Despite the government shutdown, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is gearing up for the 2019 tax filing season. With about two weeks left to go before the official start date, the IRS has announced that IRS Free File, a free online software program available through, is now open for business.

With FreeFile, taxpayers with income below $66,000 in 2018 typically have access to free tax prep software (eligibility may vary). That means that up to 100 million taxpayers, or 70% of filers, are eligible to use Free File. Taxpayers with income above $66,000 have access to fillable, electronic versions of the paper forms.

“Free File is an important tool that allows taxpayers free access to electronic filing of their tax returns,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “The program has been a great partnership with the private sector, and we’ve taken steps to improve Free File this year. With these changes to the Free File program as well as the new tax law, this is a great year for people to consider using this option for preparing their taxes.”

Here’s how it works. Click over to to find the Free File software product that matches your situation. If you’re not sure which partner you want to use, you can use the Free File Software Lookup Tool: Just enter a bit of information such as age, income, and state residency and you’ll be given several software product options from which to choose.

You can also review all of the options without using the tool. Either way, once you select a product, you will be directed to the provider’s website.

You can access Free File from your desktop or by using the IRS2Go mobile app (more on the app here).

While Free File is a public-private partnership with IRS, some Free File partners offer state-return preparation for free, too. That doesn’t affect taxpayers in some states like Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming where there is no state income tax, but taxpayers requiring both federal and state filing options may want to check it out. Some states, like my own state of Pennsylvania, also offer their own Free File option. Check with your state if you’re not sure; you can also find a list on the IRS website here.

As you click through the Free File options, you may notice some modifications to the program. Late last year, the IRS announced that it had reached an agreement with the Free File Alliance, including improvements for the 2019 tax filing season. Changes include clear directions to ensure that taxpayers are offered a free service as a primary option and follow-up emails to taxpayers to serve as reminders to file (you can find out more here).

The 2019 tax filing season is slated to open on January 28, 2019 (more about the filing season here).

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Kelly Erb is a tax attorney, tax writer and podcaster.

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