Tax tip: Take the free route

If you have access to a computer and the Internet you may be eligible to prepare and file your 2008 federal tax return electronically - for free. Free File is an easy way to file your taxes and get your refund in half the time. Filing electronically is fast, accurate and secure.

Free File, a form of e-file, is a free federal tax preparation and electronic filing program for eligible taxpayers developed through a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance. The Alliance is a group of private-sector tax software companies. Since Free File's debut in 2003, a total of more than 24 million returns have been prepared and e-filed through the program.

Free File offers two options. The first, "full service" Free File includes 20 different software options that can assist taxpayers with an Adjusted Gross Income of $56,000 or less in 2008 to e-file their federal tax returns for free. That means 70 percent of all taxpayers can take advantage of tax software that will help them complete their returns through the Free File program. Three companies are offering their products in Spanish.

This year, the IRS and its partners are offering a new option, Free File Fillable Forms, which opens up Free File to virtually everyone, even those whose incomes exceed $56,000.

Free File Fillable Forms allow taxpayers to fill out and file their tax forms electronically, just as they would on paper. This option does not include an "interview" process like the other Free File offerings, but it does allow taxpayers to enter their tax data, perform basic math calculations, sign electronically, print their returns for recordkeeping and e-file their returns. This "self-service" option may be right for those who are comfortable with the tax law, know what forms they want to use or don't need assistance to complete their returns.

Both the fillable-forms option and the previously available "full service" Free File offerings are available only through the Web site. Both new and returning taxpayers must access Free File through Otherwise, the e-file provider may charge them a fee.


Remember that all of the web page addresses for the official IRS website,, begin with Don' t be confused or misled by internet sites that end in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov. The address of the official IRS governmental Web site is