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Phone Scams, IRAs and Tax Extensions: The IRS published multiple reminder letters this week. In IR-2017-64 the Service warned tax preparers to watch for phishing emails claiming to be from clients. The latest tactic is for a scammer to send an email to tax preparers with a "last...

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Tuesday January 22, 2019

Washington News

Washington Hotline

IRS Free File Now Available

In IR-2019-2, the IRS announced the availability of the Free File Program. Since the inception of the program, more than 53 million taxpayers have used tax preparation software provided by the Free File Alliance.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig noted, "Free File is an important tool that allows taxpayers free access to electronic filing of their tax returns. The program has been a great partnership with the private sector, and we have taken steps to improve Free File this year. With these changes to the Free File program as well as the new tax law, this is a great year for people to consider using this option for preparing their taxes."

Free File is accessed on www.IRS.gov. The "Help Me" tool may be useful in helping you select the best free commercial tax program for your situation. Just use the "Help Me" tool and enter your age, income and state of residency to view software options. After you select a software program, you will use that company's website to complete your taxes.

An estimated 100 million taxpayers are eligible for Free File. Individuals or families with incomes under $66,000 may use one or more of the Free File programs. Active duty military personnel with incomes under $66,000 have at least 10 available programs. Many of the most popular Free File programs are available to lower income level individuals and families.

Several 2019 Free File changes are designed to favor the taxpayer.
  1. No "Value Added" Buttons – When you land on a Free File website page, the software may not advertise higher-cost options.

  2. Back to IRS Free File – If you go to a commercial Free File website and do not qualify for their plan, your browser back arrow will return you to the IRS Free File page.

  3. Free File Log-in – If you have a Free File account with a commercial preparer and next year log in to that commercial website, you must have a Free File option available on that page.

  4. Commercial Emails – If you use a Free File commercial program and the company sends you an email the next year, it must offer you a Free File program again.

Editor's Note: Free File is a great option for approximately 70% of all taxpayers. The new consumer protections are a welcome step forward. The IRS has improved the Free File program for many taxpayers.


Published January 18, 2019
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