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IRS tax alert: The 2023 tax deadline is extended for most California taxpayers

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When are your taxes due? If you live in California, you might qualify for an extension. The IRS is offering California taxpayers more time to file their taxes after the state was hit with a period of severe weather in January. While Tuesday, April 18, 2023, is the tax filing deadline for most Americans, the IRS is offering California residents in designated areas extra time to file.

But exactly how long do these California residents have to file? And how can you tell if you qualify for an extension from the IRS? Find out below.

Top products in this article:

Start your taxes for free: TurboTax Free Edition

(TurboTax Free is for simple tax returns only, not all taxpayers qualify.)

Get TurboTax at Amazon: TurboTax Deluxe 2022 tax software (includes State), $56 (reduced from $70)

What is the new tax deadline for California storm victims?

On Jan. 11, 2023, the IRS announced that California storm victims now have until May 15, 2023, to file various federal individual and business tax returns and make tax payments. The IRS is offering the extension to people in areas designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Included areas cover the most populous parts of the state, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento and San Francisco counties.

Think you might qualify for this special extension? Click here to see the full list.

According to the IRS, the tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting Jan. 8, 2023. Those affected have until May 15, 2023, to file returns and pay any taxes that were originally due during this period. This includes 2022 individual income tax returns due on April 18, as well as various 2022 business returns normally due on March 15 and April 18. Eligible taxpayers will also have until May 15, 2023 to make 2022 contributions to their IRAs and health savings accounts.

When should California taxpayers file their taxes in 2023?

The IRS has begun accepting returns for the 2023 tax season. Even if you're still waiting on documentation, you can still start your taxes now. The sooner you file, the sooner you get your 2023 tax refund.

How you can request a tax extension in 2023

According to the IRS, anyone can request an extension of time to file, not just California residents.

To receive an automatic 6-month extension of time to file your return, you must file Form 4868. An extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. You may be subject to a late payment penalty on any tax not paid by the original due date of your return.

Many tax programs, such as TurboTax, can submit an extension request for you.

How to e-file your taxes in 2023

When it comes to e-filing, also known as online filing, there seem to be as many options to get the job done as there are forms to fill out. Which online filing option is right for you may depend on your income, your budget, the complexity of your return -- and perhaps your patience for filling out forms. 

We found the best online tax filing options, including IRS Free File and TurboTax, that should work for just about every and any kind of taxpayer. 

Looking for some motivation to get started? The earlier you file your taxes, the earlier you'll get your tax refund. The IRS started accepting 2022 tax returns for individual filers on Jan. 23, 2023.


Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Intuit's TurboTax is the giant in the tax-prep space, scoring 73 percent of sales in the 2021 tax season, per the data analytics outfit Bloomberg Second Measure. Its services are basically divided into two areas: do-it-yourself online taxes and tax-pro-assisted online taxes. 

TurboTax Free Edition

This free version of TurboTax is a great option for taxpayers whose income is largely from W-2s and savings in the bank. The tax software includes a free filing of your simple federal and state tax returns. According to TurboTax, the Free Edition covers W-2 income, Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC) and child tax credits, plus your standard deductions, student loan interest deductions and limited interest and dividend reporting (1099-INT, 1099-DIV).

It's worth noting that TurboTax Free Edition can not handle 1099-G unemployment income or itemized deductions.

Users get anytime assistance from TurboTax's online community of TurboTax specialists. Worried about something going wrong? TurboTax Free Edition includes guidance in case of an audit, backed by TurboTax's audit support guarantee. (Not all taxpayers qualify for TurboTax Free Edition, see the TurboTax site for details.)

TurboTax Free Edition

TurboTax Deluxe

TurboTax Deluxe includes all the features of TurboTax Free Edition, plus a few extras. It's a good option for homeowners. This TurboTax version offers homeowners step-by-step guidance on how to turn their home investment into a major tax break. (If you're hoping to deduct the interest you paid on your mortgage, you'll want to go with TurboTax Deluxe.)

TurboTax Deluxe includes a search of more than 350 tax deductions and credits to find all qualifying tax breaks. And should an unexpected form arrive late, this software lets you make changes to your 2021 tax return, online, up to three years after it's been filed and accepted by the IRS.

TurboTax Deluxe includes one-on-one support from live TurboTax product specialists. 

TurboTax Deluxe $39 (regularly $59)

TurboTax Deluxe can be upgraded to TurboTax Live Deluxe. The upgrades gives customers access to unlimited tax advice and an expert final review.

TurboTax Live Deluxe, $89 (regularly $129)

TurboTax Premier

TurboTax Premier has all the features of TurboTax Deluxe, but is also great for taxpayers with investment incomes, such as stock, cryptocurrency, bonds, ESPPs, robo-investing and income from rental properties.  If you've been buying and selling on Robinhood or Coinbase -- especially selling, which is a taxable event -- TurboTax Premier is likely the version for you. It makes reporting these transactions easy, even there are a lot of them -- the software can import thousands of transactions directly from brokers.

