IRS Free File Program
Free File is online tax preparation and electronic filing through a partnership agreement between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, LLC. Services are provided by commercial companies, not the IRS. Not everyone will qualify for Free File. There are a few important points you should know before starting the Free File process:
Free Services provided by commercial companies
Members of the tax software industry (i.e., Free File Alliance, LLC) provide these free tax preparation and electronic filing services - not the IRS. Once you choose a particular company, you will be sent directly to the company's commercial web site. Any questions about a particular service or company should be directed to the company providing the free service and not the IRS. Please contact the company to resolve your particular income tax issue.
The government believes that private industry, given its established expertise and experience in the field of electronic tax preparation, has a proven track record in providing the best technology and services available. In addition, the government believes a partnership with private industry will: provide taxpayers with higher quality services by using the existing expertise of the private sector; maximize consumer choice; promote competition within the marketplace; and meet objectives in the least costly manner to taxpayers.
You are under no obligation to buy any additional services
During the course of preparing your free file tax return, you may choose to browse other products and services that some companies may provide for a fee. You are under no obligation to buy additional products and services. The decision to buy these services is entirely up to you. For example, a company may offer you an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or a mutual fund or other investment related products for a fee.
You do not need to buy these products or services as a condition for preparing and e-filing your federal income tax return for free. As long as you meet the company’s free offer criteria, you may simply prepare and e-file your federal return for free.
IRS Free File does not endorse Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs) or any other advance refund banking products
You are under no obligation to use Refund Anticipation Loans or purchase any product from the participating company (Some participating companies do not offer such services). Obtaining a fee-based product is a decision left to the individual taxpayer. The IRS reminds you that taxpayers using e-file with direct deposit can lead to receiving a refund within two weeks or less.
You may exceed eligibility criteria after selecting a company
If you do not qualify for the selected company’s free offer, you may want to check other free file company offers by accessing the IRS.gov Free File page. If you are on the company’s web site, look for the link that returns to IRS.gov and search for another Free File service. Go back and scan the listing of free company services.
If you do not qualify for the company’s free offer but continue with the preparation and e-filing process with this company, please be aware you will be charged a fee for preparing and e-filing your federal tax return. For example, if you select a company whose free services are provided to individuals with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $26,000 or less and, based on your tax data, the company determines your AGI exceeds the $26,000 limit, you will be notified you may be subject to a fee. It is important you understand each of the company's eligibility criteria before selecting a company. You may find the fee by looking under “more details” next to the company’s description on the Free File pages.
Access the Free File services by selecting a company from the IRS.gov web site
When selecting a company for the first time, make certain you access the company’s web site through the IRS.gov web site. If you choose to access the company’s web site directly, even if you qualify for their free offer, you may not remain eligible for the free service. After you enter a company’s free file site from the IRS.gov site for the first time, you will remain eligible for the company’s free offer even if you return from another web site or URL.
Your tax information and data will be protected -- Privacy and Security concerns
Your tax information and data will be protected. To ensure your data's safety, we require participating companies to obtain both privacy and security seal certifications. These certification programs, administered by third party providers, certify your tax return information is protected from unauthorized access during the tax preparation process. For more information, we encourage you to visit the company's privacy and security policy located on the company’s web site.
How will Taxpayers' security and privacy be protected?
- Tax return preparation is accomplished using proprietary software approved by the IRS; transmittal is through the established IRS e-file system.
- Each company must attain a third party privacy and security certification.
- Alliance companies must comply with all federal rules and regulations on taxpayer privacy for paying and free customers. These rules prohibit use of tax return data for purposes not specifically authorized by the taxpayer.
- The IRS monitors the progress of each of the companies. If any problems develop, the companies are required to alert the IRS. If appropriate, the IRS will remove the company from the IRS.gov site until the problem is resolved.
- For more information about IRS Privacy and Security Policy, please visit the “ IRS Privacy and Security Policy” page.
Source: Internal Revenue Service, United Stated Dept. of the Treaury,
for further information: http://www.irs.gov/help/index.html