Tax filing can be hectic. If you make a mistake, you can miss out on money-saving opportunities and even get into trouble with the government. Although you can submit returns by yourself, there are several free and paid programs to ease your burden. All you have to do is gather the necessary documents and start filing.
Free File: File Your Taxes for Free
Free File is a collaboration between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and tax preparation companies. However, the IRS doesn’t endorse individual partner companies. Rather, Free File upholds the interests of the Federal government and taxpayers by balancing collaboration and joint responsibility. The service includes the following options:
- Guided Tax Preparation: You qualify for this service if your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is $73,000 and below. Provided you meet these parameters, you can file taxes free on an IRS partner website.
- Free File Fillable Forms: These electronic tax documents are equivalent to physical 1040 forms. You can use this option if your AGI is more than $73,000.
You don’t have to worry about information safety with Free File. For starters, partner companies cannot use or reveal tax information without your consent. Moreover, the site doesn’t use permanent cookies. Free File may use temporary cookies to verify a recipient’s information, but the records disappear after your internet session.
Alternatives to Filing Your Taxes
Whether it’s your first time or you’ve been filing taxes for years, submitting returns is so much easier with the right software. However, Free File isn’t the only tax-preparation software. Others include:
This program comes with different tax products including business and self-employment tax preparation. You can also choose between business and home bundles depending on your tax situation. Although TaxAct allows free tax filing, you can unlock premium features by paying for expert help. This way, you work with professionals such as certified public accountants, IRS-approved agents, and tax attorneys.
If you choose the free version, you can access basic services like filing a form 1040, claiming an income tax credit, and submitting student loan interest. However, you need to upgrade your plan to enjoy specialized features such as itemized deductions. You’ll also love the ease of use. The TurboTax interface shows where you are in the tax process and what you need to finish. Furthermore, the program has embedded links and explainers for further guidance.
This platform stands out for several reasons. The first one is pricing. Though it has paid packages, the free plan offers numerous capabilities. For instance, you can submit schedules 3 and 1 for Form 1040. You can also reconcile advanced child credit and claim absent stimulus payments. Similarly, H&R Block lets you switch between providers. All you have to do is upload the previous year’s files from another software. You could also auto-import tax forms from your employer instead of inputting numbers manually.
Hire an Expert
Feel free to hire a tax preparer if you need more help. Although they also utilize software, tax professionals offer a human touch to the filing process. Besides saving time, financial experts offer tax advice while reducing errors. Whether you make calculation mistakes or input the wrong details, tax errors could cost you a tax refund and invite IRS audits.
You can meet the tax preparer in person or share your information online. However, remember to verify the professional’s credibility—you can ask about the preparer’s training, licenses, and experience before sending your documents. You could also seek referrals from your circle.
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