The IRS free software: even if you could you can’t

The IRS is offering free tax filing software to a limited number of states as a test. But even before that, it’s offered to only government employees in those states, so “soft rollout.” And if everything goes well, it’ll be offered to those state’s residents … with some important caveats:

( * Arizona * California * Florida * Massachusetts * Nevada * New Hampshire * New York * South Dakota * Tennessee * Texas * Washington * Wyoming)

For instance,

Direct File does the job for the [most basic of basic tax returns] and mostly uses plain language, with links to IRS details. It could be useful for a recent graduate working a first job in New York or for Florida retirees living mainly on Social Security benefits. And it has the potential to scale up to include more complex returns if this year’s pilot program goes well.

But most taxpayers can’t use Direct File this year. Say you have gig income or take retirement account distributions or live in Illinois or Oregon (or most other states). Say you have even one dollar of dividend or capital gains income, or you obtained health insurance through the Obamacare marketplace. That is all too complicated for tax year 2023 returns.

So, like they say in baseball, “Wait ‘til next year.”