With IRS Free File, eligible taxpayers can use guided tax preparation software to electronically prepare and file their federal income tax returns. It is simple, safe, and cost-free for you. You can still use Free File Fillable Forms if you don't qualify.
Individual tax filers, regardless of income, can use IRS Free File to electronically request an automatic tax-filing extension.
Choose from IRS Free File:
Option 1: Guided Tax Software
(for Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of no more than $79,000) Give the software the job to do.
- Answer simple questions
- Choose between trusted IRS partners you qualify for
- Accurate math calculations guaranteed
- Free state tax preparation and filing with some trusted partners
- Prepare and file your federal return in Spanish
Option 2: Fillable Forms
You do all the work using form instructions
- Available for any income level
- No guidance and limited calculations provided
- No state tax preparation and filing
What is IRS Free File?
The IRS Free File Programme is a public-private collaboration between the IRS and numerous software providers for tax preparation and filing, offering free online tax preparation and filing services. It offers people two free online options for preparing and filing their federal income tax:
- At an IRS partner site, Guided Tax Software offers free online tax preparation and filing services. Qualifying taxpayers receive this service at no cost from our partners. Taxpayers are eligible for a free federal tax return if their AGI is $79,000 or less.
- Free File Fillable Forms are the digital version of federal tax forms, which are comparable to 1040 paper forms. You ought to be able to file your own taxes by following form instructions and, if necessary, consulting IRS publications. For taxpayers with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of more than $79,000, it offers a free option.
Find what you need to get started, your protections and security, available forms and more about IRS Free File below.
Learn about IRS Free File, including what you need to get started, your security and protections, forms that are available, and more. Use tab to go to the next focusable element.
How IRS Free File offers work
- You have to start using IRS.gov to file. If you head straight to a company's website, you won't get the perks that are listed here.
- Choose an IRS Free File option, guided tax preparation or Free File Fillable Forms.
- To create a new account or log in to an existing account if you are an existing user, you will be redirected to the IRS partner's website.
- Prepare and e-file your federal tax return.
- Receive an email when the IRS has accepted your return.
The IRS Free File Programme provides taxpayers with access to the most frequently filed schedules and forms..
About IRS Free File partnership with online tax preparation companies
The IRS and the Free File Alliance, a group of top tax preparation software providers, have partnered to create the IRS Free File programme, which is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP). IRS Free File partners are online tax preparation firms that participate in the "IRS Free File" programme, which offers qualifying taxpayers free federal tax return preparation and filing via electronic means (some may also give free state returns). The IRS Free File initiative PPP is not your typical contractual structure; rather, it is a cooperative effort that strikes a balance between shared accountability and federal government objectives. The Free File Alliance, which works with the IRS to provide free electronic federal tax preparation and filing for you, is made up of the online tax preparation software partners. The goal of this nonprofit, public-private collaboration is to assist millions of people in preparing and submitting their federal taxes for free online.
The IRS does not endorse any individual partner company.
What you need to get started
Personal information you need
- Accessing your AGI requires a copy of your tax return from the previous year.
- Valid Social Security numbers for yourself, your spouse, and any dependent, if applicable
Income and receipts
- Social Security benefits
- Unemployment Compensation
- All receipts pertaining to your small business, if applicable
- Income receipts from rental, real estate, royalties, partnerships, S corporation, trusts
- W-2s, showing your annual wages from all of your employers
- Form 1099-INT, which details the interest you were paid all year long
- Form 1099-G, which details any state and local tax offset, credit, or refund
- Forms 1099-DIV and 1099-R, which detail the payments you received for dividends and distributions from retirement and other plans throughout the year
- Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement. For more information see Affordable Care Act (ACA) Tax Provisions.
- Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit
- You have to sign and confirm your electronic tax return when filing electronically and self-preparing your taxes. Use your previous year's AGI or self-selected signature personal identifying number (PIN) to prove your identity. Use a five-digit self-select PIN, any five numbers (apart from all zeros) that you pick, as your electronic signature on your tax return.
- If you have a copy of your previous year's tax return and are unsure of your AGI from that year, you can obtain that information by logging into your online account. To examine your adjusted gross income (AGI) and access your tax records from the previous year, this is the quickest and most convenient method.
