For most people, it's free to file your taxes. The makers of tax preparation software lobbied to stop the IRS from accepting such tax filings online, as is done in other countries. In return, they promised to operate free filing services themselves. A ProPublica investigation found that it's virtually impossible to find them, let alone use them: TurboTax uses misleading advertising and user interface "dark patterns" to trick users into paying.
Are the house cleaner and the cashier not allowed to prepare and file their taxes for free because of their particular tax situations? No! According to the agreement between the IRS and the companies, anyone who makes less than $66,000 can prepare and file their taxes for free.
So how did we end up with a product that would make us pay? …
It turns out that if you start the process from TurboTax.com, it's impossible to find the truly free version. The company itself admits this.
From what ProPublica describes, getting to the free filing services intended for low-income Americans is extremely difficult. You need to be tech-literate, have the time to dig around looking for them, be sufficiently cynical to avoid going to official websites that only pretend to offer the free services, and confident enough to ignore a barrage of upsells and warnings designed to get you to open your wallet.