An Internal Revenue Service 2023 1040 tax form and instructions...

An Internal Revenue Service 2023 1040 tax form and instructions are shown on Jan. 26, 2024 in New York. It's tax season in the U.S., and for many people, filing tax returns can be a daunting task that's often left until the last minute. Credit: AP/Peter Morgan

NEW YORK — After weeks of testing, an electronic system for filing returns directly to the IRS is now available for taxpayers from 12 selected states.

The new system, called Direct File, is a free online tool. Taxpayers in the selected states who have very simple W-2s and claim a standard deduction may be eligible to use it this tax season to file their federal income taxes. The program will also offer a Spanish version, which will be available starting at 1 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday.

The Treasury Department estimates that one-third of all federal income tax returns filed could be prepared using Direct File and that 19 million taxpayers may be eligible to use the tool this tax season.

“Direct File will offer millions of Americans a free and simple way to file their taxes, with no expensive and unnecessary filing fees and no upselling, putting hundreds of dollars back in the pocket of working families each year, consistent with President Biden’s pledge to lower costs,” said National Economic Advisor Lael Brainard.

Certain taxpayers in Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wyoming, Arizona, Massachusetts, California and New York can participate. Direct File can only be used to file federal income taxes, taxpayers from states that require filing state taxes will need to do so separately.

The Direct File pilot is part of the agency’s effort to build out a new government service that could replace some taxpayers’ use of commercial tax preparation software, such as TurboTax. It’s meant to be simple and provides a step-by-step walkthrough of easy-to-answer questions.

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Hussein reported from Washington, D.C.

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