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Who can e-file taxes online for free?


Who can e-file taxes online for free?

Elizabeth Rosen
by Elizabeth Rosen, Contributor

Individuals, self-employed taxpayers, businesses, charities, and non-profits (and even paid professional tax preparers) can e-file taxes online for free if their adjusted gross income (AGI) is $57,000 or less.  There are two free e-filing methods approved by the IRS, which are listed here.

Free File Fillable Tax Forms

The “Free File Fillable Forms” program is managed by an authorized IRS e-file provider. It allows taxpayers to fill-in their tax forms online and file electronically without having to buy/use expensive tax preparation software. Free File Fillable Forms are essentially online versions of the paper tax forms. The features of Free File Fillable Forms are as follows:

  • No income limitations (everyone is eligible to use these forms)
  • Supplies you with blank IRS tax forms (you can choose, self-prepare, and e-file your tax return)
  • Provides basic mathematical calculations
  • Gives you instant access to the most commonly filed Federal tax forms and schedules
  • Does not provide state tax forms or state e-filing (visit your state’s department of taxation website)

IRS Free File

The IRS offers an online tax filing service called “Free File,” which helps guide eligible taxpayers through the e-filing process with step-by-step instructions and customer support. The IRS says that “Free File is the fast, easy, and free way to prepare and e-file your federal taxes online.”

The features of IRS Free File are as follows:

  • Poses easy-to-understand questions and displays your answers on the proper tax forms
  • Computes the math calculations for you
  • Verifies your information for accuracy
  • Provides you with instant access to the most commonly filed Federal tax forms and schedules
  • Some software companies offer state tax preparation (however, extra fees may apply)

Additionally, eligible taxpayers who filed a tax extension this year, can still use Free File to prepare and submit their Federal tax return through October 15, 2013.

The Free File service is provided by IRS-approved tax software companies through a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance. In fact, the IRS makes it convenient for taxpayers (who are anxious to save time and money) by having a Free File link on the IRS homepage. The IRS website can also give you a list of approved e-file providers for your tax preparation needs.

If you are not able to find a Free File company that you think you will qualify for, you may want to use the IRS’s "Guide Me To A Company" interactive tool.  If you have trouble choosing an IRS-approved company after scanning the listing of available firms that will e-file taxes online for free, you can use the “Guide Me To A Company" tool to narrow down your search results and find a provider that suits your needs. Note that individual company offers may be limited to specific states and include other criteria.

Make sure to carefully review the Free File offer criteria before you select a company to electronically file your taxes.  Each participating software company has its own set of eligibility requirements, so you don’t want to assume that you qualify to e-file for free. Millions of taxpayers have used Free File to e-file taxes online for free and have rated the program as "easy to use," saying they would recommend it to a friend or family member.  So if you are deciding whether to e-file taxes online for free, consider asking around for advice — you may not realize that someone you know already does!

More and more businesses, employers, and payment processors are adopting the e-filing method for their taxes because it streamlines the data recording and transmission process.  When taxpayers e-file taxes online for free, the IRS is able to electronically process and match people’s information and records much faster, which saves everyone time and the risk of making errors.