Free E-File Taxes: Learn How to E-File for Free
E-filing and free federal e-file are terms that you might hear around tax season, but it’s only one part of preparing your taxes. To help you understand what the terms e-file and free federal e-file mean, we’ll outline the relevant concepts in this post.
What is e-filing?
Electronic filing, or e-filing, is the process of submitting your completed income tax return to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over the Internet. Compared to sending your paper return through the mail, e-file has the advantage of reducing the processing time, which can help you get your refund more quickly.
You can e-file on your own through a number of online or software programs. Or, a tax preparer might e-file for you as part of their services. However, e-file is not available for everyone. Taxpayers with more complexity may find that e-file is not allowed for their returns.
Advantages of e-filing
There are a number of pros to e-filing, such as:
- The IRS receives your return almost instantly, unlike a mailed paper return.
- E-filed returns contain fewer errors. The IRS doesn’t need to re-enter your tax information in its system.
- If you expect a tax refund, you’ll receive your refund check within three weeks. Your refund will come sooner if you direct deposit your refund into your bank account. If you file a paper return, it usually takes four to eight weeks to receive a refund check.
What is free federal e-file?
Free federal e-file means you can submit your return to the IRS without cost. This is also referred to as IRS free e-file. As mentioned above, the free e-file only covers the transmission to the IRS. This doesn’t necessarily mean the tax return preparation is free. We’ll come back to that in a moment.
H&R Block free e-file options
If you’re using one of H&R Block’s do-it-yourself (DIY) programs for online taxes or tax software, the number of free federal e-file transmissions will vary. For example, if you file with H&R Block Online, you can file one federal return for free. However, if you’re using one of our Tax Software options, you can e-file five federal returns for free. We should note that state e-file costs can vary depending on the option you choose.
Regardless of the DIY option you choose, we’ll walk you through the process of completing your e-file and help you understand what to do if your e-file is rejected for any errors.
Beyond free federal e-file: What about free tax prep?
Before you can take advantage of IRS free e-file, you have to prepare your return. Several commercial brands offer free file options through online tax preparation, but eligibility for the free options can vary.
H&R Block Free Online offers several benefits, including more tax forms for free compared to TurboTax Free Edition.
See how TurboTax Free Edition and H&R Block Free Online tax filing stack up.
And, if you’re wondering how to do taxes at Block, you have many options.
Getting ready to e-file: What are the e-file requirements?
Electronic filing is a convenient way to submit your return to the IRS. However, there are certain times your return cannot be e-filed because it does not meet the e-file requirements. Some of the most common reasons for this are:
- You have a return with a power of attorney in effect that requires the refund to be sent to a third party.
- You have amended or corrected returns (even if the return being amended was originally e-filed). Only one valid return can be e-filed for any taxpayer in a tax year.
- You have a married filing separately return subject to community property rules.
- You have a return in which the filing taxpayer, spouse, or any dependent, regardless of date of birth, doesn’t have a valid Social Security number (SSN). This requirement includes children born in 2022.
- You claim a dependent that somebody already claimed.
- Your return contains IRS forms that aren’t on the accepted forms and schedules list.
What IRS forms cannot be e-filed beyond a certain number?
In certain cases, you will be prevented from e-filing due to the number of forms that you need to file. You will not be able to e-file if you have:
- Eight Schedules C
- Two Schedules C-EZ (one per taxpayer if married filing jointly)
- 15 Schedules E or Schedule E attachments (no more than 45 rental properties)
- Two Schedules H (one per taxpayer if married filing jointly)
- Two Schedules SE (one per taxpayer if married filing jointly)
- 50 Forms W-2
- 30 Forms W-2G
- 20 Forms 1099-R
- 20 Forms 1116
- Four Forms 2106 (two per taxpayer if married filing jointly)
- Two Forms 2555EZ (one per taxpayer if married filing jointly)
- Two Forms 2555 (one per taxpayer if married filing jointly)
- Two Forms 3903
- Two Forms 4137 (one per taxpayer if married filing jointly)
- Four Forms 4835
- Two Forms 4972 (one per taxpayer if married filing jointly)
- Two Forms 5329 (one per taxpayer if married filing jointly)
- Two Forms 8271
- Two Forms 8606 (one per taxpayer if married filing jointly)
- 10 Forms 8814
- Eight Forms 8829 (one for each Schedule C)
If you fall into any of the above situations, you’ll have to file your tax return by mail for this year.
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