By doing a web search for “IRS free file,” people can find out how to prepare and electronically file their federal taxes without being charged.
This year’s free file program is open to people whose income is less than $57,000, which includes 70 percent of taxpayers. More than a dozen tax-preparation companies take part in the program and they all have different eligibility requirements ranging from age to state residency.
The program will not give tax advice, but it will do the math and links people preparing their own taxes to IRS publications.
However, some taxpayers would rather pay to have their taxes done.
“It’s free, but free doesn’t mean effective, especially when I’m not trained,” said Tiffany Griffen.
Whether a person is paying a certified preparer or doing it alone, H&R Block’s Geri Taylor said it is best for people to collect their records.
“Make sure they have all of their W2s, their 1099s and any kind of distributions that they may have received, (which could be) job losses, severance pay and different things like that,” Taylor said.
Also, a new IRE regulation requires all tax preparers to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. They have to use that number when signing returns.
If a tax preparer does not have an identification number, find someone else, experts said.