savvy or familiar with tax laws?
Is there a risk of users making errors due to complex interfaces or lack of guidance?

State Tax Return Filing:
For software that offers state return preparation, are there any hidden costs or conditions?
How does the software handle state-specific tax laws and requirements?

After-Filing Support:
What kind of support or assistance is available if there are issues with the tax return after filing?
Is there a risk of inadequate support, leaving users to handle IRS queries or audits on their own?

Commercial Upselling:
Are there any attempts to upsell paid services or products during the Free File process?
How aggressive are these marketing tactics, and do they potentially lead users away from the free options?

Accessibility:
How accessible are these services to people with disabilities or those with limited internet access?
Are there sufficient resources or support for those who may need additional assistance?

Long-Term Implications:
Is there a possibility that using a particular software might lock users into a specific ecosystem, making it difficult or costly to switch services in the future?

Understanding these potential pitfalls can help users make more informed decisions and ensure a smooth and secure tax filing experience with the IRS Free File program.

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