- You can get a tax return transcript via mail that displays your AGI from the previous year if you are unable to log into your online account.
- To get a notification from the Free File software company that your return was accepted by IRS, you need a valid email address.
While it is being transferred to the IRS, your information is shielded from any unauthorised access. Without your informed and voluntary cooperation, Free File partner companies are not permitted to divulge or use tax return information for reasons other than preparing tax returns. The IRS e-file guidelines and the Federal Trade Commission's Privacy and Safeguards Rules also apply to these businesses.
When you use IRS Free File, no information about you is gathered or stored by us. Permanent Internet cookies are not permitted under our policy. In order to ensure that you are the intended recipient of the information you requested, we occasionally utilise "temporary" or "session" cookies. These are removed at the conclusion of your online session.
Please be aware that IRS Free File can only be used to file tax returns for the current year. IRS Free File cannot be used to process a return from a previous year.
Only registered tax preparers for the two prior tax years are able to electronically file prior year returns. For returns from previous years, the IRS does not permit electronic filing via self-preparation websites. Prior year returns must be printed, signed, and mailed. You can locate preparers in your area who currently possess IRS-recognized professional credentials or who possess an Annual Filing Season Programme Record of Completion by using our Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. Additionally, you can look into the associations that many tax preparers are members of.
Related tools and information
- Create or browse your account to see your outstanding balance, payment history, and other tax account details..
- Get up-to-date information on your refund.
- Never forget to print your return following an online filing success. You can acquire a free transcript if you don't remember to print your return. You will receive some or all of the information from your return, depending on the sort of transcript you have requested.
- See the IRS Procedures guideline, How to tell the IRS my address has changed, for instructions on how to update your address on file..
- See the IRS Procedures guidelines if you would like to modify the information on file for your bank account. What should I do if my refund is being deposited directly into my account and I supplied the wrong routing number?
- Paying your individual tax bill or estimated tax payment from your savings or checking account is free when you use Direct Pay.
- Get a replacement Social Security benefit statement Form SSA-1099 online.
- Lacking a bank account? Visit the FDIC website to identify a bank that offers an online account that suits your needs. Check out your possibilities with the Veterans Benefits Banking Programme (VBBP) if you're a veteran. Asking your tax preparer about electronic payment choices is another option.
The benefits of the Free File program to you
- You can get a free federal tax return by selecting a Free File company's offer after reviewing the requirements for each offer on IRS.gov if you're new to Free File. You won't be charged for preparing and electronically filing your federal tax return if you select a programme and meet the requirements.
- The same business that provided you with IRS Free File last year will send you an email extending a warm welcome back to their official IRS Free File services. A link to the business' IRS Free File website and instructions on how to file using it must be included in the email. You won't be charged for preparing and electronically filing a federal tax return if you select this email link and meet the requirements.
- It is not allowed to pay fees to file your federal return: If you are eligible, filing your federal tax return will not cost you anything if you participate in the Free File Programme. In exchange for the Free File programme member preparing your federal tax return, you won't be required to purchase any goods or services (like incentives).
- Free File does not include bank goods that require fees. You cannot be given bank products—such return transfer products like refund anticipation loans (RALs)—that frequently have product fees as part of IRS Free File.
- Free state returns may be available: Some IRS Free File Program partner companies offer free state tax preparation. Others charge a state fee. Be sure to read each company’s information carefully.
- Each Free File Company Guarantees the Accuracy of the Return Calculations: Each company lists this guarantee on its Free File website. You can pursue any accuracy concerns directly with the company that prepared your return.
- You have choices: If you don’t qualify for an IRS Free File offer after visiting a company’s Free File website, you can return to the IRS.gov Free File website to seek a Free File offer that may meet your needs. Each IRS Free File company will provide you information when you don’t qualify, with a link back to the IRS.gov Free File site.
- Seek help if you need it: If you need help when you are at a company’s IRS Free File site and doing your taxes, you may refer to the company’s free customer service options.
- IRS can help find a free option for you. IRS Free File has an IRS Free File online look-up tool to help you find an offer that best meets your needs.
