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Ask the Readers: Saving money on tax preparation

As the end
of January nears, my husband gets in a tizzy to get our taxes done so he can plan
ahead. In the past I have bought Turbo Tax every year to do our taxes. After reading your blog for almost a year now, I got to thinking that
there must be some form of less expensive tax preparation software. I hate to
drop $50 on Turbo Tax!  It’s a wonderful program, but very
pricey!  We make more than $50,000/year so we don't qualify for the free programs that out there. Does anyone have a suggestion for a less-expensive solution than $50 for Turbo Tax?
-Amy

Great question, Amy! Since my husband is an attorney and my dad is a CPA, we've never had to pay for tax preparation as they work together on getting our taxes filed. However, I know most people aren't in the same position as us so I'd love to hear what you all do as far as tax preparation goes. Any ideas for Amy and her husband to save money on their tax preparation?

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132 Comments

  • Jessica Cary says:

    Together we make more than $50,000 and the free edition of Turbo Tax has worked great for us. We have just had to search a little bit to find a free site to do our state taxes separate.

  • Stephanie says:

    I do Tax Act online, which is free and then I think $16 or so to Efile. I don’t have a lot of deductions and such like Crystal probably has because of her business so I feel comfortable using it.

  • Tara says:

    We have used tax act online in previous years whenever we made less than $50,000 and got an e-mail about it again this year. We made more than $50,000 in 2008 but I just did our taxes and they didn’t charge us anything so maybe try them………

    It does cost $13.95 to do the state – but I just printed our federal and am going to use that info and just put it in the form and mail in the state instead. LOL.

  • Swap Savers says:

    My sister uses H&R software which is also $50 but today it is on sale for $29.99.
    http://www.swapsavers.com/forum/topics/hr-tax-cut-2008-2999

  • Julie says:

    We belong to a credit union, which is offering Turbo Tax online for free, in addition to free e-filing. There do not appear to be any income stipulations, either. You might check with your banking institution to see if something similar is available.

    I faithfully bought TurboTax each year, too, and hated to spend the money. Then I found out this year that a family in our church paid $180 to a tax preparer to do just a basic tax form for them! I stopped complaining, and then God dropped it in my lap for free anyway!

  • Leighann says:

    I certainly wish I could get my taxes done for free but fortunately I can’t either. However I use H&R Block Online and pay around $39.95 but by going through Ebates first I can save an extra 12%.

  • Emily Mitchell says:

    Hello,
    I had similar thoughts that I would do my own taxes because I didn’t want to spend the money on tax preparation software. I am an engineer by schooling and not an accountant. Anyways, apparently I did not do a good job – the IRS sent us a letter back alerting me that I made a mistake and they corrected it – the correction *added* $400 to our tax return. So, long story short – by trying to do it myself – it almost cost us $400!
    We don’t even have complicated finances but we need to file a 1040 (*not* a 1040EZ) and I was surprised at just how confusing I found all of the instructions to be.
    Just an idear – if the tax laws havent’ really changed from last year to this year, you could use your last years turbo tax program to generate a form and then you could transfer the numbers to this years form???? Again… this advice is coming from someone who almost lost $400!
    I thought that was pretty nice that the IRS would fix that for us…
    Good luck,
    Emily

  • Mary says:

    We do them ourselves using http://www.taxact.com. Free efile, free federal return, all you have to pay for is the state return. They have three different levels, the most you will pay is $16.95. It walks you through it step by step, very easy, I would highly recommend it!

  • lindsey says:

    taxact.com has free federal and $13.95 state. that beats $50.00.

  • Camille says:

    For the past 4 years we have used a free online tax preparation website,TaxAct.com. You can pay around $10 for the upgraded TaxAct that will let you know if there are any “red flags” on your taxes (things that make it more likely to get audited for). It will even let you e-file so you can get your refund quicker. It’s been a great program for us, and we itemize and have a rental property.

  • B. says:

    Amy, I recommend http://www.efile.com, or http://www.turbotax.com

    You can file your taxes very easily using either of these sites, and you only have to pay for the cost of filing, not the cost of purchasing a program (hard copy) such as Turbo Tax.

    Hope this helps!

  • Amy says:

    We cane use Turbo Tax for free through a link on our credit unions website. Also, check the IRS website. If you have an income of less than $56, 000 you can link to Turbo Tax and file for free through there.

  • kym says:

    Taxactonline.com was listed by someone that I got off of your links, but I can’t remember who?? I am in the middle of filing, but so far it seems as intuitive as Turbo tax. I will pay them 13.95 to file my state taxes, but federal is free. They also have a deluxe package that is very reasonable, too.
    Thanks again for helping our family save money!

  • Jennifer says:

    We have used TaxACT for at least 3 years (maybe 4). It is an online program (same kind asTurbo Tax or the kind used by tax prep services) that is free. There is some advertising for you to “upgrade” but if you don’t mind that & can ignore the marketing, it’s quite easy. You can e-file your federal return for free, but there is a fee to e-file your state return ($13.95). We’ve been very pleased with the program and will use it again this year. See http://www.taxact.com for more info.

