Introduced in 2003, Free File is a program created by the Internal Revenue Service in partnership a number of retail tax software companies to provide free online income tax preparation software. TurboTax, H&R Block At Home and other online tax software providers offer a free income tax software through the Free File program for tax year 2013.
If you don't qualify for or want to use Free File, there are many other free tax software options.
The Free File program has two options: choose online tax software from a Free File Alliance partner, or use Free File Fillable Forms. Both include federal e-File at no cost. Although the IRS will not be accepting returns until January 31, 2014, you can complete your tax return now using the Free File program and your return will be held securely and then filed electronically on January 31.
Free File Tax Software
The free tax software is provided by many familiar companies, like Intuit TurboTax and H&R Block, and some providers offer state income tax software as well (but it may not be free). The income limit for qualifying for Free File is set by each provider, so the IRS provides a quick survey to determine what tax software you can use at no cost. Tax software is available for income limits up to $58,000 from Free File, and at this time, there are 14 different free tax software providers to choose from.
Free File Fillable Forms is available to anyone, regardless of income level. Fillable Forms presents IRS tax forms on your computer display and the forms are completed online. This option doesn't walk you through preparing taxes like tax software does, but it does basic math calculations and allows you to e-file your return at no cost. Free File Fillable Forms does not support state forms.
Free Fillable Forms will be available for tax year 2013 on January 31, 2014.
More on Eligibility Requirements
The eligibility requirements for using the Free File program vary from year-to-year, and you may not qualify every year. To use Free File to prepare your 2013 tax year income tax return, you must meet this criteria:
- As noted above, the IRS requires that you have an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $58,000 or less to use Traditional Free File, with no income requirement to use fill-in form e-file.
- Tax software providers in the Free File program can set some of their own requirements for allowing you to use their free software. For example, some providers may require that your AGI be $32,000, over-ruling the IRS requirement of $58,000. If the tax software provider mentions no AGI, assume the IRS rules apply.
- Some providers have an age range you must fall into, or are only available to certain states or to military personnel (there are other free tax software options for military members).
- Once you choose a tax software title through the IRS Free File website, be sure you only access the tax software website through the IRS site to avoid being charged for your tax return. Once you click on the tax software website, you'll see a notice that you are leaving the IRS site, and you can proceed from there.
- Not all tax software providers offer free state returns with e-File, so be aware of fees if you wish to use the software to prepare state income taxes. You may be able to use free tax software offered directly through your state)
- Some providers offer an extension at no cost if you don't complete your tax return on time.
- If you see ads in the software used through Free File, you are under no obligation to buy anything. The IRS stipulates that free tax software providers in the Free File program not include ads that nag you to upgrade to a paid version, so this shouldn't be an issue.