IRS Free File & How to Get Free Tax Preparation or Free Tax-Filing Help in 2023

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 always cheap, but there are options if you know where to look.

Taxpayers who make below a certain income can access free commercial tax software through the IRS Free File program, a collaboration between the IRS and the Free File Alliance. For those confident enough to file without guidance, the agency also offers free fillable forms that anyone can access, no matter their income level.

On the other side of the aisle, many popular tax software companies also offer a free version of their tax-prep programs. The caveat? The free tiers are typically limited in what they can handle and are usually best suited for those with simple tax returns.

New direct-file options, straight from the IRS, may also be on the horizon. On May 16, 2023, the IRS delivered a report to the Treasury Department confirming that taxpayers were generally interested in a free, agency-run filing system. While a program this massive is unlikely to roll out to the general public anytime soon, the IRS did confirm that a pilot version would be available to select taxpayers as soon as the 2024 tax-filing season.

Here are a few other ways to file your taxes for free in 2023.

» Filed for a tax extension? Don't miss the Oct. 16 deadline.

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. Free File is available via the IRS website Jan. 13 through Oct. 16, 2023.

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.

The 2023 Free File program also includes free state return filing options for more than 20 states, including Arkansas, Arizona, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

And if you can't get a free state return out of IRS Free File, it may also be worth checking your state's department of revenue website to see if it offers a free filing service patterned after the federal one.

Where to get Free File 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

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, older Americans, 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. You can filter by your zip code to see available sites, business hours, dates of operation and more information on how to make an appointment.

  • Federal: $50.95 to $94.95. Free version available for simple tax returns only.

  • State: $39.95 to $54.95.

  • Xpert Assist add-on provides access to tax pro and final review.

Promotion: NerdWallet users get 25% off federal and state filing costs.

  • Federal: $55 to $115. Free version available for simple tax returns only.

  • State: $0 to $49 per state.

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

  • Federal: $69 to $129. Free version available for simple returns only; not all taxpayers qualify.

  • State: $0 to $59 per state.

  • Live Assisted gets you access to a tax pro and a final review.

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  • Federal: $34.95 to $64.95 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.

Promotion: NerdWallet users get 30% off federal filing costs. Use code NERD30.

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

The IRS website lists TCE sites. You can filter by your zip code to see available sites, business hours, dates of operation and more information on how to make an appointment.

5. MilTax

What it is

A Department of Defense program that provides free tax software, 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 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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