  • Emily says:

    We use Taxact.com which is free. You just have to pay a small fee to file electronically. We’ve used them for years and love it!

  • Nancy K. says:

    We bought our TurboTax on amazon.com.. keep a tab on the version you need, and then “watch” it to see if it changes price (amazon does this) and then perhaps you can get it when they’ve lowered it. I got mine for $39.99 w/free shipping and no tax.

  • Charity says:

    I do our taxes every year and have used tax act online. To file state and federal combined is only $21.00

  • Terry says:

    I am a huge fan of this blog, and the idea that everything under the sun can be purchased for less money with some smart planning. But I will say that I see this issue differently, as I am a tax accountant myself. I think that it’s important to keep in mind that a good tax product that alerts you to a deduction or credit that you might otherwise miss, can pay for itself many many times over. I think that the HR Block Tax Cut program may be less expensive, and I think it is a better program myself. Good luck with your taxes!

  • Nicole says:

    We always use freetaxusa.com. Use this code at checkout if you make more than 50,000 to get it for free FREE1040. You will still have to pay $9.95 for them to prepare your state tax. You could also check your state tax website to see if you can prepare and e-file for free (Ohio has this option)

  • LANA says:

    If your taxes aren’t difficult, like if you don’t own your own company or own property outside of the US, then they fairly easy to do yourself (surprisingly). In Canada you can pick up tax packages at your local post office. Check your local P.O. and see. Also, maybe a close friend or relative could do them for you for cheaper. I do my mother in laws for her as they are quite easy. She watches the kids for us for an evening in return.

  • I have used the software TaxAct for four years. I first downloaded it off the internet back in 2005, and now each year they send me the update for the current year. I can purchase both the federal and state software for $19.95 and that includes free federal electronic filing. I love this software. It is easily just as good as the more expensive software programs out there. I would recommend it to anyone!

  • Julie Kreke says:

    I have always done our taxes myself. I just read the instruction booklet carefully and take my time. The irs.gov website has a lot of extra tips. One year I made a mistake and they just sent it back asking for a correction, with no problems. I think too many people are scared of the whole process, but it is less overwhelming than it first seems. I have done both the easy and regular form, as well as one year of multiple states. Our library has free tax help this time of year as well, something to keep in mind.

  • MJ says:

    I use TaxAct (www.taxact.com) every year.
    You can use their website to prepare and print a 1040 Federal Return & E-file it for Free. You can do your state form through them, for a small fee. They have different options, at differnt costs, but their basics are free, and even the upgrades are cheap!

  • Stacey B says:

    Taxactonline.com is a great website that I have used for several years. This year it is completely free for everyone that would like to use it to file their federal taxes online. It asks you questions & plugs the information into the correct areas on the form…when you are finished you can print a copy for your records & efile to the IRS. You can also file your state taxes, but there is a charge for that service, I have never used that feature since I live in a state that does not have a state income tax (yet).

  • Meredith says:

    I just finished my taxes this morning and I used tax cut from H&R block. I bought the disk at our dollar store and I had to pay for the state program but the federal was free. I was also allowed to electronically file my federal taxes for free. I had to pay to file my state electronically. It cost me less than $30.00 to electronically file both federal and state and to pay for the software. You may be able to download the software from their site. HTH

  • Stephanie H. says:

    I usually use H&R Block online. I’ve used them year after year and they’re really easy and reliable. The basic package is only $14.95 for Federal. They offer your State return for an additional $29.99 , but my state has an easy 2-D income tax form that I can complete online and print- so I only pay $14.95. You can always look on your state’s tax commision website to see if they have anything like that to help you save money. Once I’ve done my federal return- the state return is really easy.

  • Stacy says:

    Two years ago I switched to Taxcut. It is basically the same program, but about half the price.

  • Helen says:

    Yeah, the software is expensive, but I got TaxCut Pro (With free federal filing) for free with rebate. Was on sale for $30, you got $20 rebate when you bought it, and $10 more rebate if you also mailed in proof that you had an older version of tax software. My state offers free filing online, so it is zero for me to do my own taxes. I have never looked for tax prep help, so I do not know if it costs more than software (but assume it must) so I am happy to take care of it myself.

  • Camille says:

    Pay a tax professional to sit down with you this year and walk you through the tax forms. Unless you’ve got some really complicated situations, you should be able to understand and follow along. Barring any major changes, you should be good to do them on your own from then on. Also, the IRS is offer free e-filing for all taxpayers this year. This is not tax preparation like Turbo Tax who will prompt you and do your work for you, but you can still fill out the form and file it. I haven’t looked it over in-depth yet, but it can be found here: http://irs.gov/efile/index.html?portlet=4

  • Rachel says:

    Many banks offer free or discounted tax software if you have an account with them. Ask someone at the bank or log into online banking and see if there are any special deals. I know US Bank usually has discounted tax prep software.

  • Shayleen says:

    http://www.taxslayer.com
    We’ve never paid more than $15 to file both federal and state (combined). We also used to use turbo tax (for four years), but have used tax slayer for the past three.

