Free file open ahead of filing season

ATLANTA — To help people get a jump on their taxes before the Jan. 31 filing season opens, the IRS has announced the immediate availability of Free File brand-name software for most taxpayers.

Fourteen commercial software companies that provide their Free File tax prep products at no cost have begun offering their products, available at IRS.gov/freefile.

IRS officials said that although taxpayers can complete and e-file their tax return now, the Free File companies will hold it until Jan. 31 when the IRS begins accepting returns.

IRS spokesman Mark Green said the agency delayed the filing season due to critical system testing following the federal government closure.

“In Georgia, we expect 3.8 million returns to be filed electronically, in which 70 percent of Georgia tax filers are eligible to use Free File,” said Green.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said there is absolutely no advantage to filing by paper.

“If you want to save money and time, just use Free File to prepare and e-file your federal return at no charge,” said Koshinen. “If you plan to get a headstart on your taxes, remember to e-file. Electronic filing will allow software companies to hold your return and to automatically send it to the IRS on Jan. 31.”

IRS.gov has a range of information and services to help taxpayers prepare their tax returns.

Koskinen said additional services include “Where’s My Refund” for timely updates on refunds, YouTube videos with quick tax tips and other ways of getting information.

Free File is a public-private partnership and is the free way to do their federal tax returns either by using brand-name software or online fillable forms. Free File software is available now to more than 100 million individuals and families that earn $58,000 or less, which is 70 percent of taxpayers.

Free File Fillable Forms will be available Jan. 31 to accept tax returns for free e-filing from any taxpayer who is comfortable preparing their own tax return.

Nearly 40 million taxpayers have used Free File since it debuted in 2003. These taxpayers have saved more than an estimated $1.2 billion by using Free File. Learn more at freefile.irs.gov/partners.