This post is by Dawn Papandrea of Living on the Cheap.

Image: Mature couple calculating expenses © Abel Mitja Varela, the Agency Collection, Getty Images
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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. You may also be eligible for free in-person help with tax preparation.

Here is a look at some tax-filing services that won’t break the bank. Note: Some free services aren’t available to homeowners who deduct mortgage interest or other taxpayers with itemized deductions.

The IRS offers Free File, a service that allows people earning $57,000 or less to choose from a variety of online tax software options. Those with higher incomes can file free online using the free fillable forms. The Free File Alliance, as it’s called, is a partnership between the IRS and 15 independent software providers. Since 2003, more than 36 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 $57,000 can turn to MyFreeTaxes.com, which is offered by the Wal-Mart Foundation, Goodwill Industries, the National Disability Institute and United Way Worldwide. The free service covers both federal and state taxes.

The major commercial tax preparation 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 Freedom Edition, for instance, offers a freebie deal for those who meet one of the following criteria: earn $31,000 or less in adjusted gross income; are on active military duty and earn less than $57,000; or qualify for Earned Income Credit.

Free state filing is also part of the package if you’re from one of 23 participating states; otherwise, filing state tax returns is $14.95.

H&R Block At Home Free allows taxpayers to file federal returns for no cost but charges $27.95 for state filing. At $14.95 for state income tax filing, Taxact.com is another provider offering free federal filing with no income restrictions.

All in all, these do-it-yourself online tax filing options will offer big-time savings if you’re used to paying a tax professional 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.

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