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devil duck

PSA: e-file for the rest of us

For several years the IRS has been encouraging people to file electronically rather than on paper, but there were three ways to do it:
(a) if you earn under $56,000/year, you can do it for free on irs.gov;
(b) you can pay one of the IRS-blessed companies in the Free File Alliance to file your tax return for you; or
(c) you can buy software from one of the aforementioned companies, and file it from your home computer.

We don't fall into category (a). Categories (b) and (c) are a government-sponsored monopoly: the for-profit companies that constitute the Free File Alliance did a bunch of lobbying and won themselves exclusive access to this government program, which they could then milk to make a bunch of money from the general populace. I've always refused to participate on principle, and have always filed my taxes on paper.

A few minutes ago I went to http://www.irs.gov to look up a form, and saw a press release dated today saying, in a nutshell, that electronic filing will be available for free for everybody with a computer.


This year, the IRS and its partners are offering a new option, Free File Fillable Tax Forms, which opens up Free File to virtually everyone, even those whose incomes exceed $56,000.

Free File Fillable Tax Forms allows taxpayers to fill out and file their tax forms electronically, just as they would on paper. This option does not include an “interview” process like the other Free File offerings, but it does allow taxpayers to enter their tax data, perform basic math calculations, sign electronically, print their returns for recordkeeping and e-file their returns. This “self-service” option may be right for those who are comfortable with the tax law, know what forms they want to use or don’t need assistance to complete their returns.


There's still a niche for the software companies: their software does more hand-holding, which IMHO is a legitimate added value. But if you don't want that hand-holding, you're no longer required to pay for it.

The Fillable Tax Forms apparently aren't available until Jan. 16, so don't rush out and try to download them yet.

Comments

That's 'cause the 16th is the first day you can sub,it returns...if you mailed yours in early, it just sits in the Inbox of Death.

I know, I've been waiting a week now...
This is great to hear...

I've been using http://www.taxact.com/ for free for years, now, but the local and state filings always cost something in that case, I think...still, all things considered, it sure beat the time H&R Block cost me over $300...
Nifty--you beat the local newscasters, they've said nothing.
Of course they are running a lot of ads from TurboTax these days...