Yes, You Can File Your Taxes For Free (Under These Conditions)

by Chelsea Stewart
Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Isn't tax season kind of a drag? You've gotta scramble to meet the April 15 filing deadline, track down all sorts of files and documents... Then there's the whole idea of having to pay money to file, which absolutely sucks. While most of those are inevitable, there's a way around the latter. Let's talk about how to file your taxes for free, so you can at least get one good thing out of this process.

For one thing, yes, it is possible — the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has this really amazing option for federal called "Free File," which will help you complete the process using tax preparation and filing software. You can access it through the IRS website, and before you get overwhelmed, know there are some options.

There are two options based on your income: In the first case, you're eligible if you made less than $66,000. This option will take you to a page where you'll fill in basic information to determine the best filing software for you. Questions include things like your age, your adjusted gross income, and whether you're eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. (If you're not sure about the Earned Income Tax Credit, check this out. Thank me later.) When completed, you may be matched with companies like TaxSlayer or H&R Block, and you can move forward from there. Important — you should make sure that you access whatever software you're matched with through the link from the IRS website, to make sure you're accessing the free option.

The second option is for those who made more than $66,000. Though this one won't give you access to filing software, it allows you to file using Free File Fillable Forms, so that's still something, right? The website warns that those who use this option should know how to do basic math, which may sound a little daunting, but it's really not. In fact, there are line-by-line instructions there for you if you need them. Just make sure you have your forms completed and printed out before they're purged on October 20, 2019. You'll know that you completed the process once you receive an email from

And voilà. It's as simple as that.

While you're going through this, keep in mind that the tax deadline is creeping up. This year, Uncle Sam wants your taxes by April 15 and not a second later. Failing to meet the deadline can result in a failure-to-file penalty, which begins at a minimum of 5 percent of what you might owe, up to a 25 percent. And it can get worse. If you still haven't filed your taxes more than 60 days after the April 15 deadline, the charges will either increase to a $135 fee or 100 percent of the taxes you owe, according to Yahoo. So you really want to make sure that you stay on top of things.

But if there's no way you can get this done by April 15, there's something you can do. Grab a Form 4868: Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File, which can be printed off of the IRS' website. This form gives you an extra six months to get your taxes submitted as long as it's postmarked on or before April 15. It's a real lifeline that even I might be using this year because tax season really crept up on me this time.

Then again, the idea of filing for free is suddenly motivating me to get this done. Excuse me for one sec.

Oh, and good luck filing your own!