  • Sarah says:

    We have tried several different ways, and Turbo Tax honestly seems to be the best way. I know the initial fee is annoying, but it gets you the most back that you can get. We have been very pleased with it…..of course, having a tax-preparing family would be much better but I don’t think that will be happening for us!!! 🙂

  • Amanda says:

    Amazon has a deal today only on H&R block’s taxcut program. You can get the $50 program for only $30.00. Go to amazon.com and then click on today’s deals at the top. I have used taxcut every year and I really like it. It’s easy to use and the best thing is you can call an accountant at H&R block for free if you have any questions.

  • Becky says:

    http://www.taxact.com is the place to go for doing your taxes free online. I’ve used it for several years.

  • cher says:

    I use PriceGrabber to search for everything and I just recieved my Turbo Tax 2008 Deluxe for $39.92! That was definetly the best price I could find. The company was SCE and they had good reviews written about them. I am satisfied with my order!

  • Candi says:

    Taxact.com is free, even with e-file for any income (I think any, mine is $97,000 and it was still free)

  • Charlene says:

    I did our taxes myself for years. The last two years I used Turbo Tax so I could file electronically. Getting my money back faster, and the ease of importing your data from the past years, makes it worth the price for me.

  • Colleen says:

    I would try the online free version of turbotax. Unless you have a lot of complicated deductions, I’ve heard it works well. Also, check around the neighborhood. A lot of colleges around here offer free tax help programs without any income restrictions.

  • Rachel says:

    In the past I have prepared our taxes by myself the old fashioned way. Last year I tried Tax Cut for the first time. It made everything so easy that it is definitely worth the money. (It is a little cheaper than Turbo Tax, but not much). I’d love to save the $40, but saving that money just isn’t worth it when it comes to confusing taxes. I’m also disabled, which makes my energy very precious. I don’t want to waste any more than necessary on taxes. I’ll just pay the $40 and do things the easy way. I’m generally very frugal, but not when it comes to this!

  • TheSimplifiedSaver says:

    Try TaxAct.com I have always used Turbo Tax and have loved it, however I wasn’t loving the price this year. Tax Act is cheaper and you can do both your Federal and State and electronically file as well. My husband and I just did our taxes this past weekend and are currently waiting to receive our refund. It was just as easy to use as Turbo Tax, so you might want to check it out!

  • Heather says:

    http://www.taxact.com/
    This is an online federal tax program free to anyone. It can also do a state return for a fee of $13.95. I used it for practice assignments when I was in college getting my degree in accounting. I found it to be very similar to Turbo Tax, but with a much better price!

  • Kellie says:

    Hmmm. We do not make over $50,000. What is this? ANYONE? PLEASE? That would be fantastic. Am I a total dummy for not knowing about this???

  • Michelle says:

    I buy TurboTax in January at Costco. They always have a coupon in January. I paid $40 for it this year and that was the federal/state version with free e-file.

  • Alana Jo says:

    I use TaxSlayer. Super easy and just $9.95.

  • kattmaxx says:

    We find that Turbotax is worth it but we use a coupon and buy it at Costco every January. That puts our price around $30 and we never fail to save at least that much by using it.

  • Katherine says:

    TaxACT Online (www.taxactonline.com) is a FREE online tax software. It is FREE to prepare, print and e-file your federal return using this service no matter what your income level!! However, if you have to file state income taxes, it is $13.95 with free e-file OR you can simply do your state income taxes separately.

  • Genny says:

    We used taxact. It was great. There is a free version, we didn’t use it, we upgraded to deluxe and it cost me 16.95. Good luck. Genny

  • Amber says:

    I mystery shop a lot, and there are plenty of places that will pay you to do your taxes! They screen you to make sure you qualify. You must apply for a refund anticipation loan. You get all of your tax preparation expenses covered, plus an extra $70 to fill out shop online.
    Here is just one of many companies that do the Tax Prep. shops:
    http://www.kernscheduling.com/

    Hope this helps!!

  • How difficult are your taxes?

    I have never found taxes too difficult to do by hand. If I can get a free program, etc. I’ll use it. But if you read the booklet, etc. You can do it yourself.

    Or, if you are not comfortable with that, and your tax situation is basically the same year to year, then pay someone to do it one year and then you know the pieces of paperwork you need to be sure to fill out and what you can claim, etc. And just do it yourself after that.

  • Suzy says:

    We use TaxAct online each year. Its free to file electronically for Federal, and you can choose to print your state taxes and mail them yourself for free (depending on your state) OR file electronically – i think that may cost $20.

  • Katherine says:

    I have just recently learned that many public libraries offer help with tax prep. I have found several that work with the AARP to help people fill out their taxes for free, and age and income are not a factor. However, if your taxes are complicated, they may refer you elsewhere. Also, they usually only do it a few days a week during certain hours, and you will probably need an appointment. Good luck, and happy returns!!

  • Jessica says:

    I’m not sure which package you buy from Turbo Tax, but the “Premier” package can be downloaded from the TurboTax website for $29- and it includes both Federal and state filing. Last month, Costco did have a coupon for the actual software package, but this download deal is even less expensive. Another option is to simply get the forms and fill it all out yourself- although you’d have to have a decent knowledge of the latest tax cuts to do this. Other than that- maybe find a friend in tax accounting??

