The IRS announced the availability of Free File, providing taxpayers with online tax preparation products available at no charge.
The launch of IRS Free File, available only through IRS.gov, provides people an early opportunity to file their taxes and claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit, the enhanced Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and other important credits.
Taxpayers can use Free File to claim the remaining amount of their Child Tax Credit and claim any advance payments of the Child Tax Credit they did not receive in 2021.
Leading tax software providers make their online products available for free as part of a 20-year partnership with the Internal Revenue Service. This year, there are eight products in English and two in Spanish. IRS Free File is available to any person or family who earned $73,000 or less in 2021, according to a news release.
“Free File is part of a wide selection of services available on IRS.gov to help people file taxes during this challenging period,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig in a news release. “IRS Free File offers taxpayers an easy, free way to do their taxes from the safety of their own home. Free File also provides electronic filing with direct deposit, which is the best way to avoid delays and receive refunds quickly and securely.”
Because the filing season starts on Jan. 24, 2022, IRS Free File providers will accept completed tax returns and hold them until they can be filed electronically on that date. The Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms, will be available on January 24, 2022. Free File Fillable Forms is available for use by everyone, regardless of income, but should be used only by people who are comfortable preparing their taxes.
How IRS Free File Works
Each IRS Free File provider sets its own eligibility rules for products based on age, income, and state residency. However, for those who make $73,000 or less, they will find at least one product that matches their needs, and usually more. Some providers also offer free state income tax return preparation. [Some state tax benefits, such as state Earned Income Tax Credits, are based on information contained on the taxpayer’s federal income tax return. Taxpayers are encouraged to check with their state tax agency about state tax benefits and requirements to file a state income tax return.] Active-duty military can use any IRS Free File product if their income was $73,000 or less, the news release added.
Here’s a step-by-step overview of how to find the right Free File product:
- Go to IRS.gov/freefile.
- Use the “Choose an IRS Free File Offer” tool for help in finding the right product, or
- Review each offer by a provider using the “Browse All” tool.
- Select a product.
- Follow links to the provider’s website to begin a tax return.
No computer? No problem. Taxpayers can complete and file their tax returns using IRS Free File products through smartphones or tablets.
Child Tax Credit, 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit, and More Tax Benefits
IRS Free File is all taxpayers need to claim the Child Tax Credit (CTC), 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit, and other tax benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
The IRS also continues to urge people who received one or more advance Child Tax Credit payments in 2021 to carefully review their taxes before filing. Families who received advance payments will need to compare the advance Child Tax Credit payments they received in 2021 with the amount of the Child Tax Credit they can properly claim on their 2021 tax return. To help taxpayers who received an advance Child Tax Credit payment, the IRS started sending Letter 6419, 2021 Advance CTC, in late December 2021.
The letter contains important information on advance Child Tax Credit payments that can help ensure the tax return is accurate. People who received the advance CTC payments can also check the number of their payments by using the CTC Update Portal available on IRS.gov.
In late January, the IRS will begin sending Letter 6475, Your Third Economic Impact Payment, to individuals who received a third stimulus payment in 2021, including initial and “plus-up” payments. While most eligible people already received their Economic Impact Payments or stimulus payments, this letter will help them determine if they are eligible to claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit for missing stimulus payments. If so, they must file a 2021 tax return to claim this credit. People can also use IRS online account to view both payment amounts.
IRS Free File also can be used by workers to claim the EITC, which provides a refundable tax credit based on a filer’s income and family size.
Please remember that unemployment benefits paid by states are taxable income. States should send Forms 1099-G to those who received jobless benefits.
IRS Free File Participants
For 2022, these providers are participating in IRS Free File:
- ezTaxReturn.com (available in Spanish)
- FreeTaxReturn.com INC
- On-Line Taxes at OLT.com
- FreeTaxUSA ®
- TaxSlayer (coming soon in Spanish)