The IRS Is Making It Easier to File Your Taxes
Filing taxes doesn't have to be such a pain.
The thought of filing taxes fills many Americans with dread. Taxes are even more stressful and complicated for gig and self-employed workers. Fortunately, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is there to help Americans as they prepare to file their taxes. Workers with an adjusted gross income of $73,000 or less can use a free tax software to prepare and electronically file their tax returns.
In addition, taxpayers who earned more than $73,000 can still use Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of the federal tax forms, to file online. Doing so can help ensure a speedier refund if one is due.
"The IRS Free File Program is a public-private partnership between the IRS and many tax preparation and filing software industry leaders who provide their brand-name products for free. It provides two ways for taxpayers to prepare and file their federal income tax online for free," the IRS notes on its website.
The first is the "Guided Tax Preparation" tool, which offers free online tax preparation and filing at an IRS partner site. The IRS partners deliver this service at no cost to qualifying taxpayers. However, only taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is $73,000 or less qualify for a free federal tax return using IRS Free File guided tax preparation. Filers only have to answer a few simple questions and don’t have to worry about any of the math.
The tax filing is then done on an IRS partner site. In addition, some state tax preparation and filings are also completed for free.
Higher Bracket Filers
The second option is the free electronic version of the paper 1040 form. While this is available for all tax filers, it is the only free option available for taxpayers whose income is above $73,000. However, for many individuals, this may not be the best option.
"If you choose this option, you should know how to prepare your own tax return," the IRS warns. Without any tax preparation guidance offered, users must be able to prepare a paper tax return using IRS forms, instructions, and publications. Taxpayers that go this route will still need to file a state tax return on their own.
Other Notable Programs
The IRS also offers the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, a federal grant program that helps community organizations provide free tax preparation to low- and moderate-income individuals, the disabled, the elderly, and limited-English speakers.
The VITA program is open to those making $57,000 or less per year. However, VITA sites have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and volunteers generally can only handle less complicated filers. For individuals with Schedule C or Schedule D, such as freelancers and investors, VITA may not be the best option.
Another notable federal grant program is Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE). TCE is a free tax preparation program that was originally established to help those who are sixty and older. However, there is actually no minimum age requirement, and trained volunteers can also provide tax preparation to lower-income individuals.
Pentagon employees may want to consider MilTax. MilTax is a Department of Defense program that provides free tax software from H&R Block and other resources to help military personnel and their families. In addition to the free tax software, MilTax consultants can provide free tax help by phone or through live chats.
Finally, there are more than twenty states with free file programs similar to the federal program. A full list of the twenty states is available on the IRS website.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.