  • SarahJane says:

    I still do my taxes ‘by hand’. I use the pamphlet I get in the mail, read it, research online, and then fill out the forms using Adobe, print and mail. Doing it this way may increase my risk of being audited, but since I’m being honest I don’t worry about it.

  • Sugdenc says:

    I have used TaxAct for the last 4 or 5 years. It’s only $16.95 for Federal and State and does a very good job.

  • Amy says:

    Go to irs.gov. Over on the left it will say something about tax preparation services. Answer a few questions and it will tell you what free sites you qualify for. I am looking into TaxAct.com this year.

  • Anna C says:

    I’ve used TaxAct.com the past few years, and there is a small fee for filing, but it’s less than $20 for me to file both state and federal taxes.

  • jill farris says:

    Our local library offers free tax prep to anyone regardless of income level.

  • JENNY says:

    SINCE YOU MAKE OVER 50K…I AM NOT SURE ABOUT FEDERAL, BUT I AM PRETTY SURE THAT MOST STATES HAVE A WEBSITE THAT IS FREE, REGUARDLESS OF INCOME. THIS YEAR I MANAGED TO GET MINE ALL DONE FOR FREE. WE DO NOT MAKE 50K SO WE WERE ABLE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT WHICH WAS GREAT(http://www.hrblock.com/taxes/partner/index.jsp?otpPartnerId=180)
    AND WE LIVE IN MD AND THEY HAVE A SITE (MARYLANDTAXES.COM) THAT YOU CAN DO IT FOR FREE.
    GOOD LUCK EVERYONE! IT IS A SHAME THAT THEY MAKE PEOPLE PAY LOTS OF MONEY FOR SOMETHING THAT THEY MAKE YOU DO!

    GOD BLESS!

  • Jenn C. says:

    We also have used TaxAct the last 3 years and haven’t had any trouble. We usually use the free version and last year upgraded to $9.95, but found that my husband and I could really do withouth (but we’re math nerds!) We even filed our small business taxes this way. You have to pay to file state taxes, but we just file online through our state’s website and found that to be fine.

  • Karen says:

    we use taxact.com also. I usually download the free program instead of doing it online. It’s easy and federal is free.

  • Lori says:

    This year we went to IRS site and then to the free efile page. At the bottom it gives you the option to fill in your own forms and it will bring up any form you need. It also opens a window with directions for filling out forms and has a do the math button. It is all free and our taxes were in our bank account within 10days. Good Luck.

  • PollyS says:

    This is one area we do not under any circumstances cut corners. If our CPA asked us to pay double, we would. It is just too important.
    Our CPA’s firm offers tax preparation for $75. This includes a small consultation with one of the staff. While we are small business owners, this service wouldn’t work for us. But I would certainly suggest you seek out a similar program with a firm. Particularly if you take deductions and/or have a small business. The tax code is just too dang confusing. You will probably get your fee back plus some because of their help.

  • Jessica says:

    Watch for a deal on fatwallet.com or slickdeals.com. A couple of weeks ago we were able to get H&R Block software for free, as well as free filing for state and federal!

  • Sara says:

    For those in the military (or military dependents), Military One Source offers free tax filing every year. Not sure what company is doing it this year…last year it was H +R Block. Great resource!
    http://www.militaryonesource.com

  • mandy says:

    I used http://www.taxslayer.com last year and it only cost $9.95 to file my federal (1040) and my state return. I was very pleased with this site and will use it again this year. I am not of the accounting mindset and this site was very easy for me to navigate and understand the forms.

  • Kelly S. says:

    Share with friends or family. Everyone needs to do their taxes so it shoudln’t be too difficult to find someone to split it with. My dad does mine on his turbotax so that we only need one copy…

  • Jan says:

    Usually someone (Office Max?) will have TurboTax on sale in January- we just buy the basic version and it was like $20. Don’t forget you can deduct the cost of your tax preparation software too!

  • Pamela says:

    Tax Cut online through HR Block is what we use. Great service and easy to follow. We’ve already finished our taxes and are just waiting for the direct deposit on our refund!! Yippee!! To e-file for Federal is free and they charged $29.95 to file our state taxes through the state of Oregon. hope this helps. Don’t be intimidated by taxes…this program is so helpful with lots of places to get your questions answered.
    God bless, Pamela

  • BEWARE! If your taxes involve business expenses and lots of write offs, which seem to change year-to-year on what you can and cannot write off, HIRE A PROFESSIONAL! After we had our taxes done last year, my husband’s 401K company mailed him a check for $5,000 and said he paid too much into his 401K. It would have been a nightmare had we not used H & R block. We ended up owing money to the IRS but it was paid for, not by us, but by H & R Block because we bought the “peace of mind”. That more than paid for everything!

  • We always use Tax Act. It is free for the federal and cost $13.95 to file State Tax.

    It ask pointed questions and “walks” you through a very thorough tax return.

    Would highly recommend!!

