The Internal Revenue Service and its private-sector partners have launched the 2017 opening of a free tax software preparation program called Free File, which gives eligible taxpayers a dozen options to e-file their tax return at no cost. Last year in Missouri, nearly 62,000 taxpayers used Free File.
Taxpayers can get a jump now on preparing their returns, and the companies will hold the returns until Jan. 23 when the filing season officially begins.
Anyone whose adjusted gross income in 2016 was $64,000 or less – that’s more than 70% of taxpayers – will be eligible for Free File software. They can use Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms, which will be available for preparing taxes on Jan. 23.
For 2017, active duty military personnel with incomes of $64,000 or less may use any Free File software product of their choice without regard to the criteria.
“You don’t have to be an expert on taxes. Free File software can help walk you through the steps and help you get it right,” says John A. Koskinen, IRS Commissioner.
To make it easier to find the right Free File product, taxpayers should use Free File Software Lookup tool. Taxpayers can just enter some information and let the tool find the products that match their situation.
Tim Hugo, executive director of the Free File Alliance, says, “Tax time can be stressful, but Free File makes step-by-step help accessible to everyone making $64,000 or less.”
By law, the IRS must hold refunds claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit until Feb. 15 because of a change in law that aims to help detect and prevent refund fraud. The move affects about 800,000 Missourians.
According to an IRS spokesman, the Earned Income Tax Credit has been around since Presidents Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. It helps lower-families move up the economic ladder. It can be worth more than $6,000, depending on your income and the number of children you can claim on your return. The Additional Tax Credit is for families who also have children but may not be able to get all of the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Refunds with EITC or ACTC cannot be deposited into accounts until the week of Feb. 27. Learn more at Refund Timing for Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit Filers.
Free File also can help taxpayers with their health care law requirements. Taxpayers must report their health care coverage or their return will not be accepted by the IRS. For each month in 2016, taxpayers and everyone on their return must:
• Report health care coverage, or
• Claim an exemption from coverage or
• Report a shared responsibility payment.
Most people will simply have to check a box to report health care coverage for the entire year.
Free File is available exclusively at IRS.gov/FreeFile. Since 2003, more than 49 million people have used Free File, saving more than $1.4 billion based on a conservative $30 fee estimate.