Q: What is IRS Free File?

The Free File program lets qualifying taxpayers prepare and file their federal income tax returns online for free, through an IRS partner site. The IRS partners with members of the Free File Alliance to provide free online tax preparation and electronic filing to over 70% of U.S. taxpayers who are eligible. For more information, visit the IRS’ information page about the Free File Alliance.

Am I eligible for Free File?

Eligibility is based on your adjusted gross income (AGI). This is the money you earned through wages, tips, and other sources of income, minus your adjustments to income (aka “above-the-line” deductions).

If your AGI is $72,000 or less, you’ll qualify for free federal tax filing on a partner site using industry-leading software. If your AGI is above $72,000, you can fill out paper forms for free, but there is limited guidance available, and you should know how to prepare your own tax return if you choose this option. If you’d like help preparing your taxes for this year, check out the Gusto Partner Directory to find an accountant or bookkeeper that fits your needs!

Are there other benefits available to me?

Depending on your income level, you might be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (more information on the EITC is available here). You may also qualify for the Recovery Rebate Credit if you didn’t get the full amount of the Economic Impact Payment (i.e., stimulus) earlier this year. For more information, visit the IRS’ Recovery Rebate Credit information page.

Are there other ways to file my taxes for free, even if I don’t qualify for Free File?

Yes. You can visit the IRS’ Get Free Tax Prep Help page, which will point you to Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs near you. Both programs offer free tax help for taxpayers who qualify.

What forms are available for Free File software?

The most common tax forms are available through the Free File Alliance, and you can get more information about them on each company’s website. Supported forms include Form 1040 (the U.S. Individual Income Tax Return), its supporting schedules, forms that support Education Credits, the Earned Income Credit, the Premium Tax Credit, and many others.

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How do I get started with Free File?

Early in the new year, you can view your online Free File options using this tool, which has links to offers you may qualify for, as well as answers common questions. You will need to have your income statements available, as well as any adjustments to income, your current filing status, and information about your dependents. You may also need a copy of last year’s return. For more information, visit the IRS’ information page about the Free File Program.

What are my rights and protections under IRS Free File?

Your rights and protections are available on the IRS’ Free File Information page. They are the right to:

  • Get a free federal tax return. As long as you qualify for the partner’s offer, you must not be charged for preparation or e-filing of the return.
  • Be protected from unnecessary fees. You must not be offered or solicited any form of marketing or selling activity on the partner company’s IRS Free File website. If there is an additional fee for state tax preparation, that fee must be disclosed on the Free File landing page.
  • Guarantee of calculations. Each Free File company provides a guarantee of the accuracy of calculations, and you have the right to pursue any accuracy concerns you may have.
  • Be guided in your choices. If you don’t qualify for a particular partner company’s Free File offer, you may return to the IRS.gov Free File website to seek another offer and select another company.
  • Get help if you need it. If you need help while you are at the Free File site, you may refer to the company’s free customer service options.
  • Be reminded of IRS Free File. If you used Free File last year, you should receive an email this year with information about how to file using Free File again.
  • Be protected from bank product fees. As part of IRS free file, you must not be offered any bank products that may carry product fees (such as Refund Anticipation Loans/Checks).
  • Get help finding a free option for you. The IRS offers a free lookup tool to help you find an offer that meets your needs.
  • Get important information on possible charges for state returns. Many partner companies offer free state tax return preparation, but some charge a state fee. This fee must be disclosed on the company’s IRS Free File landing page.

For more information, visit the IRS’ Free File resources.

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