Want to Make Filing Your Taxes Easier? Find Out If You’re Eligible for IRS Free File

Filing taxes doesn't have to be confusing—or expensive.
Filing taxes doesn't have to be confusing—or expensive.
simpson33/iStock via Getty Images

As many Americans know all too well, tax-filing software programs have sneaky ways of surprising users with hidden fees for their services—often when they’re just about finished with the process. But as many Americans don’t know, there’s a chance they could be using those same services for free.

Since 2003, the IRS has partnered with private software companies to offer low- and middle-income taxpayers the opportunity to file their taxes for free through a program called Free File. Essentially, if you meet specific criteria, you can use programs like TurboTax and H&R Block without paying those pesky fees. Last year, ProPublica investigated some of the companies’ attempts to conceal their free options, which prompted the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration to conduct an audit that found more than 14 million Americans missed out on the opportunity to use Free File in 2019.

All this is to say: You should check to see if you qualify to use Free File before you file your taxes this year. Each program has slightly different qualifications, but if your total income is $69,000 or less, there are probably a few you’re eligible to use for free. As The Balance explains, it’s actually based on your adjusted gross income (AGI), which is your total income minus adjustments like student loan interest, retirement account contributions, and more. Since your AGI is always less than your total income, anyone who makes a total of $69,000 or less is automatically eligible for Free File.

If you answer a few basic personal questions here, the IRS will tell you which (if any) of the 10 participating software programs you can use. Although Free File is mainly to help you file federal taxes, several programs also offer free services for filing your state taxes, too.

If your AGI is above $69,000, you can still file your federal taxes for free, but it’ll be a more manual process—you’ll have to enter all the data into the electronic forms yourself, without a program to walk you through each step and double-check your information.

You can also browse all the programs and their eligibility requirements here.

[h/t The Balance]

Thursday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Guitar Kits, Memory-Foam Pillows, and Smartwatches

As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 3. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

This All-in-One Storage Solution Can Be Used at Home or Carried on the Go


This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Whether you're looking for a durable storage solution for your garage or a roomy pack for a long camping trip, the collapsible RUX carrier can help keep your stuff safe and secure without taking up much room in your closet when you're done. And until December 10, you can support the project on Indiegogo.

The main idea of the RUX is to serve multiple purposes at once. You can carry it around like a backpack or duffle bag during a weekend trip outdoors, or you can use it as a stationary storage bin for your car or home. Despite being strong enough to hold your bulkiest gear, it only weighs around four pounds and is designed to be collapsible, so you can fold it up and slip it away afterwards. (Unfolded, the RUX comes in at 15.7 by 19.5 by 13.8 inches.)

And if you're looking to use it during more serious outdoor adventures, you can rest assured that its weatherproof construction will keep your stuff dry in the rain. There's even a window that allows you to double-check that your items are safe and sound.


The RUX was created with sustainability and longevity in mind. Not only does the RUX have a lifetime warranty, but each component can also come off and be replaced easily so you can continue using the product no matter the problem. RUX is a member of 1% For The Planet, which is a group that gives back 1 percent of sales to environmental causes, even if they are not profitable.

There is still time to back the RUX campaign and reap the rewards. If you back $196, you’ll get your first RUX along with it. However, if you back $265, you’ll get one RUX, two divider totes, an EDC pouch, and two utility straps. If you back $449, you’ll get all the same things from the second level along with an extra RUX. If you want to back $515 or $725, you’ll get double or triple everything, respectively, from the second level.

The RUX campaign ends on December 10, so there is still time to back this product through Indiegogo. Shipments of RUX will hopefully start by June 2021.

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