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Direct File officially opens in 12 pilot states following positive early reviews; eligible taxpayers

Direct File officially opens in 12 pilot states following positive early reviews; eligible taxpayers

March 27, 2024

Direct File officially opens in 12 pilot states following positive early reviews; eligible taxpayers can file online directly with the IRS for free.

Taxpayers encouraged to try innovative new option before April 15 deadline

IR-2024-68, March 12, 2024

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service announced today the full-scale launch of the innovative Direct File pilot and encouraged eligible taxpayers in 12 states to try the new service to file their tax returns online for free directly with the IRS.

The pilot effort has been in testing mode for several weeks, allowing early users to file their 2023 federal tax returns online for free and directly with the IRS. Thousands of taxpayers have successfully used the system, and early users are giving the new option positive reviews.

Following the initial Direct File success, the IRS is moving the pilot out of the test phase, allowing all eligible taxpayers in the 12 states – representing 19 million taxpayers – to use the system at any time. Taxpayers can log in to Direct File to start their return and complete it any time before the April filing deadline.

“The early results from Direct File have shown taxpayers like the ease and convenience of the tool, and moving into the full-scale launch of the pilot will give more taxpayers the chance to use this free option,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “Expanding Direct File as the tax deadline approaches will provide more taxpayers a way to file directly with the IRS for free, and it will give us more valuable information to assess this pilot. For those who haven’t filed their taxes in these 12 states, we encourage them to visit IRS.gov and see if Direct File is the right option for them.”

Direct File is one of many options that taxpayers have to file their taxes, including tax software and tax professionals. For the pilot, the IRS worked on a streamlined way for people with simpler tax situations to file directly with the agency.

“A team of experts from across government built and tested the Direct File pilot to give taxpayers an easy, accurate free way to file their taxes online directly with the IRS,” Werfel added. “Our goal with the Direct File pilot is to help people meet their tax obligations as easily and quickly as possible. We developed Direct File from the beginning with taxpayers’ help, and we’ll continue to talk to taxpayers about their experience to learn more about what taxpayers want for future digital services.”

Direct File walks the taxpayer through the complexities of the nation’s tax code to complete their filing easily with an accurate calculation of their refund or tax owed. Direct File is designed to be easy for taxpayers to use. At every step, it shows the work behind the calculations, so users can be confident that the tax return is complete and accurate. Once taxpayers start their return on the Direct File site, they can pause and then securely sign in to finish any time before the April filing deadline.

Users can also get support from special IRS customer service representatives through Direct File’s live chat feature. Direct File, like other electronic filing options, allows taxpayers to typically get their refund in less than 21 days when the direct deposit is chosen.

“We’ve gotten great initial feedback from the thousands of taxpayers who used it during testing,” Werfel said. “Many taxpayers we’ve heard from filed their taxes in less than 30 minutes using Direct File and praised it as an easy, no cost tax filing experience.”

Who’s eligible?

Taxpayers in 12 pilot states who meet certain requirements can use Direct File through the April tax deadline. Pilot states include:

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

After completing their federal returns, taxpayers in the states with a state-income tax – Arizona, California, Massachusetts and New York -- will be guided to a state-sponsored tool to complete their state tax return.

The IRS designed the pilot to follow the best practices for launching a new technology platform by starting small, making sure it works and then building from there. The pilot is purposefully limited to cover relatively straightforward tax situations.

The Direct File pilot is an option for taxpayers who fall into these categories:

  • Report income earned from jobs that generate a Form W-2; including taxpayers with more than one job with W-2 wages;
  • Claim Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and the Credit for Other Dependents;
  • Claim the standard deduction and deductions for educator expenses and student loan interest;
  • Lived in the same state for the entire calendar year 2023.

Interested taxpayers can go to directfile.irs.gov, where they can determine if they are eligible. Using Direct File requires identity verification through ID.me. Once their identity is verified and they’ve signed in securely to Direct File, they will be providing the tax information directly to the IRS, not a third party.

For taxpayers who visit Direct File but aren’t eligible for the pilot, they will be directed to Free File on IRS.gov. Now in its 22nd filing season, taxpayers across the nation can access free software products provided by IRS Free File trusted partners. Through this public-private partnership, tax preparation and filing software providers make their online products available to eligible taxpayers. Eight private-sector Free File partners provide online guided tax software products this year to any taxpayer with an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $79,000 or less in 2023. Free access to online products is available by starting from IRS Free File.

Direct File pilot for filing season 2024

The IRS launched the Direct File pilot for the 2024 filing season. The Inflation Reduction Act mandated that the IRS study interest in and feasibility of creating a direct e-filing tool taxpayers could use to prepare and file their federal income tax return. The IRS commissioned an independent study, which indicated broad interest in such a system, which the IRS detailed in a Direct File Report to Congress in May 2023.

Shortly after that report, as directed by the Treasury Department, the IRS assembled a team of tax experts, technologists, engineers and strategists from across government to build the Direct File system. The IRS worked closely with the U.S. Digital Service and the General Services Administration’s technology office 18F to build and test Direct File.

Initial testing began in early February 2024 with a handful of federal and state government employees, followed by short open availability windows for more taxpayers to start their returns. On March 4, the IRS announced that Direct File would enter final testing, which included an allotment of available spaces with more spaces added every day. Direct File is now open to all eligible taxpayers in pilot states to decide if it is the right option for them to file their 2023 federal tax return online for free, directly with IRS.