The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 14, 2012

Free online tax option available for those who haven’t yet filed

For those who have not yet filed their income taxes, time is very short.

Tuesday is this year’s deadline to file taxes or request an extension to avoid penalties.

A free option offered by the Internal Revenue Service on its website at irs.gov is Free File.

Michael Devine, IRS spokesman, said there are two versions of Free File: one for those with a combined adjusted gross income below $57,000 and another for those who make more than $57,000. Devine said 70 percent of all taxpayers make less than $57,000.

Video courtesy of IRS.gov

On the IRS website, first click on the Free File icon. From there, click on a link to pick a Free File company. Devine said that will take the person to a list of 15 brand-name tax preparation software services that are the agency’s commercial partners. One must go through the IRS site to take advantage of the free service.

“You’re going to recognize the companies,” Devine said. “You’ll also be able to do your state return with most of these companies. If you think about the time you’re going to save, it’s really a great service.”

The list includes an explanation of what the company provides, like offering state tax-return preparation.

After a company is chosen, one leaves the IRS site and goes to the company’s site.

Federal and state taxes can be filed online through the site, and tax returns can be printed and saved on a computer.

There is no cost, but Devine said the companies may require registration of an email address.

Those who make more than $57,000 also have a free option through Free File, Devine said. Those taxpayers may choose the free forms on the site, which provide basic calculations and the ability to file electronically.

“We’re trying to get the word out,” Devine said. “It’s becoming more popular. It’s just another option to give people to do their returns electronically, which is the most accurate way to do it.”

When filing electronically and getting a refund by direct deposit into a bank account, one can expect to receive the refund quickly, Devine said.

Free preparation

The We Care Coalition is offering free income-tax preparation assistance from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday inside the main entrance to Northpark Mall.

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