By this point in time, there’s probably nothing keeping you from filing your taxes. And while you may have done them before, there’s likely a better way. Let us explain.
Odds are, you either go to a tax place like H&R Block or using an online software service like Turbo Tax. You probably get a free federal filing, with a small fee, $45 or so, for filing tax. They make some money, you get your taxes done. It works, sure. But it can be better.
Maybe it’s not THAT easy. Maybe you have a small business, or you are a self-employed freelancer. And your preferred tax filer says that it costs extra.
Did you know that the IRS has a system for both finding tax preparation services and for how to file them yourself with relative ease, both for free? To make it even better, they have a program called the IRS Free File Program that guarantees the process will be free for certain people?
If you make less than $72,000 a year, you qualify for the IRS Free File Program. This means you can have a program or service file your taxes (or help you file them) for free for both federal and state taxes. The IRS website even provides a portal to find which service will provide the most help. You can find that here.
But what if you make over $72,000? You can still file for free. It just takes a bit of manual work. The IRS website itself offers a system to create your tax return forms. You put in the information it asks for and it will generate the forms for you. You can then submit the forms electronically. The main catch, aside from being more work for yourself, is that it doesn’t include state tax filing. You can find more information about that here.
Honestly, this is more for the Free File folk. If you make more than $70k a year, you can probably afford to pay for a service to handle the taxes for you. What’s $45 once a year when you pull in $1,300 a week?
They Try To Hide It
The main problem, and the reason we’re saying something, is because many of these tax filing programs don’t want you to know about the Free File option. They want to get that $45 fee from as many people as they can. As such, they often find deceptive ways to confuse or hide the IRS Free File option. For example: Turbo Tax Free File is NOT the IRS option, but their base option, which charges you for State Filing. The IRS option was called Freedom File, and you had to manually search for it to find it. They changed it to IRS Free File option, which is still confusing.
If you qualify and want to ensure you’re getting the IRS Free File option from a service, be sure to use the search system provided on the IRS website.
Take advantage of these options if you can. If we have to pay taxes, they might as well make it easy for us.