How to File Taxes for Free
Few people look forward to filing their taxes and no one looks forward to paying them. It’s a necessary job and a necessary expense, but one that can be made easier and significantly cheaper with free filing solutions. With that said, let’s look at some of the ways you can file a tax return for free.
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TurboTax Freedom Edition
TurboTax is a leading tax preparation program that has both free and premiums versions for state and federal tax returns (1040 EZ and 1040A). The free version of this leading tax software is provided through the Free File Alliance, an organization created in conjunction with the IRS to help US citizens file their annual tax returns for free.
TurboTax Freedom Edition has some eligibility requirements in place, however. You need to be earning less than $100,000 a year and not have any income from investments or rentals.
This income requirement is actually higher than other programs on this list, but if you still exceed it, we would recommend looking into the premium version of this program. Intuit TurboTax is an industry leader, and not without reason. It can be used to file accurate income tax returns and keep track of all key data throughout the tax year.
TaxAct can be used online through your web browser and on your desktop as a downloadable program. It adopts a simple and extremely helpful approach to filing a state and federal return, asking you a series of questions and then using your answers to complete your return.
You can track the status of a tax refund through the software and can also import taxes from last year for a fee of just $5.
TaxAct is a solid piece of software all round and while the free version offered through the Free File Alliance is somewhat limited and restricted (you won’t qualify if you earn more than $52,000) it still has most bases covered.
TaxSlayer is another top program that offers free tax filing, with options for 1040EZ, 1040A and 1040. There is no option for free state returns, however, and you will need to pay $19.99 for those (with an exception for the state of Georgia).
TaxSlayer is up there with TurboTax as one of the best tax preparer programs and offers a wealth of features to make this process easier. The free edition is limited (but useful) and the premium editions are very competitively priced.
IRS Paper Forms
One of the easiest solutions is to complete paper forms and submit them to the IRS. You will need to pay for postage, and you’ll lose the speed and convenience of electronic filing, but other than that, it’s free.
If you’re a first-time filer, however, this is not recommended. You’re more prone to making mistakes and may overlook something that could save you money. Trying to save a few bucks here could ultimately cost you hundreds of thousands.
Visit the IRS website at IRS.Gov for more information.
Jackson Hewitt is a premium tax service that has software across multiple levels. There is a free version, but it’s fairly limited in scope and doesn’t have many file options.
You can’t include student loan interest or dependents on the free version and will need to upgrade, which can be costly when compared to other options.
eFile.com offers a simple way to file a single and joint 1040EZ tax form, with a premium service offered for state returns. You can submit electronically or print and send by mail, and there is an extensive support section to help you if you encounter any issues.
As with TurboTax, you need to be earning less than $100,000 a year and you will also not qualify for this free file program if you have dependents.
H&R Block Free File
H&R Block is one of the better tax preparation programs out there and one of the few that allows you to easily transfer documents between programs. You can also upload tax documents and use the software to file state tax and federal tax returns using any device.
To use the free file version of H&R Block, you must be under the age of 50 and have an adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $64,000.
A surprisingly detailed program with multiple filing options for federal taxes. You can add itemized deductions and investment income, and it supports self-employed filers and small businesses as well, all for free.
Free filers can also take advantage of limited customer support features and if they want to file state tax returns the cost is just under $13 for most states and free for 22 of them.
To use this program, you need to have an income of less than $51,000 and be under the age of 60.
A simple but useful service that offers free federal tax filing, providing you are under the age of 65 and make less than $64,000 a year.
You can file taxes quickly and easily, but the customer support and help options are a little limited when compared to some of the other solutions on this list.
With this self-explanatory website you can file basic 1040EZ forms for free. If you used the service in the previous year, you can also update your last tax return for an even quicker filing.
You can qualify to file through 1040.com if you don’t have any dependents and make more than $100,000 a year, but as with many of the other options outlined above, you will need to pay more for state tax returns.
How to File State Taxes for Free
As you’ve no doubt seen, many of the options that offer free electronic filing don’t include state tax returns. However, you can still submit these for free by visiting your local government website and looking at the available solutions and services.
Many states offer some form of tax help for their citizens, from free filing solutions to information, assistance, and more.
Of course, by the time you find these, read them, and file them, you’ll wonder why you didn’t just pay the extra $13 and use the same software you used to file your federal returns!