(Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Whenever the start of a new year kicks in, that means it’s time to start thinking about taxes. It’s only January, but April is just a couple of months away, so it’s the perfect time to get started. Sure, doing taxes isn’t fun, but we all have to do them, so it’s better to get a head start and not be stuck doing them last minute.

This year, things are a bit different, as a new law allows millions of Americans, including many Michigan residents, to qualify for no-cost tax filing services. It’s all part of the Internal Revenue Service’s Free File program.

  • The program

    “Free File is part of a wide selection of services available on IRS.gov to help people file taxes during this challenging period,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement. “IRS Free File offers taxpayers an easy, free way to do their taxes from the safety of their own home. Free File also provides electronic filing with direct deposit, which is the best way to avoid delays and receive refunds quickly and securely.”

  • The scoop

    The site, IRS.gov, is giving Americans an early chance to file their taxes and claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit, the expanded Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

  • Who qualifies?

    Any person or family who earned $73,000 or less in 2021 qualifies for free filing. In total, eight English-language products and two Spanish-language services are available with the plan.

  • Participating providers:

    ezTaxReturn.com (available in Spanish)
    FreeTaxReturn.com INC
    On-Line Taxes at OLT.com
    TaxSlayer (coming soon in Spanish)

  • When does it start

    Tax filing season officially begins Jan. 24, but those who want to get a head start via the IRS Free File may do so, as providers will take completed tax returns and hold them until they are able to be filed electronically. The Free File Fillable Forms will also be available on Jan. 24.

  • Instructions to use IRS Free File:

    Head to IRS.gov/freefile.

    Use the “Choose an IRS Free File Offer” tool to snag the right product, or look over each offer by a provider using the “Browse All” tool.

    Select a product.

    Follow links to the provider’s website. Start the tax return.