It's tax season, and this year there are some changes coming to Massachusetts, including a new IRS pilot program that will allow taxpayers to file directly for free without using commercial tax preparation software.

For some tips and tricks for filing and what to do with your refund, GBH’s Morning Edition spoke with Adair Peach, a tax expert and program manager with Rural Dynamics, which is an affiliate of GreenPath Financial Wellness, a national nonprofit that helps people build financial health and resiliency. Here are her top tips.

You may be able to file your federal return directly with the IRS

For years, taxpayers were not able to file their taxes directly to the IRS. They had to use a third-party tax preparer, like TurboTax or H&R Block, which often charges filers to submit their returns.

This year, the IRS is trying something new, Peach said. Residents of 12 states, including Massachusetts and New Hampshire, can file directly with them.

“Instead of going through a third-party preparer, whether that's by yourself or through a paid preparer, the IRS has opened up a way for you to file directly through them,” she said.

There are some restrictions on who is eligible for the pilot program: Filers’ income needs to be below $200,000, or $160,200 for people who had more than one employer last year; and all their income must come through a W-2, from unemployment, Social Security benefits, or less than $1,500 in interest income or U.S. savings bonds or Treasury obligations.

The pilot program also limits the types of deductions filers can claim.

If you meet those requirements, you may be able to file directly with the IRS if you lived and earned your income exclusively in Massachusetts for all of 2023; and if you’ve filed a Massachusetts tax return at least once in the last three years. Filers will need to file their Massachusetts return separately, which they can do directly through the state.

Peach said she hopes to see the program expanded.

“Why can't we just go directly through the IRS? Why do we have to have all these third-party things to go through? The IRS knows what's going on, so why can't we just do it through them?” she said.

She hopes filing directly with the IRS can make taxes less mystifying.

“A lot of people are intimidated by taxes and going through a third party, especially what they have to pay, and there's just a lot of stuff that is put on them to make it confusing, versus if the IRS is hosting it,” she said. “Hopefully it is very straightforward, clean-cut and has clear instructions on how people can file their taxes.”

If you get a refund, spend it wisely

If you get a tax refund, it’s a sign that you’ve overpaid your share to the federal or state government during the year, Peach said.

“It's not just a nice bonus check,” Peach said. “So they should really use that to better their financial situation.”

Some options she suggested: Investing the money or paying down debt, whether it’s on credit cards, personal loans or student loans.

“Just not blowing it completely — saving it or using it to pay off some bills is the best advice,” she said.

Remember: If you’re paying off student loans, the interest is tax-deductible

Because of the pause on student loan interests during COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, people may have forgotten that the interest they pay on those loans is tax-deductible, Peach said.

“They can usually access that form on the website where they pay their student loans,” she said. “Any college expenses, if you're a college student as well, are tax deductible. So any books or supplies that you pay for.”