  • MArgaret says:

    the AARP Tax-aide program…
    They do free tax filing in many locations all over the nation for free, not just seniors or low income. I actually helped prepare people’s taxes last year and if you are willing to spend the little time it takes to get your forms together, they will prepare and even efile for you for free!!! (unless you have a complicated tax situation like daytrading or somesuch)
    https://locator.aarp.org/vmis/sites/tax_aide_locator.jspto find the nearest Tax-Aide near you.

  • AnneJ says:

    My husband (who used to work in public accounting) is using http://www.taxact.com this year since he can’t file them at work (he now works in the private industry). It was recommended by his accountant friends. There is a fee to file the state return unless you sign up for the all-inclusive program which is only $17.

  • Michele says:

    I do our taxes myself with TurboTax Online. If you go through some of the bigger investment companies’ websites such as Fidelity, Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, etc. you can usually get a discount of 20% to 30% off. Our credit union gives a discount if we go through their website as well. I always check a few of the websites since each year it seems one has a better discount than the other. Also, if you do the TurboTax Online, the price goes up as time goes by. In other words, it’s cheaper to do it in February than in March.

    As an aside, I also think it is a great learning tool to go through and try doing your taxes yourself even if you have someone else finalize them for you. It is a real eye-opener as to how what you do each year regarding earnings, savings, borrowing, and giving impacts the amount of taxes you pay.

  • Karen W says:

    I didn’t read all the comments so I don’t know if someone already said this but there is a mystery shopping company that is doing tax shops right now and as long as you are getting a refund and have good credit to get refund loan they are paying $70 + the cost of everything. If anyone is interested they can email me and I”ll send them the email I got today. frugalrimama@cox.net

  • Sheri says:

    http://www.taxslayer.com

    Others have mentioned this, it is very inexpensive for all users, but for military it is FREE both Federal and State. We have used them for 5 years now. I got my tax return last Friday, direct deposit.

  • Shelia says:

    Taxslayer.com

    Used it the last few years and its great. $9.95 to prepare and efile both state and federal. Very happy with it.

  • Sheri says:

    Last year State Farm had a deal that their online customers (you just have to make an online account with you insurance info, not open a bank account) could use TurboTax online for free. I just checked their site and it looks like they are having the same deal this year as well. Hurray!!

  • Broke Girl says:

    I just blogged about this yesterday. There are several sources for getting tax preparation help for free if your gross adjusted income is under $56,000. One of them is even sponsored by the IRS, the VITA program. (Thank you, Uncle Sam!!) The other is online help.

    See: http://bebrokebuthappy.blogspot.com/2009/02/irs-is-here-to-help.html

    I hope this helps. Kind regards, Broke Girl

  • Dawn says:

    Looks like I’m not the first to recommend it, but we also use TaxAct. We’ve used TaxAct for at least the past 5 years. It’s very simple to input your information, there are reasonable prices if you choose to e-file.

  • Jamie says:

    We use TurboTax like a lot of people, and if you happen to invest anything with Vanguard you can link over from there for like $15 off. We file with deductions so we couldn’t do any of the ones you can usually find for free.

  • Mamosa says:

    I find that Turbo Tax is worth the money. We have some complicated tax situations (rental property, small business, investments) though. Just out of curiosity I filled in our information in Turbo Tax AND Tax Act online. The Turbo Tax interview was more thorough, applied to more of our special situations and resulted in a refund of $1,100 more than the Tax Act software. Also remember that the cost of the software and e-filing is deductible…but only in the year that the software was purchased. If you buy it now, you can’t deduct it until next year’s return. If you to irs.gov, follow the link that says Free File, and click on the option “Help Me Choose”. The system will select the best FREE tax filing options for your criteria. Sometimes the income requirements are quite high.

  • For the past two years, we have just maintained a $100 savings account with State Farm and as a member of State Farm (be it insurance, banking, etc.) you have access to Turbo tax for free! So if you have $100 you can plunk into a savings account, it’s well worth looking into!

  • Trisha says:

    Actually, Turbo Tax online is free for everyone now, regardless of your income. Federal taxes with e-filing is free, and state is optional for $25.95.

    http://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/online/free-edition.jsp

  • Tina says:

    Another vote for taxact.com. As has been mentioned several times, they have a 100% free version that is very similar to Turbo Tax. You can pay to upgrade for a reasonable price if you feel more comfortable with that, but the free version will allow you to prepare, print and e-file your federal return. We paid 13.95 to prepare and file our state return, which took all of an extra 2 minutes since the program already had all of our information. Since just filing (or sending through certified mail) tax returns is close to that much anyway, we thought it was WELL worth the money. We had no problems with it and would highly recommend it.

  • Jen says:

    This year we used http://www.taxhawk.com to do our taxes. It has no income restrictions for free federal tax e-filing. Certain state e-filing is also free.

  • Dianna says:

    If you make less than $30,000 OR are active military duty OR qualify for the Earned Income Credit, you can file for free with TurboTax Freedom edition. This is different (and much better) than the free version of TurboTax. It is free to file your federal taxes and if you live in AL, AR, AZ, GA, ID, IA, KY, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, NY, ND, NC, OK, OR, RI, SC, VT,and WV you can file your state taxes for free. If you don’t live in one of those states, it costs $10 to file your state return. I HIGHLY recommend this program if you qualify.
    http://turbotax.intuit.com/taxfreedom/

  • Jenny says:

    I’ve used the online version of TurboTax–but NEVER pay full price for it. Many others (Borders Rewards, USAA, etc.) give discounts on it–so this year, I paid $20 (last year, $17).

