Filing your tax returns is a major pain. Many people hire an accountant or someone else to do their taxes but many of us do them on our own. I’ll be doing mine, again, this year by myself. However, unlike last year, I’ll probably use some tax software to make the process easier and more accurate. I’ll probably use Intuit’s TurboTax if for no other reason than I’m more familiar with the Intuit brand for simple to use software.
The New York times has a great overview of some FREE tax preparation services/software and fee based ones.
The NYT writes But millions of taxpayers who earn modest incomes and have simple returns to file may want to consider using the Free File program from the Internal Revenue Service instead of buying off-the-shelf software. Established three years ago, Free File is a partnership of the I.R.S. and private tax preparation sites that typically allows taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of around $50,000 or less to complete their returns electronically ¬? free.
But you will not be alerted to this program if you visit the individual Web sites of the Free File partners, which include giants like TurboTax and TaxCut.
Instead, you have to go first to www.irs.gov. There, you will see a prominent link to the Free File site. And once you pick a tax preparation service, the I.R.S. will link you to Free File.
What if you earn too much to qualify for the program?
In that case, taxpayers with simple returns might consider a free program like TaxAct Standard, a bare-bones offering that you can download onto your PC or use on the Web. Although there is a charge of $12.95 to buy the corresponding state program, the combined price for the most basic level of TaxAct is still cheaper than the most basic online tools offered by TurboTax and TaxCut. (It is confusing, but the same companies that sell boxed tax programs also provide Web-based tools under the same names.)
If you have a relatively complicated return ¬? for instance, one that requires you to seek help in determining how certain capital gains should be treated or whether certain home-office deductions are legitimate ¬? the traditional off-the-shelf programs are likely to be a better bet.
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