The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

February 18, 2014

What is the Free File program and is it affiliated with the IRS?

Q: Is there a one-stop shop for frequently asked questions during tax filing season?

A: The Nobel-winning physicist Albert Einstein reportedly said, “the hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.” That’s something coming from the man whose last name is interchangeable with genius. The Presidents’ Day holiday weekend typically kicks off the busiest weeks of tax filing season leading up to the tax-filing deadline on April 15. The IRS encourages taxpayers to visit IRS.gov as the easiest, fastest, most convenient way to get answers. The IRS also launched a daily tax tips service that taxpayers may access for free by e-mail subscription. Through April 15, the IRS will send daily, easy-to-read tips on frequently asked questions that affect millions of taxpayers. The daily reminders offer insight into often-overlooked tax credits or deductions, consumer alerts, refunds, etc. Visit IRS.gov for more information. One of the biggest tips may be to file electronically if possible. According to the IRS nearly 120 million taxpayers chose to file their tax returns electronically last year. The IRS says it is the safest, fastest and easiest way to submit individual tax returns. Since 1990, taxpayers have e-filed more than 1 billion Form 1040 series tax returns.

Q: What is the Free File program and is it affiliated with the IRS?

A: Yes. Taxpayers who qualify for this program will find it an efficient, user-friendly tool to help them prepare, complete and e-file their 2013 federal tax returns free-of-charge. Since 2003, the IRS has partnered with a coalition of 14 private-sector tax software providers to offer free tax prep and electronic filing options for individual taxpayers. Those with adjusted gross incomes in 2013 of $58,000 or less may qualify to use this service. That makes 70 percent of U.S. taxpayers eligible to take advantage of this free-of-charge, online tax preparation service. In the last decade, 40 million taxpayers have filed their federal taxes through Free File.

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