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IRS makes Direct File a permanent option

Following a successful filing season pilot and feedback from a variety of partners, the Internal Revenue Service announced that it will make Direct File a permanent option for filing federal tax returns starting in the 2025 tax season.

The agency is exploring ways to expand Direct File to make more taxpayers eligible in the 2025 filing season and beyond by examining options to broaden Direct File’s availability across the nation, including covering more tax situations and inviting all states to partner with Direct File next year. The IRS plans to announce additional details on the 2025 expansion in the coming months. The decision follows a highly successful, limited pilot during the 2024 filing season, where 140,803 taxpayers in 12 states filed their taxes using Direct File. The IRS closely analyzed data collected during the pilot, held numerous meetings with diverse groups of stakeholders and gathered feedback from individual Direct File users, state officials and representatives across the tax landscape. The IRS heard directly from hundreds of organizations across the country, more than a hundred members of Congress and from those interested in using Direct File in the future. The IRS has also heard from a limited number of stakeholders who believe the current free electronic filing options provided by third party vendors are adequate.

The IRS will continue data analysis and stakeholder engagement to identify improvements to Direct File; however, initial post-pilot analysis yielded enough information for the decision to make Direct File a permanent filing option. The IRS noted that an early decision on 2025 was critical for planning and programming both for the IRS and for additional states to join the program. IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel recommended to Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen to make Direct File permanent. He cited overwhelming satisfaction from users and improved ease of tax filing among the reasons for his recommendation, which Secretary Yellen accepted.

“The clear message is that many taxpayers across the nation want the IRS to provide more than one no-cost option for filing electronically,” said Werfel. “So, starting with the 2025 filing season, the IRS will make Direct File a permanent option for filing federal tax returns. Giving taxpayers additional options strengthens the tax filing system. And adding Direct File to the menu of filing options fits squarely into our effort to make taxes as easy as possible for Americans, including saving time and money.”

Building on the success of the limited pilot, the IRS is examining ways to expand eligibility to more taxpayers across the country. For the 2025 filing season, the IRS will work with all states that want to partner with Direct File, and there will be no limit to the number of states that can participate in the coming year. The agency expects several new states will choose to participate. The IRS is also exploring ways to gradually expand the scope of tax situations supported by Direct File. Over the coming years, the agency’s goal is to expand Direct File to support most common tax situations, with a particular focus on those situations that impact working families.

“User experience – both within the product and integration with state tax systems – will continue to be the foundation for Direct File moving forward,” Werfel said. “We will focus, first and foremost, on continuing to get it right. Accuracy and comprehensive tax credit uptake will be paramount concerns to ensure taxpayers file a correct return and get the refund they’re entitled to. And our North Star will be improving the experience of tax filing itself and helping taxpayers meet their obligations as easily and quickly as possible.”

During the agency’s review, many taxpayers told the IRS they want no-cost filing options. Millions of taxpayers who did not live in one of the 12 pilot states visited the Direct File website to learn more about this option or asked live chat assistors to make Direct File available in their state. As a permanent filing option, Direct File will continue to be one option among many from which taxpayers can choose. It is not meant to replace other important options by tax professionals or commercial software providers, who are critical partners with the IRS in delivering a successful tax system for the nation. The IRS also remains committed to the ongoing relationship with Free File Inc., which has served taxpayers for two decades in the joint effort to provide free commercial software.

As the IRS works to expand Direct File, it will also work to strengthen all free filing options for taxpayers, including Free File, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program (TCE).