Similarly, if you own your house and are renting a spare room to a friend or family member, this version will help you report the income and locate common deductions that can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Like all TurboTax software, Premier aims to give customers the biggest tax break possible. TurboTax Premier searches for more than 450 tax deductions and credits to find qualifying tax breaks.

TurboTax Premier, $69 (regularly $89)

TurboTax Premier can be upgraded to TurboTax Live Premier. The upgrades gives customers access to unlimited tax advice and an expert final review.

TurboTax Live Premier, $139 (regularly $179)

TurboTax Self-Employed

TurboTax Self-Employed includes all of the features of the other TurboTax versions as well as some important extras for taxpayers who work for themselves. If you've got a freelance job or Doordash delivery side hustle, for example, this is the TurboTax version for you.

Ideal for 1099-NEC incomes, this TurboTax version helps you complete all relevant self-employment tax forms and will also let you know if a Schedule SE or "Self-Employment Tax" is required by the IRS.

This version of the tax software looks through your transactions for industry-specific deductions, including real estate, ride shares, delivery driving, online retail and personal or professional services. If your business has employees, this tax software allows you to prep and print unlimited W-2 and 1099 forms.

TurboTax Self-Employed, $89 (regularly $119)

TurboTax Self-Employed can be upgraded to TurboTax Live Self-Employed. The upgrades gives customers access to unlimited tax advice and an expert final review.

TurboTax Live Self-Employed, $169 (regularly $209)

H&R Block

H&R Block
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H&R Block offers four online filing options. They're called "Free Online," "Deluxe," "Premium" and "Self-Employed." Many of these options are on sale now.

"Free Online," which is billed at $0, is for those with super-simple returns, such as W-2 income only. Unlike TurboTax, H&R Block's no-charge tier works for people with unemployment income, too. The H&R Block site says the cost of a state return at this level is likewise $0.

For those with itemized deductions, a Health Savings Account (HSA) and/or real-estate deductions, H&R Block customers will want to look at the "Deluxe" level and above. Live tech support is included in the "Deluxe" ($35), "Premium" ($55) and "Self-Employed" ($85) packages. 

Like TurboTax, H&R Block bills all of its pay packages as being "start for free."    

H&R Block, from $0 to $85


TaxAct (screenshot)

After TurboTax and H&R Block, TaxAct is the next-biggest tax-prep software service. Among the big three, TaxAct is the only one currently affiliated with IRS Free File. In addition to providing that service to qualified taxpayers, TaxAct boasts a range of online-filing packages for any and all customers, regardless of income bracket.

Like TurboTax and H&R Block, TaxAct has a free tier (literally named "Free") that covers those with straight-forward returns – W-2 income, unemployment income and the like. A state return at this level usually costs $35 per state filed.

The other TaxAct packages are: "Deluxe" ($25); "Premier" ($35); and "Self Employed" ($65). At each of these levels, a state return, if requested, costs $45 per state filed. 

All four packages, including "Free," come complete with access to over-the-phone tax experts. And, yes, all of TaxAct's premium packages are billed as being "start for free."

TaxAct, from $0 to $65

Free File Fillable Forms 

Free File Fillable Forms (screenshot)

Free File Fillable Forms is a sister service of IRS Free File; it's open to all taxpayers, including those who made more than $73,000 in 2021. Like IRS Free File, it's a completely free online-filing option. 

A seasonal program, Free File Fillable Forms is open every year from roughly mid-January to mid-October. It's an online repository of every and any form you'll need for a federal return. Once you're finished with your work, you may electronically sign the return, and submit it via the site. 

Free File Fillable Forms definitely has its limitations: It doesn't give advice; it doesn't do state returns; it doesn't allow you to do federal returns for anything but the current tax year; it doesn't let you do revisions once you've filed; and, as the IRS cautions, it doesn't do an "extensive" math check on your numbers.  

The site is currently closed but should open again soon for the 2022 tax year.

IRS Free File  

How do you file online taxes for free in 2022? (screenshot)

In 2020, a U.S. watchdog agency found that fewer than three percent of the 104 million U.S. taxpayers who could've filed free online returns through IRS Free File took advantage of the program. Don't leave free services on the table this year. If you're looking to e-file your federal return, then you may want to make IRS Free File your first stop. As CBS News noted, the IRS-backed program is the "only sure way" to file a free federal return. 

This year, IRS Free File is open to all U.S. taxpayers whose 2022 adjusted gross incomes were $73,000 or less. And it doesn't matter if you're reporting unemployment income or capital gains; if you meet the program's income eligibility, then IRS Free File will find you an online service that'll do your tax math, answer so-called "simple" questions and submit your returns -- all for free.

One important note: For the 2023 tax season, eight companies are participating in IRS Free File, including some names you may recognize, such as TaxAct and TaxSlayer.

The easiest way to see what's available to you via IRS Free File is to go to the IRS website. Enter your age, state of residence, adjusted gross income and a couple of other details. The system will show you which of its tax-prep partners are a match for you. Some of the affiliated providers will even do state returns for free. The IRS Free File page is currently closed, but it says to check back later this month to prepare and file your federal taxes for free.

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