The Internal Revenue Service recently announced an agreement (PDF) with Free File, Inc. FFI designed to bring more clarity for taxpayers choosing to use free online software during the 2020 filing season. The agreement reached will help make the Free File program more taxpayer-friendly while strengthening consumer protections in several key areas.
“This updated agreement is part of a larger effort by the IRS to help taxpayers meet their tax obligations,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig in an IRS news release. “It continues to show the partnership we enjoy with the Free File partners and the commitment we both share in helping taxpayers since the program’s creation 18 years ago. The improved process will make Free File stronger and give taxpayers another reason to consider this valuable software option.”
“The IRS and FFI will also continue to work together to identify and explore ways to better help low- to moderate-income taxpayers and to pursue meaningful opportunities to enhance taxpayer awareness and use of the Free File Program beyond the 2020 filing season,” Rettig added in the same news release.
Each year, Free File partners, acting through FFI, offer their software free to eligible taxpayers. Any taxpayer earning $69,000 or less can find one or more free commercial software products available by visiting IRS.gov/freefile. Some providers offer both free federal and free state tax preparation. Active duty military personnel with incomes of $69,000 or less may use a Free File software product of their choice without regard to other criteria, according to the release.
The program also offers Free File Fillable Forms, a fillable version of IRS’ printed forms best suited for taxpayers experienced in preparing returns by hand and who need limited assistance. The Fillable Forms program, which is available to anyone regardless of income, will be available again in the 2020 tax season for people completing their tax year 2019 returns.
Highlights of the new agreement reached on the Free File program include several features designed to make the program more taxpayer-friendly. Among the features in the new agreement, FFI members mentioned in the news release:
- Will not exclude their Free File Landing page from an organic internet search.
- Will ensure a link on their sites is available to return taxpayers to the IRS Free File website at the earliest feasible point in the preparation process if they do not qualify for the Member’s Free File offer, and
- Will regularly survey taxpayers who successfully e-filed a tax return through the Free File program, reporting their results quarterly to the IRS.
“These steps will help further protect taxpayers and make important improvements to the program,” Rettig said via the release. “The IRS is committed to improving the Free File program and providing a great option for taxpayers to consider when preparing their taxes.”