IRS helps taxpayers by providing penalty relief on nearly 5 million 2020 and 2021 tax returns; restart of collection notices in 2024 marks end of pandemic-related pause
WASHINGTON — In a major step to help people who owe back taxes, the Internal Revenue Service today announced new penalty relief for approximately 4.7 million individuals, businesses and tax-exempt organizations that were not sent automated collection reminder notices during the pandemic.
The IRS will be providing about $1 billion in penalty relief. Most of those receiving the penalty relief make under $400,000 a year.
Due to the unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS temporarily suspended the mailing of automated reminders to pay overdue tax bills starting in February 2022. These reminders would have normally been issued as a follow up after the initial notice. Although these reminder notices were suspended, the failure-to-pay penalty continues to accrue for taxpayers who did not fully pay their bills in response to the initial balance due notice.
Given this unusual situation, the IRS is taking several steps in advance of resuming normal collection notices for tax years 2020 and 2021 to help taxpayers with unpaid tax bills, including some people who have not received a notice from the IRS in more than a year.
To help taxpayers as the normal processes resume, the IRS will be issuing a special reminder letter starting next month. The letter will alert the taxpayer of their liability, easy ways to pay and the amount of penalty relief, if applied. The IRS urges taxpayers who are unable to pay their full balance due to visit IRS.gov/payments to make arrangements to resolve their bill.
The IRS is also taking steps to waive the failure-to-pay penalties for eligible taxpayers affected by this situation for tax years 2020 and 2021. The IRS estimates 5 million tax returns -- filed by 4.7 million individuals, businesses, trusts, estates and tax-exempt organizations -- are eligible for the penalty relief. This represents $1 billion in savings to taxpayers, or about $206 per return.
As a first step, the IRS has adjusted eligible individual accounts and will follow with adjustments to business accounts in late December to early January, and then trusts, estates and tax-exempt organizations in late February to early March 2024. Nearly 70 percent of the individual taxpayers receiving penalty relief have income under $100,000 per year.
The IRS is releasing Notice 2024-7, which details how the agency is helping eligible taxpayers impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak fulfil their federal tax duties by offering failure-to-pay penalty relief.
"As the IRS has been preparing to return to normal collection mailings, we have been concerned about taxpayers who haven't heard from us in a while suddenly getting a larger tax bill. The IRS should be looking out for taxpayers, and this penalty relief is a common-sense approach to help people in this situation," said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. "We are taking other steps to help taxpayers with past-due bills, and we have options to help people struggling to pay."
This penalty relief is automatic. Eligible taxpayers don't need to take any action to get it. Eligible taxpayers who already paid their full balance will benefit from the relief, too; if a taxpayer already paid failure-to-pay penalties related to their 2020 and 2021 tax years, the IRS will issue a refund or credit the payment toward another outstanding tax liability.
The penalty relief only applies to eligible taxpayers with assessed tax under $100,000. Eligible taxpayers include individuals, businesses, trusts, estates and tax-exempt organizations that filed certain Forms 1040, 1120, 1041 and 990-T income tax returns for tax years 2020 or 2021, with an assessed tax of less than $100,000, and that were in the IRS collection notice process -- or were issued an initial balance due notice between Feb. 5, 2022, and Dec. 7, 2023. The IRS notes the $100,000 limit applies separately to each return and each entity. The failure-to-pay penalty will resume on April 1, 2024, for taxpayers eligible for relief.
In addition, taxpayers who are not qualified for this automatic relief have other choices. They may make advantage of currently available penalty relief options, such the First-Time Abate programme or submitting an application for relief under the reasonable cause requirements. To learn more, go to IRS.gov/penaltyrelief.
The tax transcripts of both individual and company taxpayers will show any refunds or credits that arise from the automatic relief. The first wave of refunds will be issued by the IRS between now and January 2024. Starting in early 2024, a special reminder message with the taxpayer's updated balance may be sent if they do not receive a refund. After March 31, 2024, taxpayers may contact the IRS with inquiries about penalty relief.
