If you are thinking, how can I file my taxes for free, you might also be thinking that the IRS should offer a way to file taxes for free online. After all, how hard can it be to write a simple, free income tax preparation software, when you are the ones that actually write the tax laws. You would be right, except for this is America where
big bribes campaign contributions mean that politicians care more about companies that make tax software than they do about taxpayers. Still, there is a way to file your taxes for free online.
IRS Free File
IRS Free File is a “public/private partnership” where companies that make fully priced commercial tax software also make a free tax filing version in exchange for being on the IRS Free File website. This is the best the citizens of America could get against intense lobbying by Intuit, the maker of TurboTax.
File Taxes for Free Limitations
There are limits on who can use Free File. The IRS currently lists $72,000 as the maximum income. Also, for people who have more complicated taxes, the commercial paid options might be a better way to go. As a freelance writer, I use TurboTax Home & Business because I claim the home office deduction which requires this version. If you are a freelance writer without a home office, you can go with a cheaper version, I think.
You can also always use free tax forms from the IRS and do your taxes by hand.
Check out the Capital One Rewards Catalog 2021.
How Does IRS Free File Work?
In order to use IRS Free File, you must start at the IRS Free File website. From there, you can click a link that will take you to an IRS Free File partner. You will have to create an account and give your personal information to the partner you choose. The partner is free to use that information to market their products to you. I suggest creating and using a “taxes only” email and giving it to the partner. It has to be a real address because they will confirm it, and they will send a copy of your taxes to that email address. It does not have to be your usual email.
When you arrive at the partner website expect to see big, bold, offers for the company’s not free products. Read all of the fine print carefully to ensure you are using the IRS Free File version.
Can You Use IRS Free File for 2021 Taxes?
It seems that TurboTax is leaving the IRS Free File program because it got caught being shifty about selling its paid products to people who tried to use the Free File program, and if it can’t trick people into buying Intuit products, then it isn’t worth it for them to do the Free File program. The company admits as much in a blog post.
Great work by the company’s copywriters to make it sound like a good thing, but if you are paying attention, it says people who want to Free File only want to free file, and we want them to do more (buy stuff) so, we’re out.
Without Intuit and H&R Block, there will be less partners for the Free File program, but it still makes sense for some of the smaller tax software companies to participate and get some additional exposure.
Maybe it’s finally time for the IRS to launch its own Free File offering, you know… just for those people who want to ‘focus solely on tax preparation and e-filing.’
By Brian Nelson – Brian is a former Certified Financial Planner and financial advisor. He writes for the Finance Gourmet and other financial publications. The material provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended for financial or tax advice. ArcticLlama, LLC, FinanceGourmet.com, and Brian Nelson, assume no liability for any loss or damage resulting from one’s reliance on the material provided. Please note that material may not be updated regularly and that some of the information may not be current. Consult with your own tax professional when making decisions regarding your tax situation.