Most of us pay to have our taxes completed, whether that means hiring an accountant to complete the forms for us, or using one of several online or application based options that TurboTax, TaxACT, TaxSlayer, H&R Block and I like it. What you may not know is that many taxpayers are eligible for a Free File program, which allows them to file their taxes online for free, thanks to a public-private partnership between the IRS and the online tax services that have been available for a couple of years. now.
Last season of filing taxes, while you may have qualified for the free filing, if you sought to "file my taxes for free" using your favorite search engine, information on how to do it probably eluded you. In fact, one of my daughters, who technically qualified for the free tax return last year, ended up paying to file her return because she had income of 1099, although that shouldn't have disqualified her.
Obscuring the facts
Just before the end of last year's tax filing season, ProPublica, an independent and nonprofit news gathering and news organization, revealed that some tax preparation sites intentionally concealed their true free filing options. search engine indexing. In addition, companies named the products deceptively, so it was difficult to distinguish between a product that was going to pay and a product that was Really free. Overall, some 14 million Americans were charged with a tax preparation that should have been free.
Free at last
Thanks to ProPublica's diligent reports, Free File options should now appear when you search the Internet for free tax filing options; The results are no longer hidden. Unfortunately, it is still possible to find tax filing products that seem free until you reach the end of the process of completing your forms. To make things clearer and simpler, here is the issue of how to find out if you are eligible to file your taxes for free.
Who qualifies for the free tax return?
According to the IRS website, the Free File Program is "a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, a group of leading private sector tax preparation companies that have agreed to provide free commercial online tax preparation and electronic submission. "
Under IRS rules, there is only one threshold you must meet to file your taxes for free. You must have a 2019 income of $ 69,000 or less.
But, while this is the IRS threshold, each of the online tax return companies has its own set of rules to determine eligibility for the free tax return. Therefore, you cannot simply go to the TurboTax or H&R Block website and submit your taxes for free. And, as noted above, you may not know that you have to pay to file your taxes until after You have done all the expensive work of entering your personal information. It is difficult, at that time, to want to do it all again in another program.
Fortunately, the IRS provides detailed information on its website about the Free File Program and a link to a page detailing all the available free file options. There is also a link to an ingenious tool that allows you to enter your specific income information, including where you live and if you need to submit a state statement, which will list the links to all available options that match your specific situation.
Did you earn more than $ 69,000? You can still submit for free
Believe it or not, this is true! But there is an important warning. You must know how to do your taxes yourself to use this service.
The IRS Free Fillable Forms provides line-by-line instructions for each form you need to submit, and makes the calculations within those forms, but also requires that you have your 2018 statement available, and does not offer specific tax guidance, which is the hallmark of applications of filing taxes you must pay.
In summary, although almost anyone can use these forms to file their taxes for free, you will not get any hands here or any indicator of errors or warnings about possible audit problems. So keep in mind that the responsibility lies with you to ensure that each number is correct and that you have filed everything you need.