Help for taxpayers needing assistance
Whether it's a recent tax bill or a long-standing tax obligation for an unfiled return, the IRS reminds taxpayers that there are several ways to make payments and online resources available to assist with outstanding tax debts.
"The IRS wants to help taxpayers and provide them easy options to deal with unpaid tax bills and avoid additional interest and penalties," said Werfel. "People receiving these notices should remember that there are frequently overlooked options that can help them set up an automatic payment plan or catch up with their tax filings. Making additional improvements in the collection area will be an important focus for the IRS going forward as we continue and accelerate our transformation work."
With the help of new self-help tools like the IRS Document Upload Tool, enhanced phone support with callback features, and the addition of bots that can answer basic questions, set up or modify a payment plan, and request a transcript, taxpayers can now more easily get help with their tax bills thanks to funding from the Inflation Reduction Act. Additionally, the IRS advises individuals to open an IRS Online Account, which allows them to apply for an online payment plan and view details about outstanding tax bills.
Resumption of collection notices begins in 2024
In January, the IRS will begin sending automated collection notices and letters to individuals with tax debts prior to tax year 2022, and businesses, tax exempt organizations, trusts and estates with tax debts prior to 2023, with exceptions for those with existing debt in multiple years. These notices and letters were previously paused due to the pandemic and high inventories at the IRS but will gradually resume during the next several months. Current tax year 2022 individual and third quarter 2023 business taxpayers began receiving automated collection notices this fall as the IRS took steps to return to business as usual.
The pause in collection mailings affected only follow-up reminder mailings. The IRS did not suspend the mailing of the first, or initial, balance due notices for taxpayers such as the CP14 and CP161 notices.
The pause meant that some taxpayers who have long-standing tax debt have not received a formal letter or notice from the IRS in more than a year while some of this older collection work has been paused. To help the taxpayers in this category as the normal processes resume, the IRS will be issuing a special reminder letter to them starting next month.
This reminder letter will alert the taxpayer of the liability and will direct them to contact the IRS or make alternative arrangements to resolve the bill. Tax professionals and taxpayers will see these reminder letters in the form of letter LT38, Reminder, Notice Resumption.
This letter will remind taxpayers about their tax liability, giving them an opportunity to address the tax issue before the next round of letters are issued. After receiving the reminder mailing, these taxpayers with long-standing unresolved tax issues will receive the next notice, informing them of a more serious step in the tax collection process.
Before contacting the IRS, taxpayers are advised by the IRS to thoroughly read any letter or notification they receive. Important resources are also offered by IRS.gov to assist with tax debt.
The IRS will issue these balance due notices and letters in gradual stages next year to ensure taxpayers who have questions or need help are able to reach an IRS assistor. This will also provide additional time for tax professionals assisting taxpayers.
Here's what taxpayers should know about possible penalties and interest
Taxpayers who owe tax and don't file on time may be charged a failure-to-file penalty. This penalty is usually 5 percent of the tax owed for each month or part of a month that the tax return is late, up to 25 percent.
The failure-to-pay penalty applies if a taxpayer doesn't pay the taxes they report on their tax return by the due date or if the taxpayer doesn't pay the amount required to be shown on their return within 21 calendar days of receiving a notice demanding payment (or 10 business days if the amount is greater than $100,000).
When a tax balance is not paid in full on schedule, the IRS is mandated by law to assess interest. Interest cannot be lowered for a valid reason. Interest is calculated daily on the unpaid tax balance, based on the amount outstanding. Since interest is compounded everyday, it is calculated using the balance from the prior day plus interest. Interest rates are set every three months and might change according to the kind of tax owed, such as corporate or individual tax obligations. You can get more details on IRS.gov's interest page.
IRS: New Voluntary Disclosure Program lets employers who received questionable Employee Retention Credits pay them back at discounted rate; interested taxpayers must apply by March 22
WASHINGTON — As part of an ongoing initiative aimed at combating dubious Employee Retention Credit (ERC) claims, the Internal Revenue Service today launched a new Voluntary Disclosure Program to help businesses who want to pay back the money they received after filing ERC claims in error.
