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Your Financial Life
By Catherine Collinson / Mar 18, 2016

IRS Free File Program Offers Tax Preparation Software to Millions of Americans – and It’s Free!

hands on keyboard

Seventy percent of American tax filers are eligible to take advantage of the Free File program, according to Free File Alliance. This program offers free access to online software to help people prepare their federal income taxes.

The Free File program is available to tax filers with an adjusted gross income of $62,000 or less in 2015. The IRS has partnered with 13 different name-brand software vendors to participate in the program. It is only available at IRS.gov.

If you’re eligible, you can access it in three easy steps

  1. Visit gov/FreeFile. It’s available 24/7
  2. Review the name-brand software partners to identify which is best for you. It’s important to review your options because each software vendor sets its own eligibility criteria, generally based on income, age, state residency, eligibility for Earned Income Tax Credit and military service. To help make the selection process easier, the IRS has a “help me find software” tool available that asks a few short questions about you – and then gives you suggestions regarding which would work best.
  3. Once you’ve chosen your software, click on your choice and, when directed, click on the “Leave IRS Site” button to be directed to the software partner’s website to begin your return safely and securely.

State Filings

The IRS Free File program is for filing federal income taxes. Most of the software partners also have the capability to prepare your state income tax returns – but some may charge a fee while others are free.

Options for Higher Earners
For people earning more than $62,000 in 2015, the IRS makes available a free forms-based tool called Free File Fillable Forms which enables you to select your income tax forms, enter your tax information, print and e-file your federal tax return. The big HOWEVER:  if you’re not comfortable completing a paper return by hand, without software to guide you, you might want to consider another method of filing your tax return. The program only performs the most basic of calculations and doesn’t have extensive error checking. Also, state tax preparation is not part of the program. Other restrictions also apply.


Transamerica and its agents and representatives do not provide tax or legal advice. This material is for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice concerning your situation, please consult your attorney or professional tax advisor.

Catherine Collinson serves as president of Transamerica Institute® and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies®, and is a retirement and market trends expert and champion for Americans who are at risk of not achieving a financially secure retirement. Catherine oversees all research, publications and outreach initiatives, including the Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey. She also serves as the executive director of Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement.

Transamerica Institute® is a nonprofit, private foundation dedicated to identifying, researching and educating the public about retirement, health coverage, and other relevant financial issues facing Americans today. Transamerica Institute comprises two divisions: Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® and Transamerica Center for Health Studies®. Transamerica Institute is funded by contributions from Transamerica Life Insurance Company and its affiliates and may receive funds from unaffiliated third parties. For more information about the Institute, please refer to www.transamericainstitute.org