Are taxes stressing you out? Try this free alternative to Turbo Tax from the IRS

Are taxes stressing you out? Try this free alternative to Turbo Tax from the IRS
(Image credit: Future)

Tax season approaches like a monster under the bed — you know it's there, but the dread sets in as April creeps closer. This year, the IRS is throwing a tiny life raft in the form of a new Direct File tool. Announced back in October, it's a free online program designed to simplify tax filing with step-by-step guidance.

Hold on to your hats though, because "simplify" has limits. You'll still need to figure out what you owe (thanks, tax code!), but Direct File should make the process smoother and potentially save you money on filing fees. Here's the catch: it's not a magic solution for everyone.

Which states and do you qualify

For now, it's a pilot program limited to residents of 12 states with straightforward tax situations. Think basic W-2s and standard deductions. Some other common things like Social Security income, child tax credit, and student loan interest might be included too. The IRS has a full list of requirements and a tool to check your eligibility.

The lucky states enjoying this pilot program are: 

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Residents in the last four states also need to file state returns, and Direct File will help them with that too. Alaska was supposed to be part of the program, but it seems they got bumped since last year.

Mark Anthony Ramirez

Mark has spent 20 years headlining comedy shows around the country and made appearances on ABC, MTV, Comedy Central, Howard Stern, Food Network, and Sirius XM Radio. He has written about every topic imaginable, from dating, family, politics, social issues, and tech. He wrote his first tech articles for the now-defunct Dads On Tech 10 years ago, and his passion for combining humor and tech has grown under the tutelage of the Laptop Mag team. His penchant for tearing things down and rebuilding them did not make Mark popular at home, however, when he got his hands on the legendary Commodore 64, his passion for all things tech deepened. These days, when he is not filming, editing footage, tinkering with cameras and laptops, or on stage, he can be found at his desk snacking, writing about everything tech, new jokes, or scripts he dreams of filming.