Ways you can file taxes online for free
If you are counting on your tax refund to help you pay the bills, that probably means you don’t have a lot of extra cash to employ an accountant. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of ways people can file their taxes online for free.
Filing taxes online minimizes your risk of making mathematical errors, and online software programs can usually help you find tax credits and/or tax deductions that you didn’t realize you were eligible for.
One popular method is IRS Free File, an online service available on the agency’s website (irs.gov). With the e-file process, you can file your taxes online and your return goes directly to the IRS with no paper tax forms necessary. Free File is free for all users who meet the eligibility requirements. If you wish to use IRS Free File to file your taxes electronically, you must have an AGI (adjusted gross income) of $57,000 or less for that tax year.
Alternatively, you can use websites such as TurboTax to file your taxes online. If your tax situation is relatively simple, the TurboTax Free Addition allows you to file your federal income tax return for free, and charges a small fee if you want to file your state tax return as well. Using tax preparation software is more budget-friendly than hiring an accountant or tax professional, whose fees for federal and state returns will vary from state-to-state.
In addition to filing taxes online, many of these tax preparation programs also give you the option of deferring your payment (for the online filing service) until you receive your tax refund. In this case, your tax refund would be sent to the tax preparation company, which will deposit the refund check into your bank account after deducting their fee.
There are many competitors out there when it comes to tax preparation and online filing services. Depending on your tax situation, you may be able to file your taxes online for free with companies such as TurboTax, TaxACT, H&R Block, or Tax Slayer. H & R Block is already a respected brand in the field of tax preparation, due to the services available at their brick-and-mortar locations. TaxACT is very popular as well, and advertises the fact that any user (at any income level) can use their service to file taxes online — distinguishing it from the IRS Free File service which does have income limits. On the other hand, Tax Slayer is a fairly new company and has gotten generally favorable reviews (although some users complain about extra fees for amending their tax returns).
Of course, any company that lets you file taxes online for free, as well as use their free software for simple returns, is hoping to upgrade you to a more profitable product. But if you know that you only need to file taxes online — and you don’t need/want extra help preparing your return or have your financial information saved in a database for the following year — then you can ignore the company’s ads and suggestions for upgrading to premium versions. Instead, just get your taxes done correctly, on time, and for free.