Filling out tax forms can be a royal pain. They take time and often you feel like you’re becoming an amateur accountant just trying to read which number goes where. There is some good news, however. In 2003, the IRS started “Free File,” which is, according to the Free File Alliance, “a service dedicated to helping 70 percent of American taxpayers prepare and e-file their federal tax returns.”
Tax software is not a new thing, but Free File, as the name suggests, is free. The National Society of Accountants reported in 2017 the average cost for using a tax professional was $176. With itemized deductions, the cost lifts to $273.
What is Free File? According to the Free File Alliance, “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, a group of private sector tax software companies.”
Also, not all the software programs used by Free File are available in every state, so take a few minutes and make sure you choose one that covers your location.
Now, there is fine print. There are requirements for being eligible for Free File. Should you have a 2018 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $66,000 or less, you will qualify for Free File. In order to use Free File, go to www.IRS.gov/freefile. Please note that if you decide to go directly through a company website instead of the IRS, you may be charged a fee.
Outside of this service being completely free, there are other benefits. According to the Free File Alliance website, you will receive a faster refund when Free File is used with direct deposit. They also offer 24/7 services in case you have questions or you’re in need of help. The software programs are also being constantly updated, so you’ll always be getting the best possible experience.
When it comes time to file those taxes, check your eligibility for Free File. Afterall, it’s free.