How to file your taxes for free

Tax filing season is here again and, apparently, not “resting quietly at home” due to COVID-19. Disappointing as that is, beginning February 12, 2021, the IRS is accepting e-filed tax returns. So at least you can file without having to leave the house.

Word has it there’s another stimulus check on the way, but what you may not know is that due to regulations associated with this stimulus check, you may need to file a 2020 tax return if you haven’t filed a tax return in prior years.

Thankfully, many tax filers are eligible for the IRS’ Free File program, which lets you file taxes online for free—thanks to a public-private partnership between the IRS and online tax services that’s been available for a couple of years now. There are a couple of eligibility requirements, but for the most part, if you made $72,000 or less in 2020, you’re likely to qualify to file your taxes for free.

In the past, while you may have qualified for free filing, if you searched for “file my taxes for free” using your favorite search engine, the information for how to do so likely eluded you. In fact, one of my daughters, who technically qualified for free tax filing last year, ended up paying to file her return because she had 1099 income, even though that should not have disqualified her.

Free at last

Right before the 2019 tax-filing season ended, ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit news gathering and journalistic organization, revealed that some tax prep sites were intentionally hiding their true free-file options from search engine indexing. Additionally, companies named products in deceiving ways so it was difficult to tell the difference between a product you were going to pay for and a product that was actually free. All in all, about 14 million Americans were charged for tax prep that should have been free.

Thanks to ProPublica’s diligent reporting, Free File options should now appear when you search the internet for free tax-filing options—the results are no longer hidden. Unfortunately, it is still possible to find tax-filing products that appears free until you get to the end of the process of filling out your forms. To make things clearer and simpler, here’s the skinny, with all the appropriate links, to help you figure out if you’re eligible to file your taxes for free.

Who qualifies for free tax filing?

According to the IRS website, the Free File Program is “a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, a group of industry-leading private-sector tax-preparation companies that have agreed to provide free commercial online tax-preparation and electronic filing.”

An IRS Lookup Tool helps you find the free-filing option for your specific circumstances.

#file #taxes #free

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