How to File Your Taxes for Free in 2023: IRS Free File & Other Free Tax-Filing Resources

Here's where to get free tax software, free tax preparation and free tax help this year.
Tina Orem
Sabrina Parys
By Sabrina Parys and  Tina Orem 
Edited by Chris Hutchison Reviewed by Lei Han

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Tax preparation isn’t cheap, but you can get free tax preparation if you know where to look. The IRS Free File program is a great option for many, but it's not the only way to get free tax filing.

Here are five ways to file your taxes for free.

1. IRS Free File

What it is

IRS Free File is a partnership between the IRS and a nonprofit organization called the Free File Alliance. IRS Free File provides access to free guided tax preparation software from several tax-prep companies, including major brands such as TaxAct and TaxSlayer. Some Free File products are also available in Spanish. Taxpayers can begin accessing Free File options via the IRS website on January 13.

Who is eligible

Generally, you must fall beneath a certain income level to qualify, and the IRS estimates that 70% of all taxpayers are eligible. To qualify for IRS Free File in 2023, taxpayers must have had an adjusted gross income of $73,000 or less in 2022.

If your income is over the limit, IRS Free File also provides everyone with access to free fillable IRS forms that you can submit electronically at no additional cost. This option does not provide much tax guidance.

How it works

For best results, the IRS urges taxpayers to use their Free File Online Lookup Tool to get matched with a provider. The tool will run you through some basic questions about your filing status, age, home address, income and eligibility for certain credits. You can also manually browse through all the Free File offers.

Keep in mind that not all Free File offers include free state returns, so make sure to read through the fine print. However, according to the IRS, several states also have state Free File programs patterned after the federal one. That means you might be able to get free tax preparation for your state return, too. 

Where to get Free File

IRS.gov/freefile or via the IRS2Go app. Even though some providers may advertise themselves as Free File participants on their website, the only way to ensure you’re accessing a Free File offer is to go directly through the IRS first.

2. Direct-from-provider free tax preparation software

What it is

Many major tax software providers offer free tax preparation software for people with really simple tax situations. These packages may be different from what’s available via IRS Free File.

Who is eligible

How each provider defines “simple tax return” will vary. Typically (but not always), these packages work for people who only have income from one job and aren’t itemizing on their tax returns.

How it works

  • Most free packages cover Form 1040 and may help you to claim credits such as the child tax credit or the earned income tax credit.

  • State tax returns are usually also included in these free packages, though some software providers tend to add a fee for that as the tax-filing deadline nears.

Where to get it

Our tax software roundup compares free online tax software from some of the biggest providers such as TurboTax and H&R Block.

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3. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

What it is

A federal grant program that helps community organizations provide free tax preparation to low- and moderate-income individuals, the disabled, the elderly and limited-English speakers.

Who is eligible

Generally, the income limit to qualify for free tax help is $60,000.

How it works

  • Free tax preparation from local, IRS-certified volunteers.

  • This might not work for you if your tax situation is complicated. For example, volunteers won’t prepare Schedule C with losses (sorry, freelancers), complicated Schedule Ds (sorry, investors) or forms associated with nondeductible IRA contributions or determinations of worker status (i.e., whether you’re technically an employee or an independent contractor).

Where to get it

The IRS website lists VITA sites across the country.

  • Federal: $24.95 to $64.95. Free version available for simple tax returns only.

  • State: $39.95 to $44.95.

  • All filers get access to Xpert Assist for free.

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  • Federal: $55 to $110. Free version available for simple tax returns only.

  • State: $0 to $37 per state.

  • Online Assist add-on gets you on-demand tax help.

  • Federal: $59 to $119. Free version available for simple returns only.

  • State: $0 to $54 per state.

  • Live Assisted Basic is free through March 31.

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  • Federal: $19.95 to $49.95 Free version available for simple tax returns only.

  • State: $0 to $39.95 per state.

  • On-demand tax help at Premium and Self-Employed tiers.

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4. Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)

What it is

A federal grant program that helps community organizations provide free tax preparation with a focus on pension- and retirement-related tax issues.

Who is eligible

Although the program was established to give free tax help to people 60 and older, and still prioritizes that demographic, there’s actually no minimum age requirement. Trained volunteers do the tax preparation.

How it works

Similar to VITA, community organizations and nonprofits use grant money to provide free tax preparation. Most TCE sites are operated by the AARP Foundation’s Tax-Aide program.

Where to get it

5. MilTax

What it is

A Department of Defense program that provides free tax software from H&R Block, as well as financial and legal resources and other help to military members and their families.

How it works

In addition to free tax software, trained MilTax consultants can give free tax help by phone and via live chat. MilTax participates in the VITA program, which means you also can get face-to-face free tax help on base or nearby.

Where to get it

Head to Militaryonesource.mil to get the software, find helpline numbers and hours of operation and see if a nearby installation has a VITA site.

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