What the Tax Software Companies Dont Want You to Know

Haven't done your taxes yet? No problem. Now there is a new way you can use top tax software programs, like TurboTax and H&R Block, to get your taxes done quickly and easily. And the best part is it won't cost you a thing.

The secret is an IRS program called Free File, that allows you to prepare and file your federal tax return electronically, using these and dozens of other popular tax software programs, for free!

Free File has been around for a few years, but it used to have very stringent income requirements (i.e., only taxpayers whose incomes were below a certain level could use it). This year is the first time the service is being opened up to 99% of taxpayers.

Important: You must go through the IRS official web site in order to get this deal. Go to http://www.irs.gov and click on the link at the top of the home page that says Free File. (Note: It's not on the navigation bar. It's on the home page itself.)

Next, you'll want to click the gray button at the bottom of the page that says, "Start Now." At this point, you'll have the option of browsing all of the services offered or choosing to use the "Guide Me to a Service" wizard to help you select one. The wizard will ask you a few basic questions about your age and income and then come back with a list of companies whose free products meet your needs.

Why is the IRS doing this? In a nutshell, to save money. It's cheaper, faster and easier for them to process returns electronically.

Why should you do it? Because it's cheaper and easier to file, and you can get your refund faster.

Why are the big tax companies offering this deal? They're trying to get you to upgrade to one of their deluxe products, which offer things like tax planning advice, the ability to import data from software you used last year, etc.

Also, state tax programs are not included in this deal. So the companies probably figure that if you use their free federal program you'll end up buying their state one.

Remember: You must go through the IRS official web site in order to get this deal. If you go to the tax companies' sites, you will not get this offer. In fact, some of these companies not only charge you to do your return online, but then they'll also hit you with a fee once you try to file electronically. So you'll pay twice if you don't go through the IRS web site.

Happy tax preparing!

Stephanie Gallagher reveals her closely-guarded shopping secrets in her ezine, The Shopping Mom's Weekly Tip. Click here to get the eCookbooks Recipe Sampler Cookbook as a special gift when you subscribe: mailto: [email protected]

In The News:

