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TAX FILING IN THE US

TAX YEAR 2023

The IRS has a new system for filing federal taxes for free called Direct File. Not everyone is eligible and it is not available in all states. Direct File is available in English and Spanish, works on cellphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. Customer support is from the IRS. It does not support extensions or amending a return. It also does not handle State and City taxes. How does it compare to Free File? Beats me.

If your adjusted gross income for 2023 was under $73,000 and your tax situation is fairly simple, you can use a number of electronic tax filing systems for free. Start at the IRS Free File website which was scheduled to open January 12, 2024. Free File lets you file federal taxes for free; state taxes are another matter. Free File is a partnership between the IRS and some online tax-prep companies. The IRS estimates that almost 70 percent of US taxpapers qualify for Free File. Alternate Link.

SPYING aka MARKETING

US law makes your tax return is secret. But, both TurboTax the online tax prep service from H&R Block want you to give up this privacy. From: Tax preparers can only use your return information to file your taxes, unless you agree otherwise by Shira Ovide in the Washington Post. March 1, 2024. They make it hard and confusing because it is their best interest to sell and use data such as your income, home mortgage, student loan payments, etc. Every year, these companies try to sneak a permission question past you.

IDENTITY THEFT TAX SCAMS

A common scam has bad guys filing "your" taxes before you do and claiming a refund. To prevent this, the IRS offers an Identity Protection PIN. In the early years, the IRS would provide a PIN only to someone who had already suffered an identity theft. Now (June 2023), anyone can proactively request one. Once you are grooved into this IRS system, the IRS will mail you a PIN (postal mail, hard copy) each January. You then include it with your tax return. More here: Get An Identity Protection PIN

SCAMS REGARDING FILING FOR FREE

Many developed countries allow most citizens to file their taxes for free. In the US, this was the stated intent, but the scheme was corrupted. According to Pro Publica, TurboTax tricked customers into paying for tax preparation they could have gotten for free. TurboTax even has a service with the word "free" in it - that is/was not free. US taxpayers owe a debt to Pro Publica for their reporting on this.

May 4, 2023: States Prepare to Send Checks to Consumers Tricked Into Paying for TurboTax by Paul Kiel of Pro Publica. Quoting: "A year after a $141 million settlement with Intuit, the maker of TurboTax ... 4.4 million customers will receive compensation ... TurboTax for years lured consumers with the promise of 'free' tax filing and then deployed a range of tricks and traps to steer them to paying products."

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