KIRO NEWSRADIO

IRS is trying a new tactic in 2024, but not everyone qualifies

Jan 23, 2024, 5:14 AM

IRS form. (Getty Images)...

IRS form. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

It’s tax time and Washingtonians will see some changes in how they file this year.

Herb Weisbaum, known as The ConsumerMan, said the IRS changed the income thresholds for the seven different tax brackets and set higher standard deduction amounts.

“The IRS made larger than usual adjustments to the 60 tax code provisions,” Weisbaum said. “This was to account for the effects of higher-than-normal inflation in 2022.”

Weisbaum, who is also a contributing editor for non-profit organization Checkbook.org, said the changes should work in most taxpayers’ favor.

“That will be good for most people,” Weisbaum explained.

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What does this mean for tax filers?

“If you didn’t get a raise to keep up with inflation, you might very well be in a lower tax bracket, which sounds good,” Weisbaum said. “The whole goal of this bracketing is to adjust for inflation.”

The federal agency made adjustments that equate to about 6.5%. “So things like the standard deduction, where the different tax brackets kick in, are quite a bit higher than they were in 2022,” Weisbaum said. “That’s good news for most taxpayers.”

IRS’ new Direct File program

The IRS starts processing returns on Jan. 29, but users can file once they receive their W-2. Weisbaum said the agency is trying something new this year, a free program called Direct File.

“The (pilot program) will be available here in Washington, one of the 12 states where they’re going to try this,” Weisbaum said. “If it works, they may roll it out to a number of other states.”

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The program allows users to bypass third-party tax preparation companies, but not everyone can use it.

“To take part, taxpayers’ incomes must be limited to W-2 wages, Social Security or unemployment benefits, and interest income of $1,500 or less. You must also take the standard deduction,” Weisbaum said. “If it works, the agency may roll it out to a number of other states.”

The IRS said this will benefit taxpayers.

“This is a critical step forward for this innovative effort that will test the feasibility of providing taxpayers a new option to file their returns for free directly with the IRS,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “In this limited pilot for 2024, we’ll be working closely with the states that have agreed to participate in an important test run of the state integration. This will help us gather important information about the future direction of the Direct File program.”

The Direct File pilot, according to the IRS website, offers:

  • Free federal tax return filing
  • Step-by-step guidance
  • Real-time online support from IRS customer service representatives
  • Availability in English and Spanish
  • Online access by smartphone, laptop, tablet or desktop computer

Taxpayers can file their 2023 federal tax return with the Direct File pilot if you live in one of the pilot states (like Washington) and report certain types of income, credits and deductions.

For those interested in finding out more, head here.

You can read more of Micki Gamez’s stories here. Follow Micki on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

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IRS is trying a new tactic in 2024, but not everyone qualifies