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file taxes online freeIt’s everyone’s favorite time of year! If you are a taxpayer in the US, you should have already started receiving your W-2s, 1099’s, and other important tax forms in the mail. Filling your taxes can be a chore if done 100% manually. TaxACT makes it much easier to file your taxes online or on your PC and it’s absolutely free.

TaxACT offers you the choices for filing your federal return. You can either do it online or with a free downloadable version. To file tax return online, just visit TaxACT and click the Start Free Return button.

TaxACT-file tax return online

If you would rather download the program and do it locally on your computer, you can visit the TaxACT 2008 software page. The downloadable version is only available for Windows, so if you are on OS X or Linux you’ll have to use the online version. The downloadable version is about a 12.6MB download.

The online and downloadable versions of TaxACT work very similarly. Both will go through a simple, albeit lengthy interview process. US tax forms tend to read much like computer programming languages, but TaxACT simplifies the process by asking simple questions in plain English.

If you do happen to be a computer programmer or perhaps you still prefer to do things the old fashioned way, you can directly input information into the actual tax forms with the downloadable version.  Just click on the Forms button just below the menu bar. You’ll see a list of every tax form in a tree on the left side, and you can select which ever one you want to use.

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free tax filing software

The online version also has a forms button, but it works a little differently.  When you click the Forms List button on the online version, you’ll see a tree similar to what you see in the downloadable version.  Once you select a form, you have the option to print it or review it.  When you click Review, TaxACT online takes you to the point in the interview that pertains to that particular tax form.

Forms-List-Button-Online-TaxACT

Both the downloadable and online versions offer a free e-File option. e-File is a safe, fast, and easy way to file your tax return. I’ve been doing it pretty much as long as it has been offered and have since never done it any other way.  Using e-File and requesting your refund via direct deposit is the fastest way to get your refund.

If you prefer not to e-File, you can simply print out the tax forms and mail them in.  One thing I find somewhat odd is that the free downloadable version will allow you to print the return, but it will not output to a PDF (the downloadable pay versions will output to PDF).  However, the online version generates a PDF for you to print out.  If you want a PDF of your return and you’re using the free downloadable version, you can use PDF Creator or some other cool PDF tools Cool PDF Tools Cool PDF Tools Read More to save your return to a PDF.

TaxACT also offers pay versions (Deluxe for $9.95 and Ultimate for $16.95).  If you want to use it to file your state return as well, you’ll have to purchase the Ultimate version.  If you’re like me and are fortunate enough to live in a state without state income taxes, you don’t have to worry about filing a state return.

So what’s the catch?  Well, when you’re ready to file your federal return next year, TaxACT will offer you the convenience of importing your info from the previous year’s return. I used TaxACT for free the first year I used it.  However, in subsequent years my apathy for doing my taxes got the best of me and I have since been paying to import my info from the prior years.

TaxACT is a great and simple way to do your own taxes for free. What free software do you use to fill your tax return?

  1. Bret
    February 9, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    TaxACT is great, but you WILL have to pay to access your prior year returns. That is, if you use the service this year and want to use it again next year, you'll have to enter this year's data all over again or pay like 12 bucks to have them input the data for you.

  2. Busychickn
    February 7, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    One teeny little thing that was also fun about TaxAct - Instead of having to go back online a day or two later to find out of your taxes were received/accepted, you can also opt to receive a text message update. Great for those who don't live in their inboxes.

  3. Wishing in IL
    February 7, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    It's great there are so many free software and online options out there for efiling your federal return for free.

    My biggest frustration is that there is hardly anything is available for efiling state returns for free.

    If you're unemployed like me, or on a fixed income, etc, and watching every single cent, that's a big deal. Not all of us are lucky enough to live in states that don't require the filing of state returns.

    I've finally found out I can efile my state return for free online with my state's IRS site; but that means I can't just automatically transfer all the info over from my federal return. I usually use the Turbo Tax program, it's what I've always used; I like how it works and I trust it. My federal is free as long as I don't have an income of more than $30k; there are also a few other restrictions. But it's $10 to do my state return. I also don't have access to a printer at home, making it difficult to print out the info needed to do a manual transfer of the info to the state site where I can efile my state return for free.

    Also, I have found that you have to really read the fine print on the free federal ones, to be sure you qualify to efile for free; many sites have ceilings on age and income.

    One of my biggest wishes is for someone to design a website/program that lets you efile your state return (if you have to file one) for free no matter what state you live in, and no matter what your age or income; better yet would be for the govt to do away with state returns all together.

    I fear both wishes will be a long time coming.

    • Bret
      February 9, 2009 at 4:17 pm

      It may vary from state to state, but TaxACT filed my state returns in Idaho.

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