The Internal Revenue Service and the Free File Alliance just launched Free File, which makes brand-name tax software products and electronic filing available to most taxpayers in California for free.

Free File software can help taxpayers with tax preparation, including the health-care law that will affect almost everyone. Californians can use Free File software immediately.

Free File is available only at, thanks to a partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, a consortium of 14 leading tax software companies.

“About 70 percent of all federal tax returns from California taxpayers come in below the $60,000 income level,” says IRS Spokesperson Raphael Tulino. “Millions can use it to file a federal income tax return for free.” Last year more than 257,000 Californians used Free File.

Taxpayers who earned $60,000 or less last year are eligible to choose from among 14 software products. For those who earned more, they are still eligible for Free File fillable forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms.

Some companies also offer free state tax return preparation.

Free File also can help taxpayers with the new health-care requirements. Almost everyone will need to do something new when filing a tax return this year. For each month in 2014, you and everyone on your return must report health-care coverage, claim an exemption from coverage or make a shared responsibility payment with your tax return.

Most people will simply have to check a box to report health-care coverage for the entire year.

Free File will be available through October 2015. Taxpayers who cannot meet the April 15 tax deadline also can use Free File to file a six-month extension.