As if paying your taxes wasn’t painful enough, paying to file your taxes adds insult to injury. How much you pay for tax preparation depends on several factors, like how complex your taxes are and what type of service you use.
But you might be in luck: Most people qualify to do their taxes for free through the IRS’ Free File program—subject to some income limits. Here’s how IRS Free File Program works, and the other filing options that will cost you little to nothing, too.
How to use IRS Free File
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IRS Free File is exactly what it sounds like—a filing service provided by the IRS. With it, you can submit your tax return using guided tax prep available via a partner site. The program offers the most commonly filed forms and schedules for taxpayers. Here’s the catch: To qualify, your adjusted gross income must be $73,000 or less. So long as your tax situation is simple and you meet the income limit, here are the steps to use IRS Free File.
- Begin filing directly at IRS.gov. Going through a partner site might lead to additional fees.
- Choose an IRS Free File option, guided tax preparation, or Free File Fillable Forms (more on that below).
- From here, you will be directed to the IRS partner’s website to log into or create your account.
- Prepare and e-file your federal tax return.
- Receive an email when the IRS has accepted your return.
Other ways to file your taxes for free
IRS.gov has a Free File online look-up tool to find a free filing option that you qualify for. You can input your income, state of residence, age, military status, and earned income tax credit eligibility and it will match you with offers that meet your tax-filing needs.
If you don’t meet the income requirements for IRS Free File in the section above, here are other ways you can file your taxes for free.
Free File Fillable Forms
If you make more than $73,000, you can use Free File Fillable Forms on IRS.gov to prepare your own taxes. However, if you make over $73,000, it might be worth spending a little money to use a commercial tax software.
Commercial tax software
You can file a simple tax return for free with tax preparation companies like TurboTax or H&R Block. For the most part, you can avoid add-on fees. But if you’re looking to maximize deductions, that price will creep up to at least $40 on H&R Block and at least $100 on TurboTax.
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
The IRS also provides free tax preparation for taxpayers who earn $60,000 a year or less, as well as for the disabled and those for whom English is a second language. These volunteers typically work at in-person locations around the country. You can find the closest one near you here.