Last year was my third full year of blogging, and as such will be my third year with a tax situation that will be a little bit more complicated than it is for some. I'll have side income to report, as well as having to pay estimated taxes throughout the year. In fact I just paid my last estimated tax payment of the year a week and a half ago.
The last couple of years I've thought about going to a CPA just because my tax situation has become so much more complex, and I want to make sure that I get the most of my deductions, and that I'm not missing anything. I just don't want to pay the big fees though. Luckily, there are a lot of great tax software out there that make it a whole lot easier for the average Joe to file their taxes, and still make the most of their deductions.
If you file your own taxes I suggest using a software like TurboTax and e-file to send in your taxes. Your tax return will be processed a lot faster than if you send in a paper tax return. You can also get a refund in as little as 8 days with e-file, but it can take a month or more to receive a refund via check.
Also, if you met certain income restrictions in 2010, you can file your federal taxes for free!
Can I File My 2010 Tax Return For Free?
The IRS has a Free File program that allows you work with a number of tax preparation software companies in order to get free tax preparation. What are the requirements?
- You have to have an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $58,000 or less in 2010. That applies to both single and married filing joint filers. Some free-file companies may have lower AGI requirements, however.
- Other eligibility criteria may include: age, state, eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit, and military status.
Some of the companies will have a lower AGI threshold than others, but in general most will offer free e-file along with having a free tax preparation option. The IRS gives a quick rundown:
Each participating company sets its own eligibility requirements and not all taxpayers will qualify for all companies. Individual company offers may be limited by AGI, geographic location, specific states and include other criteria, so it's important to review the criteria before you choose
Where Can I File My Taxes For Free?
There are a lot of companies where you can file your federal taxes for free. Below I'll list some of the best ones that I recommend.
NOTE: The required maximum AGI and other eligibility requirements for free filing will vary from company to company.
Click on the company name to start your return for free -regardless of income!
Free File Options
TurboTax Free Edition – TurboTax is one of the better known names in tax preparation, and the company that I’ll be using this year. They offer:
- FREE preparation, FREE printing, FREE efiling for your simple tax return
- Guides you like a GPS through your simple tax return
- Double-checks your return to make sure it’s accurate
CompleteTax Free – Complete Tax offers a free file option, and I’ve heard from others that the software works pretty well:
- 1040EZ Federal form only
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
- Single, and Married Filing Jointly filing status
- No children or dependents
H & R Block at Home Free Edition– H & R Block took the Tax Cut software and rebadged it in their H & R Block at Home Free Edition. They offer the following with their free file service:
- Step-by-step guidance
- Double-checks for errors and guaranteed accurate.
- Easy for first-time users
- Ability to add state program
- 1 federal e-file
Tax Act Online Free Edition –2nd Story Software Another great tax software that I've heard great things about. Free federal filing, and add state for only $17.95!
- Prepare, Print & E-file FREE for Everyone!
- Get your maximum refund guaranteed
- FREE e-mail and audit support
- Prepare, Print, & E-file for Free
- Free Email Support
- Quick and Easy to Use
- Maximize your Refund
QuickTax Free Online Edition – QuickTax is my token Canadian option I’ll mention for our friends to the North. Their software offers:
- Free support by email
- No downloads and no software to install – do your taxes in your Web browser
- Your info is totally safe! QuickTax uses the same security features major banks do
Do you have your own tax software that you prefer to these options? Tell us which one you use in the comments!