Keep at residence and keep secure with IRS on-line instruments

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The Internal Revenue Service today encouraged taxpayers to take the necessary steps now to file federal tax returns in a timely and accurate manner in 2021.

This is the fourth in a series of reminders designed to help taxpayers prepare for their upcoming tax return. A dedicated page, updated and available on, describes the steps taxpayers can take to simplify tax filing in 2021.

Continued social distancing allows taxpayers to stay at home and be safe with IRS online tools and resources to help them find the information they need. These tools are easy to use and available 24/7. Millions of people use them to find information about their accounts, get answers to tax questions, or file and pay taxes.

Free file

Almost anyone can submit electronically for free. The IRS Free File program, only available through or the IRS2Go app, offers free tax preparation software packages for brands. The software does all the work to find deductions, credits and exceptions. It’s free for those who made $ 72,000 or less in 2020. Some of the Free File packages also offer a free state tax return.

Taxpayers who can conveniently fill out tax forms electronically, regardless of income, can use free-to-fill forms to file their tax returns either by mail or online.

Choosing a preparer

The IRS has several options for finding a tax advisor. One resource is Tax Professional Selection, which has a wealth of information on how to choose a tax professional. The federal tax return preparers directory with credentials and select qualifications can help taxpayers locate preparers in their area who currently have IRS-recognized professional credentials or have a final log for the annual filing program.

Other online help

The interactive tax assistant answers common tax questions, including how to determine if any type of income is taxable or if someone is eligible to claim certain credits and deductions. Given changes in income and other life events for many in 2020, tax credits and deductions can mean more money in a taxpayer’s pocket, and thinking about eligibility can help make tax filing easier for the next year.

Taxpayers can qualify for credits such as the Child Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Credit. Taxpayers whose dependents do not qualify for the CTC may be able to apply for credit for other dependents. Individuals paying for higher education for themselves, a spouse, or dependent may save some money with education tax credits or deductions. Additionally, low- to middle-income taxpayers may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit.

From January 2021, the interactive tax assistant will be updated to provide answers to further tax law questions.

Taxpayers can check the status of their refund using Where’s My Refund? Tool. Status is available within 24 hours of receiving the tax return submitted by email or up to four weeks after sending a paper return. Where is my refund? The tool is updated every 24 hours, usually overnight, so taxpayers only have to check it once a day.

The best and fastest way for taxpayers to get their tax refund is to have it deposited directly into their financial account. Taxpayers who do not have a financial account can visit the FDIC website for information on how to open an account online.

For more information about planning ahead, see Publication 5348, Provide PDF File and Publication 5349, Year-Round Tax Planning for All PDFs.