The new disclosure program, which has been in the works for several months, is part of a larger effort at the IRS to stop aggressive marketing around ERC that misled some employers into filing claims. The special disclosure program runs through March 22, 2024, and the IRS added provisions allowing repayment of 80% of the claim received.
The IRS also continues to urge employers with pending ERC claims to consider a separate withdrawal program that allows them to remove a pending ERC claim with no interest or penalty. The IRS has already received more than $100 million in withdrawals as the agency continues intensifying audits and criminal investigation work in this area.
As these special initiatives for ERC continue, the IRS will provide an update in the new year on the status of the moratorium. Additionally, the IRS mailed out 20,000 denial letters to ERC claimants earlier this month.
"The disclosure program provides a much-needed option for employers who were pulled into these claims and now realize they shouldn't have applied," said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. "From discussions we have had with taxpayers and tax professionals around the country, we understand that there are many employers eager to correct their error, but who remain concerned about their ability to pay back the portion of the credit that has been lost to the promoter that brought them into this mess. This new option, with an opportunity to get right with a lower financial cost, provides the relief these taxpayers requested. The new initiative will also help with our ongoing efforts to gather information on promoters who created this situation by aggressively pushing people to apply for the credit."
Interested employers must apply to the ERC Voluntary Disclosure Program by March 22, 2024. Those that the IRS accepts into the program will need to repay only 80% of the credit they received. If the IRS paid interest on the employer's ERC refund claim, the employer doesn't need to repay that interest. Employers who are unable to repay the required 80% of the credit may be considered for an installment agreement on a case-by-case basis, pending submission and review of a Form 433-B, Collection Information Statement for Businesses, available on IRS.gov, and all required supporting documentation.
The IRS will not charge program participants interest or penalties on any credits they repay. However, if the employer is unable to repay the required 80% of the credit at the time of signing their closing agreement, then the employer will be required to pay penalties and interest in connection with entering into an installment agreement.
The IRS selected an 80% repayment because many of the ERC promoters charged a percentage fee that they collected at the time of payment or in advance of the payment, and the recipients never received the full amount.
To qualify for this program, the employer must provide the IRS with the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any advisors or tax preparers who advised or assisted them with their claim and details about the services provided. Further qualifications and program details are in Announcement 2024-3PDF, posted today on IRS.gov.
As part of this expanding effort for employers that claimed an erroneous or excessive ERC, the IRS also announced today it has started sending up to 20,000 letters with proposed tax adjustments that will recapture the erroneously claimed ERC. These mailings – which are on top of the 20,000 denial letters announced earlier in December – are currently just for tax year 2020, and work continues for tax year 2021, with additional mailings planned. If the IRS identifies an employer that has received excessive or erroneous ERC, the agency will reclaim that ERC through normal tax assessment and collection procedures.
"These letters are another incentive for businesses that believe they received an erroneous Employee Retention Credit payment to come forward and participate in the disclosure program," Werfel said. "Our compliance activities involving these payments continue to accelerate, and the disclosure program's 80% repayment figure is much more generous than later IRS action, which includes steeper costs and greater risk. We hope these taxpayers take advantage of this window now."
ERC Voluntary Disclosure Program: Who can apply?
A variety of ERC recipients can apply. Any employer who already received the ERC for a tax period but isn't entitled to it can apply if the following are also true:
- The employer is not under criminal investigation and has not been notified that they are under criminal investigation.
- The employer is not under an IRS employment tax examination for the tax period for which they're applying to the Voluntary Disclosure Program.
- The employer has not received an IRS notice and demand for repayment of part or all of the ERC.
- The IRS has not received information from a third party that the taxpayer is not in compliance or has not acquired information directly related to the noncompliance from an enforcement action.
How to apply
The application, Form 15434, Application for Employee Retention Credit Voluntary Disclosure Programme, may be found on IRS.gov, must first be submitted by the company. The IRS Document Upload Tool must be used to submit this form. Employers shall reimburse their whole ERC, less the 20% reduction permitted by the Voluntary Disclosure Programme. Under some circumstances, employers that are unable to pay the entire sum due may choose to set up an installment agreement.
