If you’ve never taken advantage of the many free tax-filing options out there, you could be missing out. There are several free – or low cost – options available that will not only save you a few bucks, but will help simplify the process as well.
Here is a look at some tax filing services that won’t break the bank. Note: Some free services aren’t available to homeowners or other taxpayers with itemized deductions.
The IRS offers Free File, a service that allows people earning $62,000 or less to choose from a variety of online tax software options. The Free File Alliance, as it’s called, is a partnership between the IRS and 13 independent software providers. This year its newly partnered with Operation HOPE, a global non-profit organization providing financial literacy empowerment and economic education.
Some participating Free File companies offer free state tax prep and e-file. Those with higher incomes can file free online using the free fillable forms. Since 2003, more than 46 million people have taken advantage of this program. Users choose from among the participating software offerings, file their returns electronically, and receive their refunds via direct deposit.
Beyond the IRS, those within the same income limit of $62,000 can turn to MyFreeTaxes.com, which is offered by the Walmart Foundation, Goodwill Industries, the National Disability Institute and United Way Worldwide. The free service covers both federal and state taxes.
The major commercial tax companies are also getting in on the free offerings, but you might have to shell out a few bucks for state filing or other advanced services. TurboTax’s Federal Free Edition offers a live on-screen help function if you need an expert to walk you through the process.
Taxact.com, this year, is offering free federal and state tax returns for those filing simple 1040 EZ/A returns. For $19.99, you can get the “premium” packing, filing more complex, itemized federal and state taxes with free phone support.
ESmartTax, the online arm of Liberty Tax Services, offers free federal filing with live chat assistance as you file a simple tax return, including Affordable Care Act forms. But state returns start at $26.95 (ouch).
All in all, these do-it-yourself online tax filing options will offer big-time savings if you’re used to paying a tax pro to handle all of your paperwork. Better still, the sites make filing a painless, step-by-step process, which is why more and more people are logging in to settle up with the IRS.
If you prefer to handle your taxes the old fashioned way, you may also be eligible for free in-person help with tax preparation.
Have you used an online tax filing service? How much did it cost you? Please let us know in the comments.