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The IRS offers a completely free service for filing taxes using a simple 3-step process, perhaps not surprisingly given they want to encourage everyone to pay their taxes! But how good is the service they’re offering?
Well actually, not bad! There’s plenty of information on the IRS.gov website about how to go about calculating your taxes, filling in their forms and submitting them. You can also find out about contacting your local IRS offices, join a mailing group to keep up to date on the latest news or access contact information if you need to contact a member of their staff directly. The site is well organised but pretty text heavy. That said, the site is not written in a complicated way, which is a great relief as it can be easy to get lost amongst all the tax jargon that litters other websites. You can also follow forums and chats using Facebook and Twitter, which is a good option if you have general or specific questions you think the community might be able to help with. Although there is a lot of information provided, we would have liked to have seen a search option which focused only on FAQ results, as you currently have to search through all questions within a category to find what you want. A live messenger service would also have been a great addition.
You have two main options as a tax payer using this site: the first is to use free tax filing software if your AGI was less than $57,000. You can choose from a range of websites which offer free programs and services, including some of those we have reviewed elsewhere in this category. The ISRFreeFile site provides a few bullet points’ worth of information about each site so you can easily scan through them to find one which you think will suit your needs. If you earned over $57,000 then you can still file your taxes for free using e-forms. However these e-forms do not offer you the option to file state tax returns and only performs very basic calculations.
Before starting all of this, however, you are required to provide a number of important forms, including a copy of your previous year’s tax return, your W-2s, 1099s and any other relevant forms. You also need to determine your AGI. It’s quite a lot of information to have before even being allowed to check out the software and make a basic start on filling in the information. You are able, however, to read the FreeFile FAQ or the FAQ on the free forms available, which means you aren’t going in blind.
Although the IRS doesn’t really offer a wide range of features (such as tax calculators, online cloud storage or the means to file federal taxes) it offers a choice of methods for submitting those forms it does cover. The site is reliable and free, so definitely a good option if you can’t afford to pay for a service which offers a few extras.
Click on the button below to check out IRS Free File for yourself...