Is there anything more hated than taxes? And possibly even more than taxes, paying just to file your taxes.
There are plenty of options to file your federal return, but finding services that will file state taxes without paying extra can be tough.
If you’re tired of paying to file your taxes, you’ll love these six free options for filing your state and federal forms.
A Few Things to Remember
First, and most important of all, remember that you get what you pay for. Free tax software just isn’t going to be as good as paid software; there will be fewer features, you’ll get less support, and in most cases you won’t be able to file anything other than the simplest of returns. That’s just how it is.
Second, this list is current as of November 2015. Some companies change their offerings on a yearly basis, and if this list becomes outdated, we’ll try to make changes so that it’s current. But if you see a site that’s no longer offering free state returns, or has different requirements, that’s why.
Finally, remember that big-name companies like TurboTax and H&R Block have been doing this for decades, and that their years of experience means they’re really great at finding potential deductions and filing quickly. While using a lesser-known website doesn’t mean that you’ll miss out on things, if you want to make sure that everything about your return is perfect, you may want to go with a big name (which often means you’ll need to pay).
With that out of the way, let’s get onto the free tax software!
A newcomer to the field, DIY Tax offers totally free federal and state tax returns with no catch. There are a number forms that can be used (including the important part of 1099-MISC for contractors and freelancers), making this a more versatile option than many others out there.
A Premium option is available, though there’s no indication anywhere on the website of what’s included in Premium that’s not in the free account, making it difficult to say whether or not that might be useful. Even so, this is definitely one of the simplest, most straightforward, and totally free tax-filing options.
With one of the biggest names in tax preparation, you can be confident that TurboTax will give you the information and tools you need to get your returns filed quickly. And with the Federal Free Edition, you can file both your federal and state taxes electronically without paying a dime.
You’ll need to be doing a fairly simple return, using forms 1040EZ or 1040A. If you’re doing anything more complicated than that, like taxes for the self-employed, a paid service will be required.
Also, the TurboTax website does state that “Fees may apply” for the state return, but doesn’t say when these fees might apply or what they would be. On the other hand, you do get free email tax support, which could be very helpful if you’re a first-time filer or you have questions about your return.
While the “Free” edition of H&R Block’s online tax filing system requires you to pay $30 for a state return, the Basic edition, which is also free, offers free state returns. Why the confusing naming conventions? I have no idea. But it’s not easy to find a site that will let you file both federal and state for free, and H&R Block has a great reputation for being a good company to file your taxes with, both from a usability and reliability standpoint.
Plus, you get free email and phone support, so you can get an answer to your question right away with a single call.
The free edition of TaxAct will work for you if you have a “simple return;” a quick look at the available forms shows the 1040A, 1040EZ, and a few other basics, though it is missing the 1099-MISC that many freelancers will need.
Despite this stipulation, TaxAct does offer free filing of both federal and state returns, though it does say “Pay when you file,” inviting speculation that there could be some hidden fees in certain cases.
Also included with the free edition is tax support via email, so you can get answers to any questions you have from the TaxAct support team. And TaxAct’s price lock guarantee means that once you register, the price won’t change.
With a rather uninspiring name and a website that looks like it was created in the 90s, you might pass over OnLine Taxes, but don’t discount it immediately: if your adjusted gross income is between $13,000 and $60,000, you’re eligible to file both your federal and state returns for free.
And if you don’t qualify, you only pay $7.95 for each, which is a pretty great deal. OLT also provides free email support every day of the week during tax season, and they let you file amended returns for free if you filed the first return with them. You can use a wide range of tax forms, including 1099-MISC and just about anything else you might need.
A program run by the United Way in conjunction with H&R Block, MyFreeTaxes will let you file both federal and state taxes for free if you make less than $62,000.
The site also helps you get organized by providing a tax preparation checklist as well as information on tax extensions, ITIN for immigrants, and credits/deductions. Because it’s a newcomer to the business, it doesn’t have as many reviews as other sites, but the fact that it’s powered by H&R Block should inspire confidence in the convenience and security of the service.
If You Don’t Quality for the Free Options
While a significant portion of people will be able to use one of the free websites above, there will certainly be some who can’t for one reason or another. For those people, here are a few other sites that you can check out. FreeTaxUSA offers free federal filing and $12.95 per state return, which is one of the lowest prices that you’ll find anywhere. eSmartTax lets you file federal returns for free, and charges $22.95 per state, which is still pretty reasonable.
Don’t Pay for What You Can Get for Free
If you have a relatively simple tax return, you should be able to get both federal and state filing for free, and these six websites will help you do it. As long as you’ve kept up with your accounting throughout the year, it should be no problem at all. So don’t pay for what you can get free!
Which sites do you use to file your taxes? Did we miss any free or affordable sites in this list? Share your favorites below and help other taxpayers save some money next year!
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