Make us your home page
Instagram

Group, IRS provide free options for filing tax returns electronically

iStockphoto.com

iStockphoto.com

If you have low to moderate annual income, you're most likely eligible for a variety of free or reduced-rate options for completing and electronically filing your federal income tax return.

The Internal Revenue Service teams with a nonprofit group comprising 14 commercial tax software companies to provide free online tax software. The Free File Alliance includes Intuit, maker of TurboTax, and H&R Block, as well as companies like TaxSlayer and 1040Now.

If your income is less than $58,000, you're eligible for one or more offerings from Free File. Over time, the alliance has made changes to make the offerings easier to use, like eliminating pop-up advertisements for financial and other products, said Tim Hugo, the alliance's executive director. The software asks questions about your specific situation and guides you through completion of your tax return step by step.

Details of each offering may vary from company to company. To use the Free File offering from TurboTax's Free File software, for instance, your adjusted gross income must be $30,000 or less; it can be up to $58,000, however, if you are an active member of the military.

If you make more than $58,000, you're not eligible for Free File's tax preparation software. But anyone can use the free online version of federal tax forms, known as Free File Fillable Forms, regardless of income. The forms are essentially electronic version of the federal government's paper tax forms. With this option — it's best to be experienced at preparing your own tax return — you can complete your return online and file it electronically at no charge. You'll get minimal guidance from the system, though, and may have to do some calculations yourself.

This year's tax filing deadline is April 15; if you need more time, you can use Free File software to file for an extension.

Here are some additional questions to consider about Free File:

How do I know if I'm eligible for Free File tax software?

You qualify to use Free File software if your adjusted gross income, or AGI, for 2013 was $58,000 or less. The alliance suggests you refer to the return you filed for 2012 for a quick estimate of your 2013 income. If you used Form 1040EZ, you'll find your AGI on line 4; for form 1040A, it's line 21; and for form 1040, it's line 37.

How do I get access to the free online software?

You must go through the IRS website (irs.gov). You can browse the various options or fill out a questionnaire that will help you narrow down the choices. Once you select the software you want to use, the site will direct you to the website of the appropriate provider so you can complete your return. Don't go directly to the software maker's website without going to the IRS site first, though, or you may be charged a fee.

Are there any fees associated with using Free File?

There's no fee to use the software to prepare your federal return, or to file your return electronically. There may be a transaction fee if, for instance, you owe money and opt to pay your tax bill using a credit card, Hugo said.

Group, IRS provide free options for filing tax returns electronically 03/14/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 14, 2014 7:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Expanded Belle Parc RV Resort lures travelers with plenty of amenities

    Business

    BROOKSVILLE — Imagine mid-mansion, upscale-enclave living. On wheels. The outcome is Belle Parc, an upwardly mobile, even luxury, RV retreat just north of Brooksville that opened Jan. 1 after two years undergoing expansion, uplift and amenity enrichment.

    A new welcome center is under construction, rear, at Belle Parc RV Resort, where lake sites are being completed, bringing the resort's capacity to 275 spacious park-and-stay slots.
 [Photo by Beth N. Gray]
  2. Memorial Day sales not enough to draw shoppers to Tampa Bay malls

    Retail

    TAMPA — Memorial Day sales at Tampa Bay area malls were not enough to compete with the beach and backyard barbecues this holiday weekend.

    Memorial Day sales weren't enough to draw shoppers to Tampa Bay area malls over the long weekend. 
[JUSTINE GRIFFIN | Times]
  3. Austin software company acquires second Tampa business

    Corporate

    Austin, Tex.-based Asure Software acquired Tampa's Compass HRM Inc. late last week for $6 million. Compass focuses on HR and payroll.

    [Company photo]
  4. Hackers hide cyberattacks in social media posts

    Business

    SAN FRANCISCO — It took only one attempt for Russian hackers to make their way into the computer of a Pentagon official. But the attack didn't come through an email or a file buried within a seemingly innocuous document.

    Jay Kaplan and Mark Kuhr, former NSA employees and co-founders of Synack, a cybersecurity company, in their office in Palo Alto, Calif., in 2013. While last year's hacking of senior Democratic Party officials raised awareness of the damage caused if just a handful of employees click on the wrong emails, few people realize that a message on Twitter or Facebook could give an attacker similar access to their system. 
[New York Times file photo]
  5. Big rents and changing tastes drive dives off St. Pete's 600 block

    Music & Concerts

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kendra Marolf was behind the lobby bar of the State Theatre, pouring vodka sodas for a weeknight crowd packed tight for Bishop Briggs, the latest alternative artist to sell out her club.

    Sam Picciano, 25, left, of Tampa and Molly Cord 24, Palm Harbor shop for record albums for a friend at Daddy Kool Records located on the 600 block of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida on Saturday, May 20, 2017. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times