WASHINGTON -- The IRS has plenty of resources to help you file your tax returns for free electronically. You can either use a list of brand-name software provided by the IRS or use the online fillable forms. You can use Free File if you earn $58,000 less or about 70% of taxpayers.
According to the IRS, the Free File Fillable Forms will be available starting on January 31, 2014. Nearly 40 million have used it since it started in 2003.
Here's How It Works (from IRS):
• At IRS.gov/freefile, select the "Free File Software" button. Each of the 14 Free File companies sets specific offers - generally based on income, state residency and age - to use their software. If your income is $58,000 or less, you will find at least one, if not more, offers available to you.
• You can review each of the 14 company offers or use the IRS "Help Me" Find Free File Software" tool to find an offer that matches your situation. Once you make your selection, you will be directed to the commercial provider's website to begin preparing your return.
• Free File is for federal returns but most companies also offer state tax return preparation, some for free.
• If your income was more than $58,000, you can still do your taxes and e-file them. Just select the "Free File Fillable Forms" button. Again, this product will be available starting Jan. 31.
• Free File Fillable Forms is the electronic version of IRS paper forms, and it is best for people used to doing their own taxes. This option helps with math but not with step-by-step assistance. Instructions for filling out the form can be found on the IRS website. State tax return preparation is not available using this option.
The fastest way to get your refund is by combining IRS e-file with direct deposit. Once the IRS begins processing returns, it expects to issue more than 90 percent of refunds in fewer than 21 days.
Check "Where's My Refund?" for personalized refund information based on the processing of your 2013 tax return. You can start checking on the status of your return within 24 hours after the IRS accepts your e-filed return. Updates to refund status are made once a day so you don't need to check the status more than once a day.