It’s Not Too Late to Direct File (If You Live in These 12 States)

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Tax season just got a whole lot smoother for eligible taxpayers in 12 states, thanks to the IRS’s new initiative: Direct File. This program allows taxpayers to file their federal taxes directly with the IRS online, at no cost.

Direct File has been in a testing phase for several weeks, receiving positive feedback from early users. Now, it’s available for all eligible taxpayers in 12 pilot states, covering a total of 19 million individuals, just in time for the looming April 15 deadline. Taxpayers in those states can log in to Direct File to start their return and complete it any time before the April filing deadline.

“The early results from Direct File have shown that taxpayers like the ease and convenience of the tool, and moving into the full-scale launch of the pilot will give more taxpayers the chance to use this free option,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “Expanding Direct File as the tax deadline approaches will provide more taxpayers a way to file directly with the IRS for free, and it will give us more valuable information to assess this pilot.”

The Direct File system is particularly tailored for individuals with simpler tax situations, providing step-by-step guidance through the tax code complexities to ensure accurate calculations of refunds or taxes owed.

One of the standout features of Direct File is its flexibility. Taxpayers can start their return at any time and pause it as needed before the deadline. Plus, they can access support from IRS customer service representatives via live chat.

For those who opt for direct deposit, refunds are typically processed in less than 21 days, making it a swift and efficient option for tax filers.

Who’s eligible?


Taxpayers in 12 pilot states who meet certain requirements can use Direct File before April 15. These states include:

  •  Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Washington State
  • Wyoming

Once taxpayers finish filing their federal returns, those residing in states with a state-income tax—such as Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and New York—will be directed to a state-sponsored tool for completing their state tax return.

In developing this pilot program, the IRS has adhered to the best practices for introducing a new technology platform. They’ve taken a cautious approach, starting with a small-scale rollout to ensure functionality before expanding further. The pilot is intentionally focused on addressing relatively simple tax scenarios.

Direct File is an option for people in these categories:

  • Report income earned from jobs that generate a Form W-2; including taxpayers with more than one job with W-2 wages;
  • Claim Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and the Credit for Other Dependents;
  • Claim the standard deduction and deductions for educator expenses and student loan interest;
  •   Lived in the same state for the entire calendar year 2023.

Taxpayers interested in utilizing Direct File can visit directfile.irs.gov to check their eligibility. To ensure security, identity verification is conducted through ID.me. Once verified, taxpayers can securely sign in to Direct File and provide their tax information directly to the IRS, without involving any third-party intermediaries.

For those who visit Direct File but don’t meet the eligibility criteria for the pilot, they’ll be redirected to Free File on IRS.gov. Free File, now in its 22nd filing season, offers eligible taxpayers access to free tax preparation and filing software provided by IRS Free File trusted partners. Through this collaboration between the IRS and private-sector software providers, taxpayers with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $79,000 or less in 2023 can access online guided tax software products from eight different partners. Access to these products is available by initiating the process from IRS Free File.

Conclusion

Tax season is now more manageable than ever for eligible taxpayers in 12 pilot states, thanks to the introduction of Direct File by the IRS. This initiative allows individuals to file their federal taxes directly with the IRS online, free of charge. With positive early reviews and a user-friendly interface, Direct File offers a convenient and efficient option for taxpayers with relatively straightforward tax situations.

For those residing in states with a state-income tax, Direct File seamlessly guides them to complete their state tax return after filing their federal return. The IRS has meticulously followed best practices in launching this new technology platform, ensuring functionality and simplicity for users.

If you’re eligible, don’t wait until the April 15 deadline—take advantage of Direct File now to file your taxes with ease. Check your eligibility and start your tax return at directfile.irs.gov. And even if you’re not eligible for Direct File, IRS Free File offers free tax preparation and filing software for individuals with an Adjusted Gross Income of $79,000 or less in 2023. Make tax season a breeze by exploring these options today. Don’t delay—file your taxes now and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with being tax-ready.

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