How to file your tax return for free online this year
- Tax Day 2019 is Monday, April 15.
- The IRS has opened up its free tax filing portal, which lists companies where taxpayers who earned less than $66,000 in 2018 can file their federal return for free.
- The IRS will begin accepting tax returns on January 28 and provide refunds to taxpayers, despite the partial government shutdown.
- You can file your taxes once you receive your W-2 form from your employer, which must be filed and postmarked on or before January 31.
Despite one of the longest-running government shutdowns in history, the 2019 tax season will proceed as normal.
If your income was less than $66,000 in 2018, you can file your federal tax return for free; the IRS lists 12 different tax preparers, including H&R Block and TurboTax. Some companies also offer free tax filing for state returns, while others charge a fee.
You can still file for free if you make more than $66,000, but to do so you'll need to use the Free File Fillable Forms, which will be available online January 28. The IRS recommends using those forms only if you have experience preparing tax returns on your own.
Most tax-related documents must be submitted by your employer or other institution by January 31, and the statements must be postmarked by that date as well. That means you should have everything you need by early February.
Once you're ready to file your taxes, the IRS recommends electronically filing and requesting direct deposit for your refund. You'll typically get your tax refund within three weeks, rather than the standard six weeks, and it's safer than getting a check in the mail.
Experts say you should file ASAP, despite the government shutdown
Despite earlier reports that refunds would not be paid out in a timely manner due to the government shutdown, the IRS said in a press release this week that processes would continue as normal.
"We are committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive their refunds notwithstanding the government shutdown. I appreciate the hard work of the employees and their commitment to the taxpayers during this period," IRS Commissioner Chuck Retti said.
Experts say taxpayers shouldn't wait for the dust to settle should the government shutdown continue - file ASAP.
"File early as you normally would and at least secure a place in line for when refunds will be issued. Don't wait until things get back to normal," Ed Slott, a certified public accountant who founded IRAHelp.com, told Business Insider.
Mike Savage, a CPA and the CEO of 1-800Accountant, had similar advice.
"It is still the best practice to file as soon as they can, but if they plan on receiving the refund at a specific time for budgeting purposes, they will need to plan further ahead in case the refund does not come through in time," Savage told Business Insider.