How to Do Your Taxes on the Cheap

by Maggie Germano / February 22, 2017

Tax season is upon us! You have until Tuesday, April 18th to file your taxes. If you’re living or working outside of the US, you have until Thursday, June 15th to file. I recommend getting an early start so you can avoid the stress of rushing against a deadline. However, if you think you’ll need to file for an extension, you need to postmark the extension request by April 18th.

Now that you’re ready to file your taxes (early!), you shouldn’t spend a bunch of money doing so. Here are some ways to do your taxes for free (or cheaply).

1. Turbo Tax

Turbo Tax is the program that I usually use. The user experience is good (except for them trying to upsell you the whole time), and the process isn’t confusing. You can file your federal and state taxes for free (using Turbo Tax Absolute Zero). There are several other paid options, where you can get more support and advice while filing. I found out this year that it costs $89.99 to file business taxes using Turbo Tax, which makes me sad.

2. H&R Block

H&R Block is very similar to Turbo Tax. In fact, sometimes I fill in my information in both programs to see if one will get me a better refund. (That happened once, but usually the numbers are the same.) There is a free federal and state filing option (H&R Block More Zero), but they can also charge you for more premium features. According to their website, you can also meet with a tax pro in person and file your federal taxes, for free.

3. Credit Karma Tax

Credit Karma is known for providing your credit score for free. And if you’re not already using it for that, you should! (Credit Sesame is another option.) This year, Credit Karma unveiled its brand new tax filing program. Credit Karma Tax has free federal and state e-filing. According to them, there is no paid option – it is all free, and there’s no annoying upselling! I’m excited to try it out.

4. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program

This program is offered through the IRS. You qualify if you earn under $54,000, are disabled, or aren’t a fluent English speaker. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. So not only can you file for free, but you also get free support and guidance while completing your taxes.

5. Free File Alliance

This software is available to taxpayers who earn under $64,000 (which is 70% of us). The IRS has partnered with more than a dozen tax software companies to offer this program. You can search through the participating companies and choose which will work the best for you.

6. My Free Taxes

United Way has partnered with H&R Block to offer My Free Taxes. This program is also available to those who earn under $64,000 a year. According to their website, 80% of taxpayers who used this program finished filing their taxes in under an hour.

For even more options, visit here. Happy filing!

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