Remember preparing and filing your income tax return on paper? Those days are as good as gone with the variety of available electronic filing options. You can use the IRS free file or fillable forms, commercial software, or hire an authorized e-file provider to do the work for you. Each option comes with limitations and benefits but if you are comfortable preparing your own income tax return, a number of free online e-file options are available to suit your needs.
Eligibility for Online E-File
Most taxpayers are eligible to e-file their income tax returns, with some exceptions. Taxpayers are ineligible to e-file if they are under 16 years of age and this is their first federal return, have no taxable income, are a U.S. nonresident, are married filing separately in a community property state, or have more than 4 states on their W-2. Also, if documents or written statements need to be attached to your income tax return, you will not be able to do so with e-file. Please note that you can still prepare your income tax return with the IRS fillable forms, you just cannot e-file.
freefile: IRS Online System
freefile is the official IRS tax return free online e-file system, available at www.irs.gov. You can use the IRS online system if your adjusted gross income is $62,000 or less. If your income is higher, you can still use the free IRS fillable forms to prepare your income tax return. However, you will need to print the forms and mail them rather than e-file them.
If you do not want to use the IRS online system, the IRS website provides a useful tool to identify other free online software to prepare and e-file your income tax returns (https://apps.irs.gov/app/freeFile/jsp/wizard.jsp?ck), including TaxACT, TurboTax, FreeTax USA, FileYourTaxes.com, H&R Block, TaxSlayer, Jackson Hewitt, 1040NOW.net, Free1040TaxReturn.com, eSmart, 1040.com, OLT.com, and ezTaxReturn.com.
TurboTax All Free
TurboTax provides a free federal income tax return if you have an adjusted gross income of $31,000 or less ($62,000 or less for active military), or are eligible for earned income tax credit. TurboTax also offers free extensions as well as free state income returns based on the same qualification requirements as for the federal income tax returns.
H&R Block Free File
H&R Block offers free federal and state income tax returns for tax payers with an adjusted gross income of $62,000 or less for active military, and non-military tax payers age 17-50.
TaxSlayer Free E-File
TaxSlayer offers a free federal income tax return with IRS freefile for tax payers age 52 or younger with an adjusted gross income of $62,000 or less. State income tax returns are available for a limited number of states.
efile.com is an online tax software and e-file system unrelated to the IRS, offering free federal income return e-file for form 1040EZ. Your eligibility to file form 1040EZ is determined during the online tax interview. Typically, to qualify, your filing status must be single or married filing jointly without dependents. Also, you cannot be 65 or older, and your taxable income must be less than $100,000. If you have income other than from wages, salaries, tips, or unemployment compensation, or are claiming casualty or disaster losses, you are not eligible to file with form 1040EZ.
Whether going through the official IRS website or an independent e-file provider, remember to check each offer to make sure you qualify. Also, some services offer free federal income tax returns but not state, so find out before you start.