This message is straight from the horse’s (IRS) mouth:
43 million Americans have saved by using IRS Free File. You can use name-brand software or fillable forms to prepare and e-file your federal tax return – all for free. Combined with direct deposit, electronic filling is the quickest way to get your refund.
Here are some tips about IRS Free File:
1. Go to IRS.gov/FreeFile. The only way to use IRS Free File is through the IRS website. Once you choose a Free File company, you’ll go to their website to prepare and e-file your federal tax return.
2. Find tax breaks. The question and answer format of tax software will help you find tax breaks. This could include tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. The software selects the appropriate tax forms and does the calculations for you. Free File can help with the new health care law tax provisions as well.
3. Free for all. If you made $60,000 or less you can use brand-name software. If you earned more, you can use Free File Fillable Forms. This option uses electronic versions of IRS paper forms. It is best for people who are used to doing their own taxes.
4. Easy online extensions. If you can’t finish your tax return by the April 15 deadline, it’s easy to use Free File to ask for a six-month extension. An extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. If you owe federal taxes, you need to estimate the amount and pay it with your request to avoid penalties and interest.
The IRS partners with 14 leading tax software companies, the Free File Alliance, to make this service available. Some companies offer free federal and free state returns. Choose your option on IRS.gov/freefile.
Jéneen R. Perkins is a freelance accountant and consultant serving entrepreneurs, families and small businesses. She prides herself in being fluent in English instead of “Accountant-ese”.