Still looking for an affordable e-filing solution for your taxes? The finance blog FiLife “tested every one of the free tax filing services available through the IRS’ Free File program, then posted the results in a detailed, easy-to-read comparison chart.
The evaluation criteria were ease of use, the amount of tax information and assistance provided, the cost for filing a state return, and accuracy. FiLife ended up choosing eight services as their “top picks”—”[they] guided us through life events from the past year and helped us figure out which forms we needed to file. They asked us questions that we didn’t even know we needed to answer. Best of all, they used language that we understood. And we never had a technical snafu.”
Notably, all but two of the services charge for filing a state return, and the fees can range from $7.95 to $29.95. Below, we’ve bolded the only two services that offer free state returns if that’s something you need.
FiLife’s top eight picks:
- eSmartTax by Liberty Tax Service
- Free TaxACT
- H&R Block
- TaxSlayer Free Returns.com
- Turbo Tax
Just as important, here are the ones FiLife categorizes as “Avoid if You Can”: “These software programs caused us frustration and pain due to technology issues, confusing tax forms, and late admissions that our tax forms could not be supported.”
- Free Tax Return
- Free1040 Tax Return
- Tax$imple Deluxe Version
Not every person can qualify for every service, so if you decide to check one of these out, we suggest you go to the IRS’ Free File page, find out which services you qualify for, then cross-reference them against the FiLife chart to pick the one you like best.
FiLife has another helpful bit of advice if you really want to save money:
If the software of your choice doesn’t provide your state’s tax forms or charges a lot for it, you can still use its service as a sort of trial run. For instance, we like H&R Block’s site a lot. But its $29.95 fee for filing a state-tax return is absurd.
So here’s the workaround: Use H&R Block’s software to get familiar with the terms and figures you’ll need to input and the forms you’ll need to use. But don’t use Block to file either your state or federal return. Instead, once you’ve used its software as a worksheet, in effect, use a site that offers a better deal to actually file your returns. Take it from someone who prepared her taxes six times this year: It gets easier and faster the more you do it.
Note: To qualify for Free File, your adjusted gross income for 2007 must be $54,000 or less, and you must access your selected service via the Free File website.
Free File [IRS]