Where to File Taxes Online for Free

By Katherine Kally

  • Overview

    Filing your income taxes is never a pleasure, but filing your taxes online for free makes the chore more palatable. The IRS accepts free online e-filing for your federal tax returns, if you meet their criteria. The IRS has partnered with over 20 companies that offer free software enabling you to complete and e-file your federal taxes for free. Free income-tax filing for your state may be available from some of the partner companies.
    Preparing Taxes
    • Step 1

      Go to IRS.gov to see if you qualify to file your federal income-tax return online for free. If your adjusted gross income (AGI) was less than 56,000 in 2008, you can file your federal taxes online for free. Even if your AGI is more than 56,000, you may be able to file for free this year using the "fillable forms" option on the free file website. In order to file your federal taxes for free, you must start with the IRS.gov website and click the "Free File Home" link.
    • Step 2

      Click "Start Now" at the bottom of the "Free File Home" page. You will be taken to the IRS free file page where you can begin to search for the free file company that will work best for your circumstances.

    • Step 3

      Establish whether you are eligible to use any of the free file companies listed. Each partner company will have their eligibility requirements listed in their descriptions. If you are having trouble identifying a free service company, click on the IRS "Guide Me to a Company" tool. This interactive tool will ask you a series of questions to help narrow down the list of free file companies that can help you file your taxes for free.
    • Step 4

      Click on the link to the free file company you select. You will leave the IRS.gov website and be taken to the company's website where you can prepare your taxes. Once you are in the midst of entering your information, you may discover that you are not eligible to file your federal taxes for free with the particular company you have chosen. Some of the companies' criteria for free filing may have lower adjusted gross incomes than the IRS guidelines dictate, and you may be required to pay for their filing services. It is very important that you understand the free filing criteria outlined by the partner company before you file your taxes with them. If you're halfway through the preparation process and discover that you cannot file for free with the company you chose, go back to IRS.gov and search for another company.
    • Step 5

      Prepare your tax return and file it using the company's software. The filing process is called "e-file," which means that your return is filed electronically. Persons who use e-file typically receive their returns in 10 days or less. You can choose to have your returns deposited directly into your checking account, which may make the entire process even smoother.
    • Skill: Easy
    • Ingredients:
    • Computer
    • Internet connection
    • Tip: Gather all of your pertinent information before beginning to file your taxes.
    • Warning:
    • Pay attention to the specifics of each company's free filing criteria before you begin to prepare your taxes.

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