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https://www.irs.gov/uac/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free
https://apps.irs.gov/app/freeFile/jsp/index.jsp

Please note that this option is different from Free Fillable Forms where you fill out the forms directly yourself: https://www.irs.gov/uac/before-starting-free-file-fillable-forms

A third option is tax preparation help by volunteers for those who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited English speaking taxpayers. This is an in person option: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-...

Credit Karma's offer has its own thread: https://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1544785

Last year's AGI limit was $62k: https://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1479307
 

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Anyone else think there should be a sensible free option for folks regardless of income level/age? It is possible for someone to have high income and also be heavily in debt or struggling. Easy examples are high cost of living areas like New York and Bay Area CA.

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justignoredem said:   Anyone else think there should be a sensible free option for folks regardless of income level/age? It is possible for someone to have high income and also be heavily in debt or struggling. Easy examples are high cost of living areas like New York and Bay Area CA.
Credit Karma to offer free tax filing for tax year 2016

*EDIT* The option above was also already mentioned in the OP of this thread.

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TheDiggler said:   
justignoredem said:   Anyone else think there should be a sensible free option for folks regardless of income level/age? It is possible for someone to have high income and also be heavily in debt or struggling. Easy examples are high cost of living areas like New York and Bay Area CA.
Credit Karma to offer free tax filing for tax year 2016 

*EDIT* The option above was also already mentioned in the OP of this thread.

  I mean an official option from the IRS. Credit Karma might be here this year, might charge something next year. 

It just seems ridiculous to have a complex tax code but not have a free option for people to do them.

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The average wage in the USA is around $50K, so the free filing option is targeting the majority of the average income filers. The free e-filing option does not go directly to the IRS. They are processed through third party vendors. The third party vendors need someone to subsidize the free e-filers, so the obvious choice would be those who earn more than the average wage.

"Seventy percent of taxpayers have an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $64,000 or less and are eligible for easy-to-use, brand-name software."

So being in the upper class does not always have its privileges.

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Besides, if there were an official tax prep software from the IRS to prepare your return, would you trust it to always get you the maximum refund that you can get legally, especially if you had a high income?

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FutureDilemma said:   Besides, if there were an official tax prep software from the IRS to prepare your return, would you trust it to always get you the maximum refund that you can get legally, especially if you had a high income?
 

If there was "official" software, then the third party vendors would go out of business. There was a proposal to set up a website called Cyberfile back in the 1990s that would allow direct filing through the Department of Commerce website.  It got shelved due to security concerns.  The idea behind how much tax you pay is that you only pay to the penny what you legally owe.  As for software that provides you tax strategies to help reduce the tax that you owe, I do not think the government is going to try to offer you handouts (unlike the EIC and Child Credit programs which are really trying to redistribute funds to the working poor).  I think the tax code is too complex to try to create a program that can cover all possible scenarios.

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fedguy said:   If there was "official" software, then the third party vendors would go out of business.
  This, and companies like Intuit do a good amount of lobbying to try to keep the IRS and state tax agencies out of that space. https://www.propublica.org/article/how-the-maker-of-turbotax-fou...

The Free File Alliance is the compromise that is supposed to make it free for most people while keeping the third party preparers in business, though I suspect a lot of people who would be eligible end up paying anyway because they didn't go to the right part of the website, they pay extra to file a state return, etc.

In fact poorer people may very well be lured into using expensive tax preparation and refund anticipation loan type products that effectively cost them more than much of the upper class pays for tax preparation.

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Excel 1040 + Free File Fillable Forms...

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kboran said:   
fedguy said:   If there was "official" software, then the third party vendors would go out of business.
  This, and companies like Intuit do a good amount of lobbying to try to keep the IRS and state tax agencies out of that space. https://www.propublica.org/article/how-the-maker-of-turbotax-fought-free-simple-tax-filing

The Free File Alliance is the compromise that is supposed to make it free for most people while keeping the third party preparers in business, though I suspect a lot of people who would be eligible end up paying anyway because they didn't go to the right part of the website, they pay extra to file a state return, etc.

In fact poorer people may very well be lured into using expensive tax preparation and refund anticipation loan type products that effectively cost them more than much of the upper class pays for tax preparation.

  The government needs you to pay more since there is a huge amount of unreported income.  Trying to provide information for everyone to pay less defeats the purpose of a balanced budget and pushes your deficits even higher.  Most poor people do not have computers, so access to online information about filing is not available to them.  They are then directed to tax preparation firms who lure you with fast refunds and easy filing.  If it gets changed to simple "post card" filing, then the third party vendors will disappear like all of those free unlimited internet access providers at the end of the last century.

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Military Members can file for free at:
https://militaryonesource.mil

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Taxhawk is free for everyone (Federal filing). State filing for $14.99 (can apply coupon of 25% off with code TAXHAWK25). Or if you are new this year, I think they are doing both Fed and State for first time customers. They imported all my info from last year for free. I switched from TaxAct and have been happy.

I also did a trial run of CreditKarma's tax offering and was not impressed. Poor documentation and wording in some places. I could tell there was an error on one line, but couldn't change it directly. It was linked to some other input line/screen and took a long time to find and fix.

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Paper forms are still free, except for the stamp to mail them in. Am I the only holdout as far as online tax prep?

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income up to, iirc, $120K individual and twice that for married couples, available through AARP program.  At least in CA, no age limit although they 'Target' over those over 50.

http://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide/

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FutureDilemma said:   Besides, if there were an official tax prep software from the IRS to prepare your return, would you trust it to always get you the maximum refund that you can get legally, especially if you had a high income?
  Since it's all rather basic math, then yes. 

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clangle said:   Paper forms are still free, except for the stamp to mail them in. Am I the only holdout as far as online tax prep?
  Nope.  Only last year I did use the free fillable forms to file electronically, after filling out a paper form to map out the numbers.

Of course, the online forms round off numbers to the even dollar.  So I received a notice of adjustment, because what the form said I had paid didnt match what I'd actually paid.

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