Paul L. Caron

Thursday, January 31, 2013

IRS's e-file and Free File Open for Business

IRS efileIR-2013-14, IRS Kicks Off 2013 Tax Season:

The IRS today opened the 2013 filing season by announcing a variety of enhanced products and services to help taxpayers prepare and file their tax returns by the April 15 deadline.

New and expanded services for taxpayers this year include a redesigned web site that’s easier to navigate and improved service options, including more video-conferencing assistance sites and additional social media tools. In addition, the IRS has stepped up its enforcement efforts to protect taxpayers from refund fraud and identity theft.

The IRS began accepting and processing most individual tax returns today after updating forms and completing programming and testing of its processing systems to reflect the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) that Congress enacted on Jan. 2. The vast majority of taxpayers can file now, but the IRS is continuing to update its systems for some tax filers. The IRS will begin accepting tax returns from people claiming education credits in mid-February while taxpayers claiming depreciation deductions, energy credits and many business credits will be able to file in late February or early March. A full list of the affected forms is available on

Freefile Press Release, Free File Alliance Partners with IRS to Kickoff 11th Year of Free Online Tax Services:

The Free File Alliance, a nonprofit coalition of industry-leading tax software companies partnered with the IRS, today announced the launch of the 2013 Free File program. Since its inception in 2003, Free File has offered free online commercial tax preparation software for 70% of taxpayers. This year, taxpayers with a 2012 Adjusted Gross Income of $57,000 or less – about 100 million Americans – may visit to prepare, complete and e-file their federal tax returns at no cost.

In addition to offering comprehensive tax services for 70% of taxpayers, Free File also offers basic federal e-filing services with no income limitations. This basic e-filing service, called Free File Fillable Forms, allows taxpayers who are familiar with tax law and need no preparation assistance to complete and file their federal income tax electronically. There are no income limitations to use Free File Fillable Forms.

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No one actually files an electronic return directly with IRS. They transmit personal and confidential data to private-enterprise software vendors, who then transmit it to IRS. Of course this is completely safe and protected. Just ask the New York Times, which reported this morning that the Chinese Army had invaded its website and compromised the email accounts of all of its employees.

FreeFile is a moneymaker for participants, with whom IRS made a deal to avoid providing the public with its own software. The federal return is free. The state return -- notice how no one reports how much they charge for those? Of course, not a problem in Wyoming, South Dakota and a few other states.

Posted by: Bob | Jan 31, 2013 7:43:02 AM