During the 2021 tax season, several tweets went viral claiming tax preparation companies hid free services, making it so people pay for services that could have been free.
Now that the 2022 tax season has begun, people are once again interested in finding ways to file their taxes for free. “Free tax filing 2022” was the top Google search about taxes during the month of January.
Can you file your taxes for free?
Yes, you can file your taxes for free.
WHAT WE FOUND
On Jan. 14, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced the return of Free File, a program providing taxpayers free online tax preparation software. Free File, the IRS said, is offering eight English programs and two Spanish programs for any person or family who made $73,000 or less in 2021. IRS Free File only guarantees you a free federal tax return, although the IRS says some programs offer free state tax preparation and filing.
According to the Free File Alliance, the program covers about 100 million people — 70% of taxpayers. However, the Treasury Department found only about 2.4% of eligible taxpayers used IRS Free File during the 2019 tax filing season.
Another free tax filing option the IRS offers allows people to fill out online federal tax forms free, equivalent to a paper 1040 form. The agency warns anyone choosing this option, which is also open to individuals and families who earned more than $73,000 in 2021, should know how to prepare their own tax form.
Beyond the IRS, there are other options available to file your taxes for free.
The AARP Foundation provides an in-person service called Tax-Aide that will assist anyone — regardless of income — with filing their taxes for free, although the service is focused on people over 50 who have low to moderate incomes. AARP’s Tax-Aide can help with most but not all tax returns and is available by appointment only in 2022.
While the AARP doesn’t offer free tax filing online, its free online service will provide someone to coach you through filing your taxes yourself.
Cash App Taxes provides a free tax filing service with no income restrictions for both federal and state taxes, but you have to download Cash App and log in to use the service.
Many of the largest paid tax preparation services also offer free tax filing for simple tax returns, separate from the IRS Free File program. TurboTax’s free version covers W-2 income, limited interest or dividend income reported on a 1099 form, standard deduction claims, Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), child tax credits and student loan interest deductions. H&R Block’s free version covers basic W-2 income, EITC, child tax credit, student loan interest deductions and retirement income reports. Neither TurboTax or H&R Block place income restrictions on their free filings.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced on March 29, 2022 that it was taking administrative action against TurboTax for misleading consumers about the availability of its free service. According to the FTC, TurboTax would inform consumers they needed to upgrade to the paid version only after the consumer had entered sensitive personal and financial information. The FTC said two-thirds of all tax filers didn’t qualify for TurboTax's free service.
More from VERIFY: Yes, you’re more likely to get your refund faster if you file 2021 taxes electronically