Annual tax season is almost upon us, and that means the IRS has made its Free File products to make the process a little less stressful.
Taxpayers making less than $58,000 a year -- some 70 percent of filers -- can take advantage of the no-cost filing software provided by a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service and the Free File Alliance, a coalition of tax software companies.
But even as the software becomes available, Free File forms, where a taxpayer can prepare and submit federal tax forms online, will be held until January 31.
As announced by the IRS in December, the government shutdown last fall forced a delay of about two weeks before the official start of tax season.
"The government closure came during the peak period for preparing IRS systems for the 2014 filing season," the IRS said in a statement last month. "Programming, testing and deployment of more than 50 IRS systems is needed to handle processing of nearly 150 million tax returns. Updating these core systems is a complex, year-round process with the majority of the work beginning in the fall of each year."
When taxpayers log on to the IRS Free File site, they will be directed to choose a brand-name filing company where they can prepare and e-file their federal returns. The company will then hold the returns until January 31, when the IRS will begin accepting them.
“There is absolutely no advantage to filing by paper,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “If you want to save money and time, just use Free File to prepare and e-file your federal return at no charge."