IRS SIGNS NEW FREE FILE AGREEMENT

08 January 2020

The IRS has signed a new agreement with Free File, Inc., which provides some additional consumer protections and also removes IRS’s previous pledge not to create its own tax preparation software.

Background. FFI is a group of private-sector tax preparation companies (Free File partners) that have entered into an agreement with the IRS to provide free commercial online tax preparation and electronic filing to certain U.S. taxpayers (IRS Free File software). (IRS.gov)

The Free File partners, acting through FFI, offer their software free to eligible taxpayers through the IRS’s website, (IRS.gov). (This software usually includes a taxpayer “interview” process that guides taxpayers through preparing their returns.) Generally, taxpayers with income of $69,000 or less can find one or more IRS Free File software products by visiting IRS.gov/freefile. (IRS.gov)

Free File also offers Free File Fillable Forms, which are online versions of the IRS’s printed forms. Free File Fillable Forms are best for taxpayers who are experienced in preparing returns by hand and who need limited assistance to complete and file their returns online. Free File Fillable Forms is available to taxpayers regardless of income. (IRS.gov)

New agreement. The IRS’s new agreement with FFI includes several features designed to make the Free File program more taxpayer friendly. Some of these features are:

  • FFI members will not exclude their Free File Landing pages from organic internet searches.

Note: A landing page is a standalone web page, where a visitor “lands” after they click on a link in an email, an advertisement or on another web page. Organic search is a method for entering one or several search terms as a single string of text into a search engine. Organic search results appear as paginated lists, are based on relevance to the search terms, and exclude advertisements unlike non-organic search results, which do not filter out pay per click advertising.

  • FFI members will include a link on their sites to return a taxpayer to the IRS Free File Website at the earliest feasible point in the preparation process when the taxpayer does not qualify for the partner’s Free File offer, and
  • FFI members will regularly survey taxpayers who successfully e-filed a tax return through the Free File program, reporting their results quarterly to the IRS.

The new agreement also removes the IRS’s previous pledge not to create its own tax return preparation and e-file software.