IR-2024-103: IRS Free File can help those with no filing requirement get overlooked tax credits, refunds; extension requests also available

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IRS Newswire April 10, 2024

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Issue Number:    IR-2024-103

Inside This Issue

IRS Free File can help those with no filing requirement get overlooked tax credits, refunds; extension requests also available 

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service today encouraged low- to moderate-income individuals and families, especially those who don’t normally file a tax return, to use IRS Free File to prepare their federal tax return and get potentially overlooked refunds and tax credits.

For most taxpayers, the deadline to file their personal federal tax return is Monday, April 15, 2024. Taxpayers living in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 17, 2024. The only way to get a refund is to file a tax return.

IRS Free File allows qualified individuals to file electronically and get a refund by direct deposit – all for free. It’s safe, easy and free to file a federal return.

With the April deadline nearing, Free File also provides an easy way to get a tax filing extension. A tax filing extension guarantees the taxpayer six additional months to file – with an extended deadline of Oct. 15, 2024. The IRS Free File program is one of the easiest ways to get an extension.

The program is a public-private partnership between the IRS and several tax preparation software companies who provide their online tax preparation and filing software for free. Through this partnership, tax preparation and filing software providers make their online products available to eligible taxpayers.

Participating partners provide online guided tax software products this year to any taxpayer with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $79,000 or less in 2023. One partner also offers a product in Spanish.

Those with an AGI over $79,000 can use the IRS’s Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms. This product is best for people comfortable using IRS form instructions and publications when preparing their own taxes.

Free File is one of many free options available for taxpayers. The IRS has a special free help page on that provides an easy way of seeing many of the free services and options to help people with their taxes. This includes the Direct File pilot, a free option available to some taxpayers in 12 states who can file directly with the IRS for free.

People who are not required to file should consider filing

Generally, taxpayers with gross income less than $13,850 for single filers, and $27,700 for married filing jointly, are not required to file a federal tax return. However, low-income individuals may mistakenly assume that since they owe no tax, they’re not entitled to a refund. In fact, they may get money back if they file a tax return. For example, if an individual qualifies for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or if their employer withheld taxes from their paycheck, they may be owed a refund when they file their taxes. 

People should consider taking advantage of IRS Free File to claim potential refunds and credits, especially those who are:

  • Low- to moderate-income workers and working families who don’t normally file a return. They may miss out on certain credits for individuals, including the EITC, the Child Tax Credit, the Child & Dependent Credit and the Premium Tax Credit if they don’t file.
  • People experiencing homelessness (the address of a friend, relative or trusted service provider, such as a shelter, drop-in day center or transitional housing program, may be used on the tax return).
  • Students just entering the workforce or who may have only worked part time.  
  • All eligible parents of qualifying children born or welcomed through adoption or foster care in 2023. They may be eligible for the Child Tax Credit.

In order to validate and successfully submit an electronically filed tax return to the IRS, taxpayers will need their AGI from their most recent tax return. If using the same tax preparation software as  last year, this field will auto-populate. However, first-time filers over the age of 16 should enter zero as their AGI.

Don’t have a bank account to direct deposit a refund?

Taxpayers who don’t have a bank account can visit the FDIC website for information on banks that let them open an account online and how to choose the right account. Veterans can use the Veterans Benefits Banking Program for access to financial services at participating banks.

Free tax return preparation for qualifying taxpayers

For those not comfortable doing their own tax return, IRS-trained community volunteers offer free tax help through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs to qualified individuals at thousands of locations nationwide. The IRS website has a special tool for finding the nearest site. Taxpayers can also call 800-906-9887.

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