IRS Direct File and Free Filing - United Ways of California

IRS Direct File and Free Filing

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Read time: 2 minutes

Editor’s note: In May 2024, the IRS announced that Direct File would become permanent and expand to all 50 states. Read what that means for Californians here.

The IRS is working on free filing software to make free filing more accessible to everyone. The result is a pilot program for this tax season, IRS Direct File.

States participating in the pilot are Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

At United Ways of California, we are thrilled to see more free filing resources and that the IRS pilot will be supporting Californians. We fervently believe that tax filing should be free and accessible. People shouldn’t have to spend their hard-earned money toward paid preparers when there are trusted free filing options right at their fingertips.

While the IRS pilot is only available for a portion of filers (those with certain income types who are claiming limited credits and deductions), free state and federal tax filing is still available to everyone in California, regardless of income, at As part of our commitment to bridging financial equity gaps, United Ways of California continues to offer free tax help to meet all Californians where they are at. We have different filing options based on filers’ needs and situation, including location, accessibility needs, native language, and level of support needed.

We believe that the IRS Direct File program will support more people in filing their taxes for free. We also believe the free filing option will work well alongside — not in lieu of — VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), which can continue to provide free tax help to those who have the highest need. For example, people with disabilities, people with language barriers, people with more complex returns, people applying for or renewing an ITIN, or other people who may face barriers or need to file in person will continue to benefit from direct support services like VITA.

It’s important to note that, historically, free filing has faced challenges from paid preparers that have made pilots like the IRS Direct File pilot a challenge to create. We applaud the IRS for working through these challenges and moving toward free filing options for all. More information about the IRS Direct File pilot can be found here.

With about 1 in 3 Californians not making enough money to meet basic needs, funding for programs like VITA and year-round tax outreach and education remains more critical than ever. Policymakers, labor unions, local businesses, and nonprofit, community-based, and faith-based organizations can join the movement to protect and strengthen these powerful anti-poverty tools by signing the CalEITC Coalition Pledge for Prosperity.

At United Ways of California, we will continue to support programs like VITA to provide free tax help for those who need it most as well as support policies and tools that allow all Californians to file their taxes for free.

Learn about how you and members of your community can file taxes for free at

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