WASHINGTON, Jan. 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Taxpayers can get a head start on preparing their tax returns as free federal tax preparation and e-filing software is now available at www.IRS.gov/FreeFile to all Americans with a 2018 adjusted gross income (AGI) of $66,000 or less. Powered by The Free File Alliance, a coalition of 12 industry-leading tax software companies partnered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Free File program gives eligible taxpayers free access to the industry’s most innovative and secure tax software in order to easily prepare and e-file their federal tax returns.
With the tax filing season not officially opening until January 28th, eligible taxpayers can get a head start on their taxes by e-filing utilizing the Free File software. More than 70 percent of all taxpayers — 100 million people — are eligible to use Free File, which is available now at www.IRS.gov/FreeFile. Taxpayers can visit www.IRS.gov/FreeFile and utilize Free File Software Lookup Tool to find free federal and free state return options that match your situation.
“If your income is $66,000 or less, Free File is there to take the guesswork out of doing your federal tax returns,” said Tim Hugo, executive director of the Free File Alliance. “It is particularly important this year due to the new tax law provisions. Our software offers step-by-step help to get your federal taxes done quickly, safely, securely and at absolutely no cost. In addition, active duty military personnel with incomes of $66,000 or less may use any Free File software product offered by the 12 tax preparation companies without regard to criteria.”
In addition, taxpayers using the Free File Program will benefit from several new enhancements to the Program said Hugo, “Over the sixteen-year life of this joint public-private partnership, we have worked with the IRS to continually improve Free File. The Service and FFA have come up with a series of improvements to better serve taxpayers thus enhancing customer experience.”
The new agreement, which extends the Free File program through October 31, 2021, offers new consumer protections which include:
- Removing the “value-add” button from Free File partner landing pages. Free File members will remove any button or link on their Free File landing pages that would take taxpayers to non-Free File programs. The change is designed to improve the transparency of the program, and to make the navigation easier for taxpayers to use Free File.
- Taxpayers can return to the IRS Free File page if they don’t qualify for an offer. To use Free File, taxpayers must use IRS.gov to connect to a company offering Free File. If the taxpayer doesn’t qualify for a free filing option on a particular member site, the new agreement requires the companies to offer taxpayers the option to easily return to IRS.gov to see if they qualify for another Free File offer.
- Returning taxpayers’ first option must be Free File. If a taxpayer returns to a Free File member’s website the following year after using the free program, the first option after logging into their account will be the Free File option — before receiving any other offers from the company.
- Follow-up emails to taxpayers who used Free File the previous year will welcome them back to the Free File service. This change will strengthen rules for members sending follow up emails to prior year customers, reminding them of the availability of Free File. To help increase program participation, Free File members will email prior year participants welcoming them back to the Free File program. The email must not contain information about any non-Free File service or product or any marketing or soliciting, except for free or paid state tax preparation offers.
- Emphasis on the in-place review process. Both the IRS and a third party already review each Free File option before filing season to ensure the program standards are being followed by Free File members. The new agreement now reinforces this longstanding requirement, which has always also included an unannounced review during filing season.
Taxpayers can also use their smart phones or tablets to electronically prepare and file their federal and state tax returns through IRS Free File. Taxpayers may access the products using mobile devices in two ways: (1) Use the IRS2Go app, which has a link to the Free File Software Lookup Tool or (2) use the device’s browser to go to www.IRS.gov/freefile. The IRS2Go app is available for Android and iOS devices.
Hugo continued, “The Free File program has provided over 53 million returns valued at over $1.6 billion in free tax software over the last 16 years, and we hope to see even more taxpayers take advantage of the service in 2019. IRS.gov/Free File is the one place where taxpayers can choose from a variety of the industry’s most innovative and secure tax software options.”
Starting January 28, basic federal e-filing services, called Free File Fillable Forms, will also be available regardless of income level. Free File Fillable Forms allows taxpayers who are familiar with tax law and need no preparation assistance to complete and file their federal income tax electronically.
By making industry-leading tax software available at no cost, Free File has introduced millions of Americans, many of whom could not otherwise afford tax software, to the efficiency and ease of e-filing. The program has continually advanced the IRS’ e-filing initiative, while meeting a critical need for affordable, quality tax software options. Responding to a recent IRS survey, 96 percent of users said they found Free File easy to use, while 98 percent said they would recommend the program to others.
Remember, the only way to access Free File and its free federal tax return preparation options is by visiting IRS.gov/FreeFile.
About the Free File Alliance
The Free File Alliance, a coalition of 12 industry-leading tax software companies, has partnered with the IRS since 2003 to help low and middle-income Americans prepare, complete and e-file their federal tax returns online. The Free File Alliance is committed to giving 70 percent of taxpayers free access to the industry’s top online tax preparation software. More than 53 million returns have been filed through Free File since its inception. For more information, visit www.freefilealliance.org.