Ready to file your 2019 tax return? The filing season officially opens on January 27, 2020, but taxpayers can get an early start today. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced that Free File is officially open.
Free File is available to taxpayers whose adjusted gross income (AGI) was $69,000 or less in 2019. You can find your AGI by looking at line 8b on form 1040. The amount includes income less any adjustments (sometimes called above-the-line deductions) and is calculated before claiming the standard or itemized deductions. That means that it applies to most taxpayers.
If you use Free File, you can do your taxes now. The Free File provider will then submit the return once the IRS officially opens tax season and starts processing tax returns. For 2020, the Free File partners are: 1040Now, Inc., ezTaxReturn.com (English and Spanish), FileYourTaxes.com, Free tax Returns.com, H&R Block, Intuit, Online Taxes, Inc., Tax ACT, TaxHawk, Inc., and TaxSlayer (English and Spanish).
“Free File online products offer free federal tax return preparation, free electronic filing and free direct deposit of refunds to help get your money faster,” said Chuck Rettig, IRS Commissioner. “The IRS has worked to improve the program for this year, and we encourage taxpayers to visit IRS.gov, and consider using the Free File option to get a head start on tax season.”
Since its 2003 debut, Free File has served nearly 57 million taxpayers, saving an estimated $1.7 billion calculated using a conservative $30 tax preparation fee. Free File is a public-private partnership between the IRS and Free File Inc. (FFI). Free File has been the center of some controversy in recent years, with allegations that some providers were leading taxpayers to paid services when they should have been directed to the free services. That should be changing: Now, as part of a recent agreement, tax preparation software companies are prohibited from hiding free filing services from Google or other search results pages. Companies must also provide taxpayers with a link to the IRS Free File website “at the earliest feasible point in the preparation process if they do not qualify for the [company’s] Free File offer.”
So how does it work? Click over to IRS.gov/freefile to see all Free File options. If you know which software partner you want to use, you can click straight through. Otherwise, you can use a “look up” tool to help you find the right product.
Not every Free File partner has the same eligibility criteria: it may vary based on income, age, and state residency. However, most companies provide a special offer for active-duty military personnel who earned $69,000 or less regardless of the company’s other eligibility standards.
Additionally, some but not all partners offer free prep and filing for state returns. Check the fine print before you start your return. Any state preparation or non-qualifying fees are required to be disclosed on the company’s Free File landing page.
If you used Free File last year, you should receive an email from the same company product that you used, welcoming you back to Free File. The email should include a link to the company’s Free File online program and explain how to file with the program. You don’t have to use the same company: it’s intended to help you get started if you want to use the same program.
Free File will be available through October 15, 2020. Taxpayers who cannot meet the April 15 deadline can use Free File to file extensions regardless of their income.