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Free Tax E-File Online Basics


Free Tax E-File Online Basics

Roxanna Guinan
by Roxanna Guinan, Contributor

Free File is a free federal income tax preparation and electronic filing program for eligible taxpayers, developed through a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Free File Alliance LLC, a group of private sector tax software companies.

You may access free commercial online tax preparation and electronic filing services through the IRS website. Eligible taxpayers may prepare and e-file taxes online for free using commercial online software provided by the Free File Alliance companies ― not just by the IRS. Since Free File's debut in 2003, more than 30 million people have e-filed taxes online for free, saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

To access Free File, taxpayers must enter through the IRS website. If taxpayers choose to use the “Guide Me To A Company” tool to help find a Free File company, information will remain entirely anonymous and will not be retained by the IRS. It is important that you follow this step because if you go to a company's website and not through the IRS Free File pages, you may be charged a fee.

While fees may apply to state tax return preparation and e-filing, some companies offer other tax forms and tax preparation tools.  However, taxpayers are under no obligation to buy any other products or services offered by these third party companies accessed via the Free File link.

There is no need to worry when you e-file taxes online for free, because Free File uses secure technologies that have been approved by the IRS.  The Free File tax software companies must be in compliance with all federal rules governing e-filing and regulations covering taxpayer privacy.  The companies are not allowed to disclose or use tax return information for purposes other than for tax return preparation without the knowing, informed and voluntary consent of the taxpayer.   These companies are also subject to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Privacy and Safeguards Rules which is especially important in this age of cyber crime and gives you added comfort when you e-file taxes online for free.

To e-file taxes online for free, taxpayers enter data in a secure site and tax calculations are performed online. Completed tax returns will be transmitted electronically from the company to the IRS through the existing e-file system using secure technologies. Immediately afterwards, the taxpayer is notified via email from the Free File Alliance company that the return has been accepted or rejected by the IRS.