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IRS Launches Direct File Pilot of Free Filing Tool for Taxpayers in California, 11 Other States

Free, Convenient Online Tax Filing Option Now Available for Eligible Individuals

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced the official launch of its Direct File pilot, inviting eligible taxpayers in 12 states to utilize the new service to file their tax returns directly with the agency online, free of charge. You can check if you are eligible for the service here

The pilot program, which has been undergoing testing over the past few weeks, allowed early users to submit their 2023 federal tax returns directly to the IRS via an online platform at no cost. Thousands of taxpayers have successfully availed of the system, with early reviews indicating positive feedback.

Building on the success of the initial testing phase, the IRS is now moving forward with a full-scale launch of the pilot, opening it up to all eligible taxpayers in the 12 participating states, which collectively represent approximately 19 million taxpayers. Taxpayers can access the Direct File platform at any time to initiate and complete their tax returns before the April filing deadline.

IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel expressed optimism about the expansion of Direct File, stating, “The early results from Direct File have shown 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.”

Direct File offers taxpayers a streamlined way to file their taxes directly with the IRS, particularly for those with simpler tax situations. The platform guides users through the complexities of the tax code, ensuring accurate calculations of refunds or taxes owed. Additionally, users have access to live chat support from IRS customer service representatives.

The pilot is currently available to taxpayers in the following states: Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington State, and Wyoming. After completing their federal returns, taxpayers in states with a state income tax will be directed to a state-sponsored tool to complete their state tax returns.

To be eligible for the pilot, taxpayers must meet specific requirements, including reporting income earned from jobs generating a Form W-2, claiming various tax credits, and having lived in the same state for the entire calendar year of 2023.

For those ineligible for the pilot, the IRS directs them to Free File on IRS.gov, where eligible taxpayers can access free tax preparation and filing software provided by trusted partners of IRS Free File.

The Direct File pilot launched for the 2024 filing season was mandated by the Inflation Reduction Act, which aimed to assess interest in and feasibility of creating a direct e-filing tool for taxpayers. Following an independent study indicating widespread interest in such a system, the IRS developed the Direct File platform in collaboration with experts and technologists from various government agencies, including the U.S. Digital Service and the General Services Administration’s technology office 18F.

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