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Rules and Qualifications for IRS Free E-File


Rules and Qualifications for IRS Free E-File

Chris Bibey
by Chris Bibey

The IRS offers a free e-file program that makes it simple for taxpayers to file their tax returns online. The Free File program is made possible through a partnership with the Free File Alliance LLC. With this service, taxpayers can obtain free income tax preparation as well as free e-filing.

First, it’s important to know that there are several rules and qualifications regarding the IRS free e-file program. In other words, not all taxpayers are eligible to take full advantage of this system.

Generally speaking, if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is $57,000 or less for 2009, you will qualify to use this online filing program. If your income exceeds that level, you will have to search for another way to e-file your taxes online for free.

If you earned more than $57,000, you can still e-file your taxes online with the IRS program, but you will be subject to a fee for preparation and filing. For some taxpayers, this is still a great idea because it allows them to file their return with professional help on their side.

Is the Free File program really free? Many people decide against this program because they are worried that they’ll be charged a fee at some point during the filing process. If you are a qualifying taxpayer and you enter through the website, you should be able to file your taxes online free of charge.

Note that many of the providers featured in the Free File program will charge a fee to e-file your state tax return. You are under no obligation to file your state return online, but it is something that you may want to consider since your information already exists in that system.

Various software companies offer their services through the IRS Free File program. Each participating company sets specific eligibility requirements, so make sure that you know what they are. These companies may limit taxpayer eligibility based on location, adjusted gross income, filing status, or other criteria. The IRS offers a “Help Me Select a Company” online tool that makes it easy to find the program that fits you best.

As long as your adjusted gross income was below $57,000 for tax year 2009, you should qualify to use the IRS’ free e-file program. Those who are eligible should definitely take advantage of this opportunity. E-filing your taxes online is beneficial for many reasons.