    Also, Illinois has it’s own efile website–so no need to use another source. Sounds like other states do, too.

  • Meghan says:

    Just a quick tip if you or your spouse is in the military–often there is a trained tax professional who will do your taxes free of charge on base during tax season. This has saved my husband and I quite a bit of money and time over the past few years! It would be good to contact your command’s Financial Advisor or maybe even just a supervisor to find out if this service is offered at your location.

  • Jenny says:

    We buy TurboTax each year and share it among our family members. It ends up costing about $10 per tax filier. The first year I used it, I found I was not claiming a $300 state tax credit for which I was entitled and then went back and refiled for the previous 2 or 3 years. I saved the $300 and got an extra check in the mail for either $600 or $900. A couple years later, my brother-in-law’s brother asked if I could help him with his taxes. That year, with Turbotax’s help, I found he was entitled to a $1500 education tax credit. We filed for past years for him as well and he received a check for $2600. That’s a great return on investment. A couple of years ago, we purchased rental property and decided to upgrade to the deluxe TurboTax edition. It was well worth the extra money saving us an additional $100 and making our recordkeeping much simplier.

    I am very leary of free online tax programs because of the possibility of identity thief. There is just too much sensitive information on tax forms.

    Also, don’t let the IRS use your money interest-free. Have only what you owe them deducted from your paycheck and set aside the difference in a bank account earning interest for you. In January verify that you have paid enough (need to have paid at least 90% of what you owe). You can send in an additional payment postmarked by January 15th and avoid any penalties. The interest saved may even pay for TurboTax.

  • Hi

    My husband also uses TaxAct @ http://www.taxactonline.com. It costs $16.95 & he loves it. He says it is very simple to use & we have never had any problems. We have used it for 4 years now after paying a professional. What a bargain!!!

  • Alison says:

    We just went to turbotax.com to file. I’m fairly certain that If you get to a point where your specific return requires more than the free edition, they’ll let you know and you’ll have to enter a credit card number in order to continue.

  • Dawn says:

    Through IRS.gov you can find a way to prepare and file for free. Last year my husband & I used H&R Block – prepared & eFiled for free. This year we used Turbo Tax for us and his mother – prepared & eFiled for free and we are all receiving our refunds within 1 1/2 weeks of eFiling. Both sites were great, but Turbo Tax works better with Dial-Up.

  • laura says:

    If you itemize your deductions, then you can deduct the cost of your tax preparation software.

  • LuAnn says:

    You can go to irs.gov and it will show you where you can go online to do your taxes for free. I used TurboTax online for free.

    For our state taxes, I go to the Indiana state web site and use their free site to do our state taxes. You can check your states government site to see if they offer this kind of service.

  • I did my taxes on my own (Federal and State, where applicable, including small business taxes as an independent contractor) up until two years ago. I would fill everything out manually to work my numbers and then efile it for free using whatever came up via IRS.gov as acceptable for my income level. Two years ago I started using TurboTax or whatever it was that was free for military to use – but since we lived in CA for part of 2007, last year we were charged for a state filing – even though we didn’t actually have to pay any tax and didn’t receive a refund. So we were charged to email a FORM to the CA government. 🙁 I anticipate that happening again since we didn’t leave there until late 2008. It was less than $15 though so I’m not going to sweat it. We’ll just gratefully take our refund and roll with it.

  • I do taxes myself as well. As a stay home Mom who has a degree in engineering, I find it very refreshing to be able to use my brain for something! Our taxes aren’t very complicated, so I suppose if they were I might use a program or hire someone. But, the first year I did it, I just read the instructions carefully and made sure I looked at each line to see if it applied to us or not. It wasn’t really too hard and I haven’t had any mistakes in the past 5 years that I’ve been married. And each year it gets easier since most of it stays the same and the numbers just change.

  • Tracy Parral says:

    Try it yourself! I would go to one of the fee tax websites fill out all the info to get the total rebate but do not send the refund, just use that information as a guide incase you get stuck doing them yourself on paper. I always find the state a little difficult, federal is a breeze. Used this method myself last year and will again this year. Worked fine last year made less than 35,000 and got a refund of $5,000 on fed. and $800 on state

  • Nia says:

    If you have car or home insurance through State Farm, you should be able to get turbo tax for free. Just visit their website.

  • Kathleen says:

    I use a family member too, but my taxes are not too complicated since I am a student. Check my blog out:
    http://cheapandeasy-kathleen.blogspot.com/

  • Jennifer says:

    Another good word for TaxActOnline.com. We don’t qualify for free filing, but used them for free without any trouble – including lots of itemizing, independent contractor taxes, etc! They do a free e-file for Federal, and most states (as far as I know) have a no-frills version of an e-file program for free on their state tax site. Good luck!

