Tax season is in full swing, and again this year, the Internal Revenue Service is offering a program that allows many U.S. taxpayers to electronically file their tax returns for free:
The Free File program provides free federal income tax preparation and electronic filing for eligible taxpayers through a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service and the Free File Alliance LLC, a group of private sector tax software companies. Many companies offer free or paid state tax preparation and efiling services. Some companies may not offer state tax preparation and e-file services for all states.
I've shared this service with GRS readers in the past, and will do so every year in the future (so long as the program exists). I think it's awesome.
- For the 2010 tax year, you can use Traditional Free File (where you use tax software with step-by-step help) if your adjusted gross income is $58,000 or less. By using software, you don't have to do the math, and the programs check your inputs for accuracy. (Note that not every partner company provides state tax preparation.) This year, the IRS has a “help me find a Free File company” wizard to match users to the appropriate program.
- There's also a version of Free File with no income limits. This option doesn't include any sort of fancy software or step-by-step help; instead, you fill out online versions of blank IRS forms 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ. (The forms do have basic calculation abilities.) There's no state option with these free fillable forms.
Free File is a great deal for many people. Check into it if you haven't done your taxes yet. For more info, read the Free File FAQ at the IRS website. (The IRS website is actually awesome. You can find tons of tax info there. I'm not ashamed to admit that I've spent many hours digging through their resources.)
If you've used Free File before, please share your impressions. I'm sure other GRS readers would welcome hints and tips. For myself, I'll be off to see my accountant as soon as I return from Africa. I don't qualify for Free File — and besides, my accountant always saves me money. (He's better at doing taxes than I am, believe it or not.)
Author: J.D. Roth
In 2006, J.D. founded Get Rich Slowly to document his quest to get out of debt. Over time, he learned how to save and how to invest. Today, he's managed to reach early retirement! He wants to help you master your money — and your life. No scams. No gimmicks. Just smart money advice to help you reach your goals.