For tax filing, the shift from paper to digital has increased substantially. More than 3 million tax returns have been filed through the IRS’ Free File program since its inception in 2003 because of its ease and affordability. The IRS even encourages taxpayers to file their tax returns online.
It is not only in tax filing, but also in tax preparation that online resources have become the norm. Taxpayers who do not want to hire a tax preparer to file their taxes can now use software systems, such as TurboTax, H&R Block, or TaxAct to prepare their taxes themselves.
The IRS, in partnership with The Free File Alliance, is offering free tax preparation software at VITA program kiosks in 22 states. The Free File Alliance is a non-profit coalition of tax software companies designed to assist American taxpayers prepare and e-file their tax returns at no cost.
According to The Free File Alliance, 70 percent of American taxpayers (about 100 million) are eligible for free filing. There are certain requirements, both from the IRS and participating tax software companies, that taxpayers must fulfill to get their taxes prepared for free.
The IRS’ Free File is a basic service, where taxpayers can only do basic tax calculations to file their tax returns. It is only after professionally preparing their tax returns with the help of tax preparers, or tax software, that taxpayers can file their returns online. Taxpayers can find the online versions of paper forms on the IRS’ website. Taxpayers who have state taxes cannot file taxes through the IRS’ Free File service.
The IRS has introduced their “Where’s My Refund?” site where taxpayers can check the status of their refund. Though the status given may not be exact, taxpayers can get an idea of when to expect their refund. For the safe preparation and filing of tax returns, taxpayers must be careful of tax scammers who use copies of legitimate tax software and websites to steal taxpayers’ identities.