  • Jennifer says:

    We used used software for years to do our taxes. It always ended up with an arguement between my husband and I because we weren’t quite sure if something applied to us then making a guess. Last year we didn’t have enough deductions and we were going to owe money. A friend said she had someone do her taxes so we decided to use him. He cost us $80 but he found a deduction we didn’t know we could use. He ended up taking us from owing to getting $2oo back and there were no arguements. I will pay the additional for the peace and it will be done right.

  • Krista says:

    I’m a CPA. I believe the better tax softwares out there are well worth the money. I myself could do my own by hand, but I prefer using turbotax, so I can e-file. (Privacy issues prevent us from e-filing through the firm I work for.)

    Don’t forget to look for discounts on the online softwares. My credit union offers members 15% off turbotax online. State Farm Insurance clients also have received a discount in the past, and may be eligible for on this year.

  • Liz says:

    I just realized that my bank (USAA) offers a discount on Turbo Tax. I was so excited as I usually buy the full price edition every year. Also – just remember that the cost of tax preparation (even if it is software) is deductible on your taxes. Save those receipts!

  • Cindy Roberts says:

    Try Intuit-turbo tax freedom file. If your state is on the list you can file FREE! I am in GA and I filed not only my federal but my state for FREE as well. It is a great service and easy. Give it a try…Your income does not matter, it depends on your residency.
    Good luck, hopefully, I can help someone.
    Cindy R.
    🙂

  • Julie says:

    I didn’t take the time to read all the posts so someone may have already mentioned this…My husband made over $50,000 last year and we were able to free file our federal and paid for our state (this year I’ll be searching for a free site). Just go to http://www.irs.gov and they will have information and links there to all the sites that offer free file and you may qualify for one of them. Last year we used H&R block online.

    Happy Tax Season!

  • Ramie says:

    We’ve used TaxAct.com several times. It’s free, cheap to efile and has been wonderful for us!

  • Sarah says:

    My husband does it the old-fashioned way – with his brain and a calculator.

  • Niki says:

    We do use TurboTax but find that it is worth it in the end.

    However I did notice that Dollar Tree sells another one of those tax software programs for only $1. I forget what it is called, but I have seen it at other stores too for more.

  • Jennifer says:

    I use H&R Block’s software to efile my taxes for free (I qualify due to income), but I refuse to pay for them to file state. I figured out last year that I can use their software to prepare the state return and simply use the resulting refund amount to double-check my paper return that I mail in for, yup, FREE. Well, 42 cents.

  • Cindy says:

    Thank you for ALL of the great advice. I am a SAHM but my husband brings home 100,000 a year and even though we could spend the 50.00 on Turbo Tax we are trying to save as much money as possible right now to put down on the home we hope to purchase by summer. All of the advice has really helped. My husband is also in the military (Guard), 16 years, and they offer Tax Prep on base. There is still a fee but I think that is the route that we are going.

  • Jenni says:

    Many of the websites that allow you to file free under the Tax Freedom Act are listing $56,000 as the cutoff. Not sure if you fall under that or not.

    Also, I print my state taxes and mail them. I don’t get enough back to justify paying to e-file and it usually doesn’t take long to receive the check as long as I file early. 🙂

    I posted a list on my blog of various links to the free file sites and places to buy software at a discount, rebates, etc.
    http://ertlnet.blogspot.com/2009/01/its-tax-time.html

    -Jen

  • I have used http://www.taxslayer.com for the last 6 or 7 years. They are around $10 for electronic filing (federal and state) and for military it is FREE! I have never had a problem. I used TurboTax for years and one year tried taxslayer and haven’t used anything else.

  • Heather Snyder says:

    As far as I know you shouldn’t have to repurchase turbo tax every year. You should just be able to update it via email. the nice thing about it is that it gives you the most amount of rebate.

  • Heather Snyder says:

    As far as I know you shouldn’t have to repurchase turbo tax every year. You should just be able to update it via email. the nice thing about it is that it gives you the most amount of rebate.

  • Mom/Grammy says:

    I used Tax Act this year and loved it. Go to taxact.com
    It cost me $16.95 and literally walked me through everything. I had my checks back in less that 2 weeks from State and Federal…..

  • Anita says:

    We’ve used taxact for several years. I usually receive an email in November or December asking me to start the next year’s return and receive a discount on upgrading to the deluxe version which ends up costing $7.95. We itemize and need the extras in the deluxe version.

  • Leanne says:

    I work at an accounting firm and wanted to let everyone know that if the IRS sends you notice of an error in your return, you have every right to dispute that. They make errors, too, and if you aren’t careful you’ll end up giving them money you don’t really owe. Even if you prepare your own taxes and then get a letter stating you owe more, it would be worth it to have a CPA or other tax person take a look just to make sure you really do owe additional money.

  • Bryan says:

    I’ve used Taxslayer.com for years and love it. Handles everything the bigger guys do and it’s cheaper (9.95 for my federal AND state). Good luck!

  • Tara says:

    I am a tax accountant, so obviously, I am biased here. I would be cautious with trying to save $20 or $30 by buying the cheapest software available. Also, keep your eyes open for rebates on TurboTax. It is often available for free with rebate.

