This is not tax advice. I am not a tax professional.
Okay, now that we got that out of the way, tax season is here! I personally am not a fan, and every year, as soon as I have all my forms, I do my taxes ASAP just to get it over with. The tricky part is finding a way to do it for free, but so far I’ve managed to do that every year.
If all you have to deal with are some W-2s, then you basically get the pick of the litter from free online services. I’ll run through all the options, including the free ones and and the most basic. Your cheapest option is to do it online yourself. Now, if you have a complicated a return and feel unsure about it, I definitely recommend having a professional do your return so it’s done correctly.
Don’t forget to network and talk to friends and family. If there’s someone close to you who is a CPA or works for a tax or accounting company, they may be able to do it for free or give you some sort of discount.
Most of the following companies will let you do your federal tax return for free, but then will charge a small free to file your state tax return. If your state offers free e-file, you may be able to take the numbers from your federal return and file the state by yourself. Find out if your state has free e-file.
I used TaxAct last year, and I love it. They offer a free federal edition, which asks you questions in plain English, which makes the process much easier. I believe most people with income under $50K should qualify for the free edition, though I couldn’t find specifics on the site. The online deluxe version is only $9.95.
If you use the free edition, the state return it $14.95. For the deluxe online edition, it’s an additional $8. (I would recommend filing the state yourself for free, if you can).
CompleteTax has several options as well. Their free options supports 1040EZ and EITC, and anyone single or married filing jointly without children or dependents. Their Basic level is $9.95, which supports any 1040 form, dependents, and itemized deductions, and there are two more levels after that for those with investments or businesses.
Now their State returns are $29.95–definitely not the best deal. But again, you may want to try to file that yourself if you can.
I’ve used TurboTax in the past, and their software is really easy to use, but not as cheap as some of the companies I’ve already listed. Their free edition covers a lot of forms for simple tax returns. Their next level, Basic, costs $14.95 and is good for mortgages, childcare expenses, and charitable donations.
Their state is $27.95, a little less than CompleteTax, but more than TaxAct.
H&R Block has their own at home software, and it includes a free option. Their free option will not prepare returns with self employment, stock transactions, rental property, farm or K_I income. The next level is Deluxe, which costs $29.95, which is recommended as best for investors/homeowners.
Each state return is $29.95.
This is not a comprehensive list of all the places that offer free online tax return services. The IRS has compiled a list that you may want to check out if none of the options suit you. I’d also love to hear what tax services you’ve used in the past and plan to use this year.