Free or Cheap Tax Preperation for State and Federal Taxes

Tax-Refunds-Promotion-CostumeYou may be like me and dreading tax time because your papers aren’t in order or a huge bill is looming. There is some hope out there if you’re worried about shelling out extra money to pay for tax preparation software, there may be a free option. Taxpayers who earned less than $58,000 last year can access the IRS’s Free File program and prepare and e-file federal tax returns online at no charge.

70% of American taxpayers actually meet this requirement and you can file with companies such as H&R Block and TurboTax. Each company is different and some set lower income levels and have age and location requirements. To avoid these restrictions, filers can opt for “value-added” versions of the software that aren’t part of the Free File program including free e-filing for federal returns, but they push paid upgrades and features.

Keep in mind there is normally a cost for state filing. Check your local state tax services because a state free file program does exist for many states.

Listed below are four providers with Free File service, including state tax preparation at low or no cost at all. Two of these top picks provide the full package for less than $15.

H&R Block requires taxpayers to be under 52 years old and have an income of $58,000 or less to use the Free File edition of the company’s software. Free state filing is included for residents of 21 states and DC; it costs $14.99 otherwise. The H&R Block Free Edition charges $27.99 for state filing. H&R Block is a well known brand and has a great reputation so that gives much piece of mind.

FreeTaxUSA extends its Free File offer to taxpayers between 17 and 75 who made less than $58,000 and live in states with income tax. State tax returns cost $12.95. Great thing about this service is it can help self-employed, those who have dependents, own a home, or have capital gains to report when other software providers charge a premium to filers who need that support.

eSmart Tax is the online tax preparation software associated with Liberty Tax Service. Its Free File version is open to 18- to 54-year-olds with income of $58,000 or less. ESmart Tax also has a free Basic Edition without these restrictions. Both allow only simple returns with no itemized deductions or dependents which is a major downside and charge $19.95 for state filing.

TaxAct offers the Free File option to taxpayers who made $52,000 or less and fall between the ages of 18 and 57. State taxes filings are free in 19 states plus DC otherwise they cost $14.99.

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