Q: How do eligible taxpayers access this service?
A: First, taxpayers must have access to a computer and the Internet. Then, go to www.IRS.gov/freefile to take a look at the brand-name software companies from which you may choose to prepare and e-file your federal tax return for free. Once you have selected the tax software provider, you will be directed to that company’s website. From there, the company will provide step-by-step online assistance to answer tax law questions and resolve technical issues. The participating companies offer the most commonly filed tax forms through this service. Tax refunds may be issued within 10 days. The online service is available in English and Spanish. Taxpayers who are above the income limits and who do not require tax preparation assistance may access Free File’s basic e-filing service. Go to www.IRS.gov/freefile to find the Free File Fillable Forms to complete and file electronically. All participating Free File Alliance companies are subject to privacy standards in accordance with Treasury Department regulations and may not use or disclose tax return information without consent of the taxpayer.
Q: What help is available for taxpayers who don’t have access to a computer?
A: According to a recent internal watchdog report, the IRS answered only six in 10 phone calls from taxpayers seeking help in the last fiscal year. That added up to nearly 20 million unanswered phone calls. taxpayers who did get through were put on hold on average 17.6 minutes.
For taxpayers below a certain income and older taxpayers who don’t have access to a computer, two volunteer-based programs are available throughout local communities across the country, offering tax assistance through April 15. The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs offer free tax help for taxpayers who qualify. These programs offer face-to-face help with simple tax return questions. VITA offers help to people who make $52,000 or less. TCE gives priority assistance to people age 60 and older. To locate a VITA site in your area, call toll-free (800) 906-9887. To locate the nearest TCE site, call toll-free (888) 227-7669.