By Nancy Mathis, Free File Outreach Coordinator
The Internal Revenue Service and 14 commercial software providers are making an offer that’s hard to beat: do your taxes online for free.
This public/private partnership is called Free File, which provides free brand-name software or fillable forms. If your income is $58,000 or less — and that’s 70 percent of taxpayers — you can use a Free File software product. If your income is more, use Free File Fillable Forms. Explore your options only at IRS.gov/freefile.
Each participating Free File company sets its own eligibility criteria, generally based on income, age, state residency or military status. You can either browse the offers yourself or use a “Help Me” tool that narrows the list for you.
The IRS previously announced it would delay the filing season due to critical system testing following the federal government closure. However, Free File software became available January 17. Companies will safely and securely hold completed returns until the IRS begins accepting tax returns on January 31. Free File Fillable Forms also is available starting January 31.
The tax deadline remains April 15. If you can’t make the April 15 deadline, you also can use Free File to file for a six-month extension with Form 4868. You can then use Free File through October 15.
Here’s some additional information:
The IRS also needs your help in making more people aware of Free File. If you are a governmental agency, business or charity, there also are products for you to increase awareness among your clients, customers or own employees at freefile.irs.gov/partners.
You can get a good overview in this Spread the Word appeal. There is sample content for emails and newsletters, a social media content calendar, a tax-day countdown widget for your website and Infographics on How to Free File and the Benefits of Free File.