Filing your taxes can be very intimidating. There are all these different forms and questions that can be confusing. For years, people relied on accountants to guide them through the process. With the advent of the internet, websites have cropped up to make it easy (or at least easier) to do it yourself. Having kids makes filing a little more complicated, though, with deductions, child care credits, tuition credits, and other costs involved. So to get some help, here are some of the best websites for parents to file taxes at.
Part of the challenge to filing your taxes online by yourself is both finding the time to do it, and finding a website that is easy to use. There are a few things to consider when getting started. If you earn less than $66,000 per year, you can file your taxes for free with the IRS, according to their site. If you live in a state with a state income tax, you need to make sure the program you choose includes state forms. For many of the websites that promote free tax return filing, only the federal return is free. Typically there is a charge to file the state tax return. Many sites also offer different levels of service, at escalating prices, depending on how complicated your return will be, as well as different levels of support access (email, live online chat, telephone, etc.).
Before you start your search, think realistically about what you need from a site. Are you a small business owner? Independent contractor? Do you have investment income? Most sites will ask these questions to determine which of their plans might work best for you. Determine your budget, too. Most sites have plans that come in well under $100 (and many are less than $50). Be warned, the description of these sites often sound similar, making it hard to choose. So it might be worth it to set up an account for the free services and poke around a little to get a feel for the user experience.
Don't be afraid to use these sites. Most are very user-friendly, and if you're confused, you can reach out to their support team to ask a question. Take a deep breath and jump in — you got this!
Receiving consistently high reviews, Turbo Tax offers the ability to file a 1040EZ or 1040A for free. They also allow you to do your state return for free in many circumstances. However, if you want to itemize your deductions for child care, donations, etc. you may want to take advantage of their paid packages for federal and state filing.
Just go to the site, click on the basics you need, and let them recommend a plan. Turbo Tax allows you to take a photo of your W2 for easy filing help. They appear to be offering discounted rates right now, so your fees would range from $40 to $150. The $150 version offers you live contact with a certified public accountant, including their review of your return.
There are over 260,000 customer reviews on their site, with the majority of them being very positive. This site seems like the most frequent go-to for home tax preparers, receiving strong reviews from Top Ten Reviews (who awarded it a Gold Medal), The Simple Dollar, and PC Magazine, where moms called it "reliable" and "easy to use".
The free service from the credit-monitoring website Credit Karma will help you file your taxes, including itemizing deductions, tuition credits, and other details. If you used Turbo Tax, H&R Block, or TaxAct last year, you can easily import your info into the Credit Karma site or you can take a pic of your W2, upload it, and let the program autofill the info.
There is live online support available 24/7. This one was recommended on PC Magazine's site, with praise for its "clean, simple interface" but concern that it was missing information for Georgia and New Mexico (which they say are coming soon) and that the support was spotty.
If you're wondering what's in it for them, the Credit Karma website says that as they work with you, it will enable them to be able to determine what services you might need in the future and to have links to those businesses, which they get money from when you click. There's no obligation to buy any of those services, but you may be marketed to.
Tax Slayer has a variety of service tiers. Prices range from free (if you are filing a 1040 EZ) to $55, which includes filing a state return also. They promote themselves as easy-to-use and offer support via email and telephone. Some plans include audit assistance, should that become a factor. Tax Slayer claims 100 percent accuracy, with a built-in error finding feature and will also import your information from past returns. While it received good reviews from PC Magazine, they also mentioned that the interface was not the easiest to navigate.
This website has free filing for anyone who is only filing the 1040EZ or 1040A. Should you need more, their paid packages are less than $100 and vary depending on the type of return you need to file (itemized deductions, self-employed, small business, etc).
Tax Act has a $100,000 accuracy guarantee, which means that if the return is not done accurately and you don't receive your maximum refund, they will "refund your software costs and pay any difference in your lower refund or higher tax liability, plus cover any legal or audit costs up to $100,000," their site claimed.
PC Magazine named it an Editor's Choice, commending its "affordable, reliable personal tax preparation tools that support all major tax scenarios" along with "its excellent support."
The H&R Block franchise has been a mainstay of tax preparation for years. They have brick and mortar offices and also offer online preparations. Like several of the other sites, there is no fee to file a 1040EZ or a 1040A. They have also added no fee if you are filing a 1040A with a Schedule A. For anything more complicated, prices start at $35 and go up to $75 for federal returns, with an additional $37 for state returns.
The program assists you with maximizing your deductions and pulling in prior information, and they offer unlimited phone and email support should you have any questions. The Simple Dollar found their program easy to use and admired their support system (email, telephone, or face-to-face in an office).
Free Tax USA
Free Tax USA offers free filing for most federal returns, with a $13 charge to file state returns. They offer a Deluxe package, which costs $7 for your federal return and includes live chat support and audit assistance, if needed. There are additional services at additional costs.
Free Tax will take into account almost every possible deduction, including investment income, small business expenses, alimony and child support. Nerd Wallet likes this one for people who have some idea of what they are doing and don't need much engineered for them.
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