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Finance Forward Blog

What We Know About the New IRS Direct File Program So Far

2024 IRS Direct File Program

The IRS has recently publicized plans to launch the Direct File project for the 2024 tax filing season (meaning the filing of tax year 2023), a groundbreaking pilot program that is expected to provide eligible taxpayers in 13 states with a free, IRS-run option for filing their federal tax returns directly.

What Is Direct File?

Direct File is an innovative solution that enables taxpayers to seamlessly complete their federal tax forms through an interview-style platform on the IRS website or mobile application. The primary objective is to streamline the integration of state tax filing for participating states, which is projected to reduce errors and expedite the processing of tax refunds.

The Potential Advantages of Direct File

Direct File is expected to offer numerous benefits:

  1. Convenience: With Direct File, taxpayers will be able to electronically complete and submit their returns without the need to print any forms.

  2. Speedier Refunds: Electronic returns are processed far more quickly than paper ones, resulting in faster refunds.

  3. Reduced Errors: By eliminating manual data entry, Direct File minimizes the likelihood of errors on tax returns.

  4. Cost Savings: Taxpayers with simple returns who typically incur expenses for tax preparation can bypass these fees with Direct File.

The Potential Drawbacks of Direct File

While Direct File presents compelling advantages, it's important to be aware of potential disadvantages:

  1. Data Security Concerns: Transmitting sensitive tax information online can raise valid concerns about data security and potential fraud risks.

  2. Lack of Expert Assistance: Taxpayers using Direct File will prepare their returns independently, without the guidance of a tax advisor.

  3. Internet Access Hurdles: Taxpayers without reliable internet access may encounter challenges in utilizing the Direct File platform.

Details of the Direct File Pilot in 2024

The IRS is preparing to launch a limited Direct File pilot in 2024, with initial availability in 13 states, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

The pilot will start on a small scale and gradually expand during the 2024 tax season. Eligibility will be limited to taxpayers with straightforward returns, encompassing income sources such as W-2s, interest below $1,500, and tax credits like the EITC and Child Tax Credit.

The IRS will collaborate with select states to facilitate integrated federal/state filing during the pilot. The results of this phase will be instrumental in helping the IRS evaluate the costs, benefits, and challenges before considering a broader rollout.

Additional Filing Options Will Remain Available

It's crucial to note that Direct File will be entirely voluntary and will not replace existing filing options such as paid preparers, commercial software, or Free File. Taxpayers will retain various choices tailored to their individual needs. If you need help with your personal or business taxes, you can book a free consultation call with us at your convenience.

The IRS is dedicated to simplifying the tax filing process with Direct File as a new and innovative option. We'll keep you updated as the pilot program progresses.