Texas residents who still need to file their taxes may be able to use Direct File, a free program launched by the Internal Revenue Service on March 12. The IRS is currently piloting the program in 12 states for people whose taxes are relatively simple.

Tax-filing season began Jan. 29, and tax returns are due April 15. Most Texans will only need to file federal tax returns, as the state does not collect an income tax.

What you need to know

Around 3.8 million Texans will qualify to use Direct File, according to an IRS news release. The free tool is available in English and Spanish.

The average American spends about 13 hours and $270 completing their taxes each year, Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told reporters.

“I'll be the first to admit that tax season is hardly a time that Texans look forward to,” U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, said. “But this year, they can experience it with a great deal less difficulty, less time, less cost—and for those who are eligible, quicker refunds.”

This is the first time taxpayers can file directly with the IRS. The program is funded by the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act.

Zooming in

Texans with simple W-2 or 1099 forms who want to take a standard deduction are likely eligible, according to the IRS. You may also qualify to participate in the Direct File program if:
  • You lived in Texas for all of 2023 and did not earn income in other states.
  • You are reporting income from an employer (Form W-2), unemployment compensation (Form 1099-G) or Social Security benefits (Form SSA-1099).
  • You want to take a standard deduction, educator expense deduction or student loan interest deduction.
  • You want to claim the Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit or Credit for Other Dependents.
“Too often, the time and cost involved mean that 1 in 5 eligible Texas households don't claim some of the tax credits that they're entitled to and actually leave money on the table,” Doggett said.

Need help?

Texans using the Direct File program can get live support from IRS staff 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Austin, Dallas and Arlington residents who make less than $60,000 annually can also visit Foundation Communities for free assistance preparing their tax returns. The nonprofit’s IRS-certified volunteers helped over 11,000 Central Texas families complete their tax returns in 2023, Doggett said.