Many college students file federal income tax returns on their own for
the first time in college. This can be a little intimidating, but it
doesn't need to be. After all, the federal income tax return is
simpler than the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). And now,
you can file your federal income tax return for free through the IRS's
Free File program.
The IRS's Free File program is a partnership between the IRS and a
group of tax software companies. There are two types of Free File
programs, those offering step-by-step help and those offering free
forms with e-file. Most college students will qualify for both Free
• You can prepare and e-file your federal income tax returns for
free through more than a dozen companies if your adjusted gross income
is $57,000 or less. (Some of the participating companies have lower
income limitations and other requirements, such as age and state of
residence restrictions.) This program is available for some of the
most common federal income tax forms
including IRS Forms 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ, IRS Form 8863 (used to
claim the Hope Scholarship and Lifetime Learning tax credits) and IRS
Form 8917 (used to claim the Tuition and Fees Deduction).
the Free File participants also offer state tax preparation (sometimes
for a small fee).
The IRS provides a
to help you choose a Free File company
Some of the more well-known Free File participants include
H&R Block Free File
(AGI less than or equal to $57,000, age under 51)
TurboTax Freedom Edition
(AGI less than or equal to $31,000 or active military with AGI less
than or equal to $57,000 or qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit).
• There are also Free File fillable forms offered through the
Free File Alliance
. There are no income limitations for this
information on the Free File program can be found on the
IRS Free File web site
There are also a few key IRS Publications of interest to college students.
IRS Publication 17: Your Federal Income Tax
provides a good introduction to federal income tax.
IRS Publication 970: Tax Benefits for Education
provides detailed information on a variety of tax benefits, such as
the Hope Scholarship and Lifetime Learning tax credits and the student
loan interest deduction.