Employers who outsource their payroll must apply through the third party
Many employers outsource their payroll obligations to a third party who reports, collects and pays employment taxes on the employer's behalf using the third party's Employer Identification Number. In this situation, the third party, not the employer, must file Form 15434. See the form and its instructions for details.
Help options for those considering applying
Employers can better grasp the terms of the programme by consulting the IRS's frequently asked questions, which are included in a broader collection of material on ERC.
Once the employer has applied to the program and submitted their Form 15434, an IRS employee will contact them to go over the application and answer any questions.
Next steps after an application is approved
A closing agreement will be mailed to the employer if the IRS accepts the employer's application. The employer is then required to use the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) to reimburse 80% of the ERC they got, either over the phone or online. The majority of firms already use the Treasury Department's EFTPS system to pay their different federal tax obligations.
If the taxpayer is unable to pay the amount in full, they may enter into an installment agreement with the IRS to pay over time. However, under the standard installment agreement policy, penalties and interest will apply, so the IRS encourages those who cannot pay in full to consider obtaining a loan from a financial institution to avoid the costs of an installment agreement with the IRS. Once payment has been made, the employer must return the signed closing agreement to the IRS.
Ongoing ERC initiatives
The new Voluntary Disclosure Program is just the latest step taken by the IRS in its ongoing fight against ERC fraud.
- In July, the IRS said it was shifting its focus to review ERC claims for compliance concerns, including intensifying audit work and criminal investigations on promoters and businesses filing dubious claims. The IRS has hundreds of criminal cases being worked, and thousands of ERC claims have been referred for audit.
- The IRS said on September 14 that it would no longer be accepting new ERC claims in response to tax experts' and others' concerns with aggressive ERC marketing. Improved compliance inspections of claims that were already filed before to the moratorium are essential for preventing fraud and for shielding companies and organisations from fines or interest payments resulting from false claims that promoters have pushed.
- Then, earlier this month, the IRS began sending an initial round of more than 20,000 letters to employers disallowing their ERC claims either because their business did not exist, or they didn't have employees for the period covered by their claim.
- As mentioned earlier, the IRS also announced today it has started sending letters to up to 20,000 employers that claimed an erroneous or excessive ERC that propose tax adjustments that will remove the ERC.
- In addition to these efforts, IRS audit and Criminal Investigation work involving ERC continues to expand involving dubious claims. The IRS has more than 300 criminal cases being worked with claims worth almost $3 billion, and thousands of ERC claims have been referred for audit.
IRS reminder: Still time to withdraw pending ERC claims
Additionally, petitions to withdraw an employer's entire ERC claim through the special withdrawal process are still being accepted and handled by the IRS. Employers can ask for a withdrawal up until the very end of the year.
The IRS continues to see a large amount of interest in the withdrawals, with more than $100 million from pending applicants withdrawn by early December. With the announcement of the Voluntary Disclosure Program today, the IRS continues to urge pending applicants to review their claims.
This withdrawal option allows certain employers that filed an ERC claim but have not yet received a refund to withdraw their submission and avoid future repayment, interest and penalties. Employers that submitted an ERC claim that has not yet been paid can withdraw their claim and avoid the possibility of getting a refund for which they're ineligible. They can also withdraw their claim if they've received a check but have not yet deposited or cashed it.
The IRS created the withdrawal option to help small business owners and others who were pressured or misled by ERC marketers or promoters into filing ineligible claims. Claims that are withdrawn will be treated as if they were never filed. The IRS will not impose penalties or interest.
During this period, the IRS warns taxpayers to use extreme caution before applying for the ERC as aggressive maneuvers continue by marketers and scammers. In addition, the IRS continues to urge employers who submitted claims to review the ERC requirements and talk to a trusted tax professional about their eligibility amid misleading marketing around the credit.
The ERC is a refundable tax credit that is available to businesses that had a decline in gross receipts during the eligibility periods, or that continued to pay employees during the COVID-19 pandemic despite having their business operations suspended in whole or in part by a government order.
See the ERC Eligibility Checklist and ERC Frequently Asked Questions for additional details on ERC eligibility, which is available as an interactive tool or as a printable guidePDF.