If there’s one thing I regret about my experience with taxes, it’s that I didn’t take the opportunity to file for free using tax software while I could. I actually filled out the forms manually, very carefully, every year from 14 through 21. Once I was 21, I got married and wasn’t looking forward to filing (it was a complicated year for being employed). But after winning a free copy of H&R Block’s Tax Cut last year (thanks Queercents!), I realized how easy tax software is to use.
The good news? You may still qualify, at least for free federal e-file. And once you’ve done federal taxes, state taxes are much easier.
So here’s the skinny. If you want to file for free, you can get an entire list of groups that’ll help you here on the IRS’s website. The list includes details of what each group will do. You have to have earned under $56,000 and be under 55 years old to qualify for most of them. There are a few who don’t have age restrictions listed (I don’t know if they still restrict based on age.
Among lesser-known companies, you’ll see bigger names such as TurboTax. Turbo Tax’s Federal Freedom Edition offers free federal tax preparation and e-file if your Adjusted Gross Income is $30,000 or less or you are active military or you qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit. Includes Form 982 (Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief).
One of the college students at my workplace told me yesterday that he used TurboTax’s Federal Freedom package to get his federal taxes done in 15 minutes. Doing his state taxes was easy after that. I’ll admit a great deal of jealousy.
If you earned less than $56,000 (and are under 50), you can use another brand-name, TaxCut, to file your federal taxes for free. It also includes Form 982.
There may be reasons you’re not eligible…my running a sole proprietorship makes the whole situation a lot messier. This year I think we need a professional. But if your jobs are simple, your income is represented on a W-2 or two, and you meet the criteria, then go for it! If you turn out not to qualify, you can always back out and either buy the advanced software or use another method.