Tax season is open! If you still haven’t filed your taxes yet, you may be able to do so for free by using the tips in this article. I highly recommend using e-file when you file your taxes because your tax return is processed at least twice as quickly as a paper tax return. You may receive your refund in as little as 8 days via e-file and select direct deposit as your payment method for your tax refund. On the other hand, it can take a month or more to receive a refund if you file paper forms. Receiving your refund can also take longer if you choose a paper check as your refund method. Keep in mind, the sooner you complete your return, the sooner you will receive a refund!
With that in mind, let’s look at how you can file your taxes online for free. This is the safest, fastest, and most accurate method for filing your taxes. Filing online reduces errors, since paper returns must be manually entered into the IRS computers which can cause delays, and sometimes transcription errors. When possible, efile your tax return.
File Your Tax Return for Free Online
Free File with the IRS. There are several places you can e-file your taxes for free. The IRS recently began offering Free File Fillable Forms to everyone, regardless of income (previously, free file options were limited to lower income individuals). The Free File Fillable Forms are online versions of the paper forms, however, they are designed for people who are comfortable and skilled at dong their own taxes, as they only offer basic calculations. The other downside is that the IRS only offers the Federal versions of these forms – it is up to you to track down your state tax forms if required by your state.
Free File with a private company. The IRS also contracts with multiple private companies to provide free tax software to taxpayers under a certain Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). Taxpayers with an AGI less than $57,000 are qualified to file their federal taxes free through a participating company. Again, state taxes are not included in the Free File offer. Companies that offer Free File may have different eligibility requirements for their Free File program, and the available forms and services may vary – be sure to read the details.
IRS Free File Program vs. Free E-file
It’s also essential to clear up some confusion regarding the IRS FreeFile program, and free e-filing. The basic difference is that Free File is sponsored by the IRS through the two methods mentioned above. E-file is a method of filing your taxes via the internet and is offered free of charge by all the major tax software and tax preparation companies. Processing tax returns submitted via e-file is cheaper, faster, and more accurate than filing paper returns.
When searching for a place to file your taxes for free, be sure that you are signing up for the Free File program if you qualify, and always ensure the tax preparation company or software you use offers free e-file so you can receive your tax refund more quickly
Where to File Your Taxes for Free
There are many online tax preparation companies and various software programs. Here are a few of the major programs that offer software support, guarantee their tax preparations, and offer Free File and free e-file. Remember that there may be different Free File eligibility rules (you generally must have an AGI under $57,000 to qualify) and there may be an additional charge to file your state taxes.
Free File with TurboTax: TurboTax is the company I used for about 5 years or so, and I am most familiar with their product (I now use an accountant due to my business income and more complicated tax situation). The TurboTax software is intuitive and walks you through each stage of the tax return, including income, deductions, tax credits, etc. The TurboTax Free file program supports IRS forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ.
- File your federal tax return free with TurboTax.
Free File with H&R Block At Home: H&R Block At Home is the software program owned by H&R Block. Their software is fully guaranteed and easy to use. The H&R Block At Home Free File Online program guides you through a simple, federal tax return to help ensure your taxes are done right. The form is pre-selected and there are no forms to select.
- File your federal tax return free with H&R Block At Home.
Free File with FreeTaxUSA: FreeTaxUSA provides the Federal Free File program for taxpayers with an AGI less than $57,000; free state tax returns are available for those with an AGI less than $20,000. Taxpayers who are not eligible for a free state return will only pay $9.95 to file their state taxes. FreeTaxUSA’s Free File program covers all simple forms of income, deductions, and credits. Check out the FreeTaxUSA site for more details.
- File your federal tax return free with FreeTaxUSA.
Whichever company you use to file your taxes, I hope your tax return is a good one and you receive it quickly! Good luck!
Note: If you are in the military, you are also eligible for free tax preparation. Check out this article: Free Tax Preparation for Military Members.