How to file your tax return for free
Taxpayers with simple returns have several free filing options, from using IRS forms online to getting help from tax prep firms at Wal-Mart.
This post is by Jonnelle Marte at SmartMoney.
The average cost for having an accountant prepare a Form 1040 with a Schedule A and a state tax return was $233 in 2011, up 1.7% from 2009, according to the National Society of Accountants.
But the options for free tax help are growing. The Internal Revenue Service, for instance, offers Free File, a program that offers free tax-preparation software and other tools for taxpayers with low to moderate incomes. Through the IRS site, taxpayers who make $57,000 or less can answer a few questions about their income, location and whether they qualify for certain credits before selecting from a list of companies that offer free tax preparation software. The IRS also offers Fillable Forms, electronic versions of IRS tax forms, for people who are comfortable calculating their own taxes.
Some tax prep companies are setting up shop inside stores to give people free tax help as they pick up clothes and laundry detergent. Wal-Mart, for example, is working with Jackson Hewitt and H&R Block to set up 3,000 tax preparation kiosks at its stores across the United States. Jackson Hewitt is offering free Form 1040EZ filing at Wal-Mart through the April 17 tax deadline; H&R Block is offering similar help for free through Feb. 29.
In addition to the Free File program, the IRS also offers free tax help over the phone and in person for seniors, people with disabilities and non-English speakers. Last tax season, more than 88,000 volunteers helped prepare more than 3 million tax returns for free, according to the IRS.
Tax experts warn that filers may still find themselves with a bill if their tax returns aren’t as basic as anticipated. For instance, while some of the companies offering services through Free File also offer free state tax return preparation, other companies charge $30 or more per form for the latter.
People with other complications, say a couple who just had a child, bought a home or are taking several deductions and credits, may not qualify for the 1040EZ and might be better off paying for professional help to make sure they don’t miss out on any big tax breaks, says Gene King, a spokesman for H&R Block. “The advantages could mean thousands of dollars for certain taxpayers,” says King.
More from SmartMoney and MSN Money:
- More changes to Form 1040
- The tax implications of foreclosures
- Jobless? You still owe income tax
- Options for electronic tax filing
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I've used TaxAct.com for about 8 years. It may take a small bit of time to set up initally, but once an account is set up, you simply log in to file next years return without having to go through the inital setup all over again. Monte50 is right, records must be kept and organized but no matter how you file, shouldn't you be doing that anyway??
I've never had to wait longer than 2 weeks for my refund and in some cases it took only one week.
They do ask if you want to file your state return and they do charge a fee but just simply click "NO." Pennsylvania has a free filing program, so I simply file with the PA Department of Revenue for free.
So NO there is no such thing as a free tax filing.
And I don't understand why you cannot file directly with the IRS online. You can print out the forms and mail them in but you cannot file online with the IRS or else I cannot find where it is on their website.
Yes, you can E-file free. It is on the irs.gov site. It is not called Free File though - although close.. It is called Free File Fillable Forms. Follow the prompts to it. It is not restricted to the $57,00 or whatever most free e-files are limited to. You don't have to file the state as it won't ask you to - just the federal, or....
Go direct to free file fillable forms (I had put in the actual link but they denied my post initially - saying it was spam).
I found this site last year and used it. The only difference on this site to other ones that are income restricted is that it won't ask you questions for you to confirm you are putting in the right information. As long as you are confident of putting in the correct info, you won't have to pay a dime.
So far as filing state taxes free, most states have a free e-file independent of the federal.
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