Good Morning Gentle Readers,
Yes, I've lost my mind, so pretend you didn't hear me talk about this.
At one time IRS planned to offer free online tax prep and e-filing for everyone. As you might imagine, companies who've invested millions of dollars in the development of tax prep software weren't happy about it.
My guess is that this IRS program represents a compromise that allows IRS to offer some taxpayers free online computerized preparation together with free e-filing but retains some cost recovery and profits for the tax software prep industry. Too bad IRS didn't develop this system ten or fifteen years ago when the online world was in it's infancy.
The net result is a public/private partnership with a dozen or so companies offering online services under the auspices of the IRS. Qualifications to file your return for free vary from company to company, so be sure you read the fine print.
One common denominator is that the freebie is geared toward lower middle income taxpayers. One common catch is that if you want to e-file your state return, it will typically cost you a nominal fee (generally less than picking up a copy of Turbo Tax at Costco).
TWC thinks that taxes are an onerous burden on the populace and that the IRS has the duty to make the process of filing a return as simple and inexpensive as possible. For approximate 60% of you taxpayers this is a big step in the right direction. The rest of you need to send me your stuff.