    I don’t have alot of experience with consumer tax software b/c I work with professional software, but I have seen TurboTax and I think it is pretty good. And it has a good company behind it (Intuit makes Quickbooks and the professional software I use in my practice). TurboTax might cost a few bucks more, but for good reason. It is well written software, and it is more user friendly. It makes it more likely that your self-prepared tax return will be done correctly. In the scheme of things, a little extra cost for better written software might actually be netting you hundreds of dollars to which you are legally entitled.

    I am all about saving money, believe me. If I can do something myself, I find the thought of paying someone else a bit painful. But there are some areas where it does not pay to cut corners in an extreme way. When it comes to certain matters, it is not extravagant to ask for an expert’s help or pay for better software when the do-it-yourself approach could end up costing you money.

    Good luck!

  • Our local library hosts the AARP tax preparers, and they do it for free with, it seems, no income limit, though I think it is supposed to, they do it for anyone who comes in anyway. You never know.

  • Alicia says:

    As a CPA, I still recommend http://www.taxact.com to anyone looking to save on tax preparation fees. I strongly disagree with the franchised tax operations, as they overcharge for returns prepared by (mostly) underqualified preparers. Last month, I posted a very helpful tool on my blog that will help save on all aspects of tax preparation, and also to help maximize your refund. You can check the post out here:http://gatewaytosaving.blogspot.com/2009/01/income-taxes-free-filing-and-money.html

  • Marci says:

    irs.gov really is a well done site, with pdf’s of all the info you need, and many faq’s that are very helpful. if your taxes are pretty simple, even with itemized deductions, or school credits/deductions … filing yourself really isn’t that difficult.
    i found it very helpful to sit down and just read through the 1040 instruction booklet, line by line, entering the info I had, and making note of things that were confusing or papers i needed to find. it took me about 5 hours total (maybe 1 hour per evening, spaced throughout a week) to complete our federal and state taxes. the more you read the instructions, the easier it is to figure out which credits or deductions help the most, which is good to keep in mind for this new year.
    it is only february now, so if you take a chance on doing it yourself, and you get too stumped or overwhelmed, there’s plenty of time left to go buy a product to help you.
    don’t believe the hype that you ‘need’ a certain product to do things for you – at least be willing to get your mind churning a little, before asking for help.

  • Christina says:

    I have used Tax Act online for at least 10 years! It’s great!

  • angela says:

    Check with any organizations you are a part of, any clubs, unions, etc.
    Also check with your creditors – like Statefarm, they offer Turbo Tax Deluxe free.

    Also check on the IRS website, they have a huge list of free companies & agencies.

    Also check locally. I know I live in Cleveland there are organizations in local towns that do free tax prep on certain days or hours.

    Also, you can go to any local IRS office.

  • Courtney says:

    I’m only adding my two cents since my husband is a CPA and does personal taxes. He thinks TurboTax and other do it yourself software is fine, as long as you realize “garbage in, garbage out”. In other words, take your time and carefully go through your return. I know that paying someone to do your taxes seems like an unreasonable expense, but they do have expertise and knowledge that could help you out (and they can even give you tips on how to save on taxes in the future). So if you have an even remotely “complicated” return, I think it might be worth the investment to make sure it’s done right.

  • Carrie says:

    We do our taxes every year at our local library. The AARP come to the library and it is all free and you can have them direct deposit it into your checking. Check around you never know!

  • TONYIA says:

    Taxfreedom.com is a turbotax sponsored website that is free if you meet certain qualifications (income, active duty military, or qualify for EIC). Check it out!

  • Jennifer says:

    WOW. I love you ladies. I just did taxact.com after reading all these comments. $13.95 for the whole shebang! I can’t believe I spent $200 last year!

  • Marianne says:

    Sorry if this has already been mentioned, but I see many people paying to file their state taxes. MOST states offer a FREE filing option on their website. NJ offers a web-based e-file option that is completely free. I intend on using TaxAct to file my federal taxes for free and my state web-file to file my state taxes for free. You just can’t beat free! 🙂

  • Meredith B says:

    We used the free turbo tax software online, without any problems. Our income is over $50K and we have mortgage deductions and charitable deductions…and it worked fine. Last year we couldn’t use the free programs, but this year worked great. We even efiled our state return for free too (in VA).

  • Mrs. S says:

    Thanks so much to everyone for the info on TaxAct.com. I had already entered my tax info online at TurboTax and was prepared to e-file and pay $19.95. I input my info into TaxAct.com just for the heck of it, mostly to see if the refund amount came to the same as TurboTax. TaxAct was more! TurboTax missed a tax credit for saving into my 401k! So, I got an additional $308 refund and didn’t have to pay the $19.95 fee I would’ve paid with TurboTax.

  • Krista says:

    A note about state taxes – I was originally planning to pay a little more to file our state taxes through the same software we used for our federal, but just before filing I decided to check out the state government web page for tax information. (We live in Maryland.) The government website offered free e-filing of our state taxes ANNNNND… when I did it that way it turned out there was a BIG deduction that the software missed! I was about to pay for the state tax filing PLUS extra tax without that deduction! So I would definitely check your state’s government web page first.

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