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Tax E-Filing

Published: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 11:30 a.m. CDT

Q:  What is IRS Free File?

A:  IRS Free File provides free access to private-sector tax preparation software and e-file options to taxpayers who made $57,000, or less, in 2012.  The idea is to help federal taxpayers prepare more accurate tax returns and get the credits and deductions due.  In addition, by using e-file and selecting direct deposit, you can get your refund in as few as 10 days.  About 100 million Americans, or 70 percent of taxpayers, are eligible for IRS Free File.

Q:  Where do you find this service?

A:  Information is available at www.IRS.gov/freefile.  Each participating tax preparation company sets its own eligibility requirements and not all taxpayers will qualify for all the companies.  It’s important to review the criteria before you choose a Free File company.  To get started, make sure you have your W2s or 1099s plus records for any deductions.  There’s no need to download software, and companies participating in the Free File Alliance are required to use programs designed to protect your privacy.  To e-file your federal tax return, you must verify your identity with your Adjusted Gross Income or your self-selected, five-digit PIN from your 2011 tax return.  If you don’t have this information, you can get it at www.irs.gov by making an “Electronic Filing PIN Request.”

Q:  Does Free File make it possible to get an extension of time?

A:  Many Free File companies offer free electronic extensions beyond the April 15 tax filing deadline.  Still, the burden is on taxpayers to meet the deadline to avoid interest and possible penalties on any tax owed.

Q:  What about tracking your refund?

A:  If you haven’t received your refund in 21 days after the IRS accepted your e-filing of your tax return, go to www.IRS.gov, click on “Refunds” and use the “Where’s My Refund” tool.

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