“I love paying taxes!” Said no one ever.
Regardless of how you feel about paying taxes, you have to pay them or the IRS will come knocking. Fines and even jail time could await you if things get bad enough. That’s not a pleasant scenario.
For many people, the only thing worse than paying taxes is figuring out how much you have to pay. This can lead to late nights, pulling out your own hair, and a general disruption of your life.
Of course, you can always pay an accountant to do them for you. Sometimes that can even save you money. But if you have a simpler tax situation you might not recoup that investment.
Aren’t there any cheap ways to file taxes?
There are! It might take a bit of research but you can find free or cheap ways to file taxes depending on your situation. Check out 10 of these resources here.
1. IRS Paper Forms
Do you like doing things the old-fashioned way? There’s something nostalgic about putting a pen to real paper to get things done. It’s also a free way to do your taxes. Well, minus the cost of postage, that is.
You can find the appropriate forms on the IRS website or at federal agencies like the post office or library.
The obvious disadvantage to this method is that you’ll need to have at least a basic understanding of how to fill out tax forms. It’s a bit more complicated than fun, interactive software that asks you simple questions and then fills out the appropriate boxes.
Most software also lets you know about deductions and credits you may qualify for. So by saving money on filing, you could lose out big on your taxes in general.
If your taxes are similar to last year’s, you can use your return as a guide to make things easier on yourself.
2. Free File
One step up from the paper forms is to use the Free File Fillable Forms on the IRS website. It’s still just filling out the appropriate forms but with the convenience of doing it online. There’s also basic instructions and guidance, which is helpful for non-tax experts.
Once you’ve filled them out you can file online for free, thus saving yourself the postage of the previous option. The handy thing about this method is that there are no income restrictions for the free version. Many software companies only offer their free version to people who make under a certain amount.
3. Free File Alliance
If you made less than a certain amount ($64,000 in 2017) you can take advantage of the Free File Alliance. On the IRS website, you’ll find a list of alliance members and the various options they offer. Many have certain age or state restrictions you have to meet to use their software.
If you qualify for one of the options you can file both state and federal taxes for free.
Now let’s start taking a look at the various tax software available. Most tax software is very simple to use and takes the frustration out of figuring out your taxes. Usually, they will also suggest deductions or credits that you may qualify for which can save you a bundle.
Let’s talk about one of the biggest names in the business first, TurboTax. Chances are if you’ve ever heard of tax software, you’ve heard of TurboTax.
They advertise far and wide that you can e-file your taxes for free. And it’s true– if you fall into a certain category of taxpayers. However, for the majority of people TurboTax is not really free.
That being said, their prices are very reasonable and might just be worth saving the time and frustration of doing your taxes yourself. However, if you’re going to have to pay, there are cheaper options.
Even if you fall under the income limit for TurboTax’s free version, if your taxes are at all complicated you won’t be able to use it. Some of the things that are considered “complicated” is having unreported tip income, working for yourself, or owning a health savings account.
In those cases, it may be cheaper to turn to an option like TaxSlayer. For less than half of what TurboTax charges you can get access to software for more complicated tax situations.
If you get stuck you can search the knowledgebase for answers to common questions.
If you want an option that offers handy mobile access, try TaxAct. You can get free mobile apps for both Android and IOS devices. But using the free version will work best if you have a very simple tax situation.
If you do have to pay, this is also an extremely affordable option. The ranges are different between TaxSlayer and TaxAct so it depends on what category you fall into as to which option will be cheaper for your particular situation.
Through this service, you can get both phone and email support to help you answer any of your tax questions.
7. H&R Block
H&R Block is another big name up there with TurboTax. Their system is also simple and easy to use and may offer a better deal for your tax situation. Their prices tend to be slightly less than TurboTax if you find that you’ll have to pay.
They are a member of the Free File Alliance so if you meet their restrictions you may be able to file both federal and state taxes for free.
More Cheap Ways to File Taxes
Taxes can be a major headache and nobody likes the idea of paying an expensive tax accountant. Thankfully, these are only a few of the cheap ways to file taxes that are available.
If you’re going to have to hand over a portion of your income to the government, at least you can make the process inexpensive and less painful.
To learn how to make that tax savings grow through investing, check out this great post!