Tax Commissioner, Mayors Praise Free File Program - An Easy, No Cost Program

10 March 2016

Brand name tax software products made available by IRS, Vermont Free File Programs empower eligible Vermont residents to file their taxes online at no cost

Today, Mary Peterson, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Taxes, along with Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon, St. Albans Mayor Liz Gamache, and other community leaders, urged all eligible Vermont residents to use the IRS and Vermont Free File programs to save money and time during this tax season. According to the Department of Taxes, the majority of returns filed last year would have been eligible for Free File. This year, Free File’s name-brand tax preparation software products can help more Vermonters prepare and securely file their tax return online at no cost. Mayors Lauzon and Gamache and Commissioner Peterson attended a briefing at the Vermont State House to explain how the program can ensure taxpayers receive the largest refund possible this tax season.

The Free File program is a partnership between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and tax preparation software companies that provides millions of people access to brand name software so they can prepare and securely file their taxes at no cost. The software uses a simple interview-style process to help people identify all the credits and deductions for which they are eligible. Each year, tens of thousands of taxpayers receive a smaller refund because they fail to claim all of their eligible credits and deductions. For instance, those who are attending or whose children are attending college are eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which allows them to receive up to $2,500 to cover education expenses ranging from tuition to textbooks.

Vermont is one of 20 states plus the District of Columbia that have formed state Free File programs, enabling eligible taxpayers to file both their federal and state tax return online for free. Since its debut in 2003, over 40 million taxpayers have saved more than $1.3 billion in tax preparation costs through the IRS Free File program.

“Based on federal AGI figures for last year, we believe that the majority of returns could have been filed through one of our Free File vendors, but we saw a relatively small number of eligible returns filed through Free File,” said Commissioner Mary Peterson of the Vermont Department of Taxes. “We want more Vermonters to take advantage of Free File because it not only saves taxpayers time and money, it also provides valued savings to Vermont’s government, with fewer processing costs and errors than paper returns.”

“Everyone in Vermont should get the full amount of their hard-earned refund, which is exactly what the Free File program is designed to do. It’s an incredibly important service for local taxpayers,” said Mayor Lauzon.

“Free File helps eligible taxpayers claim all the credits and deductions for which they are eligible, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Studies show that 20 to 25% of taxpayers eligible for EITC fail to claim it, and it can add, on average, $2,500 to their refund,” added Mayor Gamache.

“We are so thankful to Mayors Lauzon and Gamache and Commissioner Peterson for helping to spread the word to community leaders and Vermont residents about how the Free File Program can mean a larger tax refund and more money saved this tax season,” said Dave Macklin of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), the organization sponsoring today’s event.

CCIA also encouraged those who have used Free File to submit their stories through its website:  www.taxprephelp.org. The website contains helpful information on Free File, including how Free File has helped tens of millions of people save more money during tax season for over a decade. To access Free File, visit www.irs.gov/freefile or tax.vermont.gov/individuals/free-file.

About CCIA: The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) is an international nonprofit membership organization dedicated to innovation and enhancing society's access to information and communications. CCIA promotes open markets, open systems, open networks and full, fair and open competition in the computer, telecommunications and Internet industries.

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