With TurboTax Out, Where Else Can You File Taxes for Free?

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In July 2021, TurboTax announced it would no longer participate in the IRS’ Free File program. That’s big news because the Free File program helps millions of low- and middle-income Americans file their taxes for free every year. And given that TurboTax is one of the biggest names in tax preparation, it goes without saying that many people have relied on the company for free tax prep in the past.

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Hence, one could easily assume that the elimination of TurboTax from the program leaves them with few options for free tax filing this year. But that couldn’t be further from the truth — taxpayers still have plenty of free options. Indeed, you shouldn’t have to pay for tax preparation unless your income is too high or you simply opt for a paid service.

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Who Is Eligible for Free File?

The first thing to know is that not everyone is eligible to use what the IRS calls Guided Tax Preparation. This service allows you to prepare and file your tax return online for free, but there is an income limit for the tax preparation service. For tax year 2021, the adjusted gross income (AGI) limit to use Free File is $73,000, up from $72,000 in tax year 2020.

If your AGI is higher than $73,000, you can still use the free fillable forms on the IRS website. However, you won’t be able to use the Guided Tax Preparation service.

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How To Find a Free File Provider

Even without TurboTax as an option, you still have a slew of options for free filing if your income is below the $73,000 threshold. The IRS actually makes it quite easy to find a Free File option; as of this writing, there are eight different providers that offer services through Free File. Not every provider is available in every state, though, and several have income restrictions that differ from the $73,000 limit.

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That being said, the IRS gives you two ways to find a Free File provider:

  • IRS Free File Online Lookup Tool: The lookup tool presents you with a questionnaire that will help you find eligible providers based on criteria such as your AGI, state of residence, and filing status. The tool is available for anyone to use on the IRS website.
  • Browse all offers: This option lets you see all eight Free File providers as well as who is eligible. The page includes information such as who is eligible based on AGI, state and age. Free File providers include Free1040TaxReturn.com and FreeTaxUSA, plus options from ezTaxReturn and TaxAct. You can see all offers on the IRS website.

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Other Free Tax Preparation Options

We’ve covered the services listed on the IRS website, but those aren’t the only options for free tax prep. As you’ll see here, there are other options for those who aren’t eligible for Free File or simply want some other choices.

IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

The IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is available to those with an income of $58,000 or less for tax year 2021. As is usually the case, the income threshold is subject to change. But there are other ways to qualify that don’t change, including people with disabilities and those who speak limited English.

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IRS Tax Counseling for the Elderly

There is also a free filing program available for older taxpayers called Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE). Currently, the program is available to those ages 60 and over. As the IRS notes, it specializes in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors. Hence, many people will find this program better than using Free File.

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TurboTax’s Free File Change Comes After H&R Block Did It

As mentioned previously, TurboTax used to participate in the IRS Free File program but has opted out as of July 2021. TurboTax isn’t the first or only big name in tax preparation to opt out, though. In October 2020, H&R Block announced it would no longer participate. Given that TurboTax and H&R Block have close to 75 million customers combined, losing both options is significant.

The good news, of course, is that this doesn’t mean Free File is no more. Plenty of free options remain in addition to volunteer services and those available to older taxpayers. In other words, you can likely still file for free unless your income is too high. Be sure to check all of the options mentioned here before forking over the cash for tax preparation.

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About the Author

Bob Haegele is a personal finance writer who specializes in topics such as investing, banking and credit cards. He left his day job in 2019 to pursue his passion for helping people get out of debt and build wealth. You can find his work at outlets such as Business Insider, Forbes Advisor and SoFi.

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