The IRS’s Free File program allows those with adjusted gross incomes under $62k to use the Free File software for their federal taxes for no charge in a partnership with the Free File Alliance. Many states also partner with the FFA to offer free state tax returns to those that qualify, and some states offer free e-filing for all taxpayers.
When does the IRS process tax returns?
Tax return processing will begin January 19, 2016. For 2016, there are 13 brand-name tax software providers making their federal tax return products available for free. Taxpayers whose adjusted gross income was $62,000 or less during 2015 are eligible for at least one, if not more, of the 13 tax software products. The income limitation is $2,000 higher than last year. People can use Free File software immediately but e-filed returns will not be transmitted to the IRS until Tuesday, Jan. 19, when the filing season officially begins
(Note: Every taxpayer regardless of income can file for free if you want to fill out the tax forms by hand. The free service being provided here is the software back end that does the calculations for you. Tax returns prepared electronically are generally more accurate than those filled out by hand, reducing processing time and the potential for penalties that result from errors in your filing.)
E-File Forms Speed Tax Returns
For taxpayers who earned more than $62,000, there’s Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms. Free File Fillable Forms will be available on Jan. 19 2016. Free File is available only at IRS.gov/FreeFile. Since 2003, more than 46 million people have used Free File, saving nearly $1.4 billion based on a conservative $30-fee estimate.
What can you do in January to prepare for tax season?
- Finish up any IRA contributions for 2015 (you have until April 15, 2016 to make 2015 IRA contributions).
- Look up the schedules your various financial institutions are planning on issuing your documentation (1099s, etc) so you can watch for them. Ask your employer when you will receive your W-2.
- If you are considering professional tax preparation and haven’t done so before (or are switching preparers), now is the time to be asking around to find a tax preparer. If you have an established relationship, it’s always nice to reach out to say you will/will not be going with the same person again.
- I’m sure you’ll have ideas as well, leave them in the comments.
Remember, the fastest way to get your refund is through e-file and direct deposit. Direct deposit is fast, safe and easy. Just have your routing number and account number handy. Nine out of 10 taxpayers will receive their refunds within 21 days.
Free State Tax Filing Links
For 2016, more Free File software providers are offering both free federal and free state tax return preparation for states with income tax requirements. Some providers also are offering state tax return preparation for a fee. State tax return offers are at the discretion of the providers.
Links to state tax portals are below with Free File of State Tax
Alabama – Free e-filing: http://revenue.alabama.gov/eservices/mat-signup-help.cfm
Alaska – No state income tax.
Arizona – Partners with several major tax software providers: http://www.azdor.gov/EServices/Individuals.aspx
Arkansas – Partners with several major tax software providers:http://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/offices/incomeTax/eFile/Pages/freeFileProgram.aspx
California – Free filing through CalFile: https://www.ftb.ca.gov/online/calfile/index.asp?WT.mc_id=EfileOptions_Feature_CalFile_Start
Colorado – Free filing through Revenue Online: https://www.colorado.gov/revenueonline/_/
Connecticut – Free e-filing through the Taxpayer Services Center:https://drsindtax.ct.gov/AUT/welcomeindividual.aspx
Delaware – Online filing: http://www.revenue.delaware.gov/pit_onlinefiling.shtml
District of Columbia – Free e-filing through the Taxpayer Services Center:https://www.taxpayerservicecenter.com/individual/Ind_Logon.jsp?type=100
Florida – No state income tax.
Georgia – Partners with several major tax software providers: http://dor.georgia.gov/free-file-alliance
Iowa – Free e-filing for qualifying taxpayers: https://tax.iowa.gov/individual-income-tax-electronic-filing-options
Louisiana – Free e-filing: http://revenue.louisiana.gov/EServices/LouisianaFileOnline
Maine – Free iFile: http://www.maine.gov/revenue/netfile/IFileDesc.htm
Maryland – Free iFile: https://interactive.marylandtaxes.com/Individuals/iFile_ChooseForm/default.asp
Massachusetts – WebFile: https://wfb.dor.state.ma.us/webfile/wsi/
Michigan – Free e-filing for qualifying taxpayers: http://www.michigan.gov/taxes/0,4676,7-238-44070_46640-288774–,00.html
Minnesota – Free e-filing for qualifying taxpayers:http://www.revenue.state.mn.us/individuals/individ_income/Pages/Online_Filing_Software.aspx
Mississippi – Partners with several major tax software providers:http://www.dor.ms.gov/taxareas/individ/efiling/developers.html
Missouri – Partners with several major tax software providers: http://dor.mo.gov/personal/electronic.php
Nebraska – Free NebFile: http://www.revenue.nebraska.gov/electron/ind_e-file.html
Nevada – No state income tax.
New Hampshire – No state income tax.
New Jersey – Free NJWebFile: http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/pcfile/njwebfile.shtml
Oklahoma – Free e-filing for qualifying taxpayers: https://www.ok.gov/tax/Individuals/Income_Tax/E-File_Options/Free_File/
Oregon – Free e-filing for qualifying taxpayers: http://www.oregon.gov/DOR/programs/individuals/Pages/individuals-e-filing.aspx
Pennsylvania – Free e-filing for qualifying taxpayers: http://www.revenue.pa.gov/OnlineServices/PersonalIncomeTaxe-Services/Pages/File-My-Taxes-(PA-e-File).aspx#.VHSUtVXF_Iw
Rhode Island – Partners with several major tax software providers: http://www.tax.ri.gov/misc/efile.php
South Carolina – Partners with several major tax software providers:http://www.sctax.org/Electronic+Services/FastFile/default.htm
South Dakota – No state income tax.
Tennessee – No state income tax.
Texas – No state income tax.
Vermont – Partners with several major tax software providers: http://www.state.vt.us/tax/eservices.shtml
Virginia – Partners with several major tax software providers: http://www.tax.virginia.gov/site.cfm?alias=freefile
Washington – No state income tax.
West Virginia – Partners with several major tax software providers:http://tax.wv.gov/Individuals/ElectronicFiling/Pages/FreeFileOptions.aspx
Wyoming – No state income tax.
IRA VITA Tax Filing Locations
Additionally, there are programs to have your taxes prepared by someone else for free. I “worked” for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) in college. The IRS says you qualify if your income is under $54k, but in my own experience, as long as your return is simple, the dollar amounts don’t really matter. But the guy in charge of our site was pretty lenient.
They have locations listed on the IRS website.
Free File also can help taxpayers with the new health care requirements. Just as last filing season, almost everyone will need to do something when filing a tax return this year. For each month in 2015, taxpayers and everyone on their return must:
- Report health care coverage, or
- Claim an exemption from coverage or
- Make a shared responsibility payment with their tax return.