IRS Direct File officially launches, offering free tax filing in these 12 states

A U.S. Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 1040 Individual Income Tax form is on display. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The IRS has officially launched its electronic system for filing tax returns, now available in 12 states.

Direct File is a new 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.

Certain taxpayers in Florida, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wyoming, Arizona, Massachusetts, California and New York can use Direct File.

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But it can only be used to file federal income taxes.  Taxpayers from states that require filing state taxes will need to do so separately.

This new service is designed to be convenient and offer step-by-step guidance of simple questions. 

The IRS started Direct File to create a new government service to possibly replace some taxpayers' use of commercial tax preparation software, like TurboTax. 

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Citing the Treasury Department, the Associated Press notes that roughly 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Washington, D.C.