WASHINGTON — More than 27 million taxpayers have filed their tax returns from home computers so far this year, an increase of almost 6 percent compared to last year.
These 27 million taxpayers used a variety of software products to prepare and e-file their own returns. However, the IRS reminds people that they can prepare and e-file their federal tax returns online for free through Free File at IRS.gov. Free File has an option for almost everyone, either through brand-name software or online fillable forms.
The Free File program is a public-private partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, LLC. The Alliance is a consortium of 14 leading tax software providers who make their products available exclusively at IRS.gov. All Free File members meet security requirements and use the latest in encryption technology to protect taxpayer information.
Seventy percent of taxpayers are eligible for easy-to-use Free File software because their income was $58,000 or less in 2013. People who made more than $58,000 and who are comfortable preparing their own returns can use Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms.
Each Free File software provider sets its own criteria for eligibility, generally based on income, age, state residency or military service. However, taxpayers can quickly find a match by using the “help me find Free File software” tool. Or, taxpayers can review all providers and their offers. Some software providers also offer state tax software and display on their landing pages whether it is free or if there is a fee.
Free File Fillable Forms is more basic, similar to completing a paper Form 1040. The program performs some math calculations and provides links to some IRS publications. It also can be filed electronically for free. However, it does not support any state tax returns.