IRS Free File opens Friday, Jan. 16, for eligible taxpayers,
four days ahead of Jan. 20 full tax season start
No IRS help for tax pros on Saturdays or holidays in 2015

Free tax preparation, e-filing also available in some states

Today's big tax news is that Free File is now open to qualifying taxpayers.

Free File poster via IRS-Free File AllianceFourteen tax software companies are offering their services to help you prepare and file your 2014 federal tax return at no charge.

They are, in alphabetical order,, 1040NOW, ezTaxReturn,, Free1040TaxReturn, FreeTaxUSA, H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, Liberty Tax Service,, Tax Simple, TaxACT, TaxSlayer, and TurboTax.

Remember, these versions are not the same as the companies' for-sale products, online or on store shelves. They are designed for the Free File program.

You can get an idea of what Free File services they are offering at the 2015 Free File partners overview page.

Many go with the maximum $60,000 adjusted gross income threshold, but some have a lower earnings cut-off. And others apply only to residents of specific states.

So be sure to carefully check each Free File offering and make sure you pick the one that meets both your federal and state tax preparation and filing needs.

Separate state participation: Ah, yes. State taxes. Most states collect personal income taxes.

And most of them follow the federal deadlines. That means that tax returns in most states are due by April 15.

The Internal Revenue Service notes that some of the federal Free File tax software providers include state tax return preparation in their packages, while some charge a fee to fill out and file state forms. Again, pay close attention to what's available -- and at no cost -- before making your Free File choice at the IRS website.

Some states also participate on their own in Free File programs similar to the federal system. According to IRS Free File, the 21 states, and Washington, D.C., that have their own state-specific Free File deals are:

Even if you can't prepare your state return for free, you still are likely to be able to file electronically at no cost through your state's official tax website. Check with your state's tax department for details.

You also might find these items of interest:


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