Can countries lower taxes and raise revenues?  The EconomistRARELY has a dinner-table scribbling created such a legacy. In 1974 Arthur Laffer, an economist, sketched a simple diagram on the back of a napkin to illustrate ...
Tax body seeks extension of GST return filing by four months  Economic TimesTax payers and consultants are also required to keep in mind the hundreds of amendments and clarifications issued by the government since inception of GST ...
Tax foreign tech giants operating in India, say RSS ideologues, Gandhian  Business StandardThree Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologues, including K N Govindacharya, and a Gandhian have written to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to ...
Budget could set stage for a new-look Income-Tax Act  BusinessLinePanel on overhauling tax regime to present final report soon.
New income tax rules: No escape just by paying penalty  LivemintThe new guidelines kicked in from this Monday and applies to all cases for compounding received on or after June 17.The revised guidelines issued by the ...
Filing out a tax return for the first time? Here are seven important tips  Business StandardThere are many who find income tax calculation and filing to be a tough task. However, reading and learning about it can turn out to be a skill useful for a lifetime.
Electric Vehicles Could See Lower GST And Road Taxes  ZigWheels.comAs per a government draft notification, EVs belonging to all categories could also be exempted from road tax for registration.
Many people are moving from California to Texas  The EconomistThe cost of living, as well as high taxes and red tape, are precipitating the push.
India Incs advance tax mop-up surges 171% in Q1, Mumbai collection up 133%  Business StandardIndia Inc's advance tax figures grew exponentially by 171 per cent during the first quarter of 2019-20, prompting the tax authorities to say that the economy may ...
Govt may raise income-tax threshold in Budget to revive economy  BusinessLineThere is also a possibility of raising tax exemption under Section 80C from the existing ₹ 1.5 lakh.
12 documents you need to file your income tax return this year  Business StandardIncome tax return (ITR) filing season has begun for FY 2018-19. Don't wait for the last date to file your ITR i.e 31 July 2019, it is better to keep all the required ...
ITR filing: Income tax department makes disclosing LTCG from stocks, equity mutual funds simpler  LivemintThe Finance Bill 2018 reintroduced tax on LTCG made from listed shares and equity-oriented mutual fund.You only need to disclose the total LTCG from ...
Budget 2019: Hopes of tax exemption limit hike  Economic TimesHere are some expectations of the common man that the government could consider in the upcoming budget.
Shipping industry needs more to maximise the opportunities created by GST  Economic TimesIn a high-volume, low margin business like shipping, even a 5 percent cost disadvantage can dent the competiveness of domestic shipping businesses ...
Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposes law to allow same-sex couples to get tax refunds owed to them  CNBCSen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) reintroduced a bill that would allow married same-sex couples to file joint amended federal tax returns and collect refunds for ...
Budget 2019: Govt may ask 'loss-making' companies to pay tax  India TodayThe finance ministry is likely to propose a minimum amount of tax on loss-making companies in the upcoming budget or just after that. However, genuine ...
Corruption purge: 15 CBIC officials forced to retire  Economic TimesMore action was likely against errant officials as part of the governments drive to stop corruption.
How Santa Clara County will help seniors paying taxes they don't need to  San José SpotlightSchool districts in California don't require homeowners who are eligible for a parcel tax exemption to renew it every year, which means seniors over the age of ...
Filing income-tax returns? Here are the five key mistakes to avoid  Business StandardIndividuals and Hindu Undivided Families constitute almost 98 per cent of e-filers. This category tends to be most prone to making mistakes while filing returns.
GST Council meet on 21 June to focus on checking tax evasion  LivemintNEW DELHI: Goods and Services Tax Council, the federal indirect tax body, is set to take several decisions to curb tax evasion in its first meeting to be chaired ...
Netherlands pushes air travel tax for Europe  Deutsche WelleThe government of the Netherlands led a charge for a Europe-wide tax on jet fuel on Thursday as a two-day aviation conference opened in The Hague.
Colorado treats marijuana taxes like “a piggy bank.” But now top lawmakers want to limit spending to two areas.  The Colorado SunThere's so much suspicion around what we're doing with marijuana money." But Colorado budget writers want to change that perception and prioritize two areas ...
Opinion | Time for a global tax net for the internet  LivemintEven if an international consensus is hard to obtain on the taxation of digital services that make money off large user bases in countries like India, we should not ...
1st GST Council Meet under Modi 2.0: EVs may see tax cut, anti-profiteering body to get extension  Business TodayAmong other things, the GST Council will also consider issuance of e-invoice by entities with turnover of over Rs 50 crore for business-to-business (B2B) sales in ...
Cook County Chicago property taxes are about to soar  Crain's Chicago BusinessIf you're a single-family homeowner on the North Side or in the central area of Chicago, hang onto your wallet, because you're about to get clobbered.
European-owned mine paid Guatemala just £1.4m in compulsory royalty taxes  The GuardianSwiss-based Solway group that runs Fenix nickel mine paid 1% on revenues from unrefined ore.
Cut taxes to boost investments, growth, CII’s Kirloskar tells govt  LivemintThe Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) has called upon the government to lower a broad range of taxes to encourage equity investments by both individuals ...
Jobs, Veterans, Taxes: Fact Checking Trump's Speech at Orlando Rally  FortuneTrump officially opened his 2020 campaign Tuesday with a speech exaggerating what he's done for the economy and against illegal immigration.
Which salaried individuals can't file ITR-1 for FY2018-19  Economic TimesThere are certain cases where ITR-1 will not apply to salaried individuals for financial year 2018-19.
The Case for a Financial Transaction Tax  BloombergGovernments charge user fees for parks, roads and other infrastructure. Why not do the same for the financial system?
Joe Biden's Twitter fight with Amazon perfectly sums up the battle over America's new tax code  CNBC"I have nothing against Amazon, but no company pulling in billions of dollars of profits should pay a lower tax rate than firefighters and teachers," Biden says.
The Tampon Book, Which Protests Taxes on Menstrual Products, Wins PR Grand Prix at Cannes  AdweekBudweiser, McDonald's and Donate Life California win gold Lions.
N.J. Democrats Send Murphy Budget Without Millionaire’s Tax  BloombergNew Jersey's Democratic-led legislature approved a $38.7 billion budget that scraps Governor Phil Murphy's proposed millionaire's tax, raising the risk of a ...
Income-tax law does not consider all inherited assets as ancestral property  LivemintNot all properties that you inherit can be termed as ancestral property for tax purposes. Ancestral property is defined as one which a person inherits from any of ...
Jaitley gives 2-month extension to CBDT task force on direct tax code; panel to now submit report by July 31  Business TodayIn a meeting held with top finance ministry officials, Arun Jaitley on Friday gave the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) task force an extension of two months ...
Focus on direct tax reforms as panel set to submit report  Moneycontrol.comThe next thing that the people of India, who gave Narendra Modi his second full majority term, would be looking towards is reduced tax rates in the full Budget.
Council Adds Hundreds Of Lakeside Properties To City Of Austin Tax Rolls  KUTThe Austin City Council voted unanimously Thursday to add 400 lakeside properties onto the city's tax rolls.
Government mulls revival of estate duty, tax on cash transaction  The New Indian ExpressAs the revenue collection is still far below the expectation, the government is considering reintroduction of some taxes including Estate Tax.
Imran Khan follows PM Modi's footsteps, asks countrymen to pay taxes  India TodayPakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the countrymen to pay taxes and reminded them to take benefit of the 'last' Asset Declaration Scheme launched by ...
FinMin launches phase II of faceless tax assessment  BusinessLineAfter sacking senior IRS officers for corruption, the Finance Ministry has launched the second phase of faceless and jurisdiction-less income tax assessment of 1 ...
Uber says IRS probing its 2013-14 tax returns  LivemintThe U.S. Internal Revenue *Service* is auditing Uber Technologies Inc's taxes for 2013 and 2014 and the ride-hailing company expects unrecognized tax benefits ...
Budget wish list: Cos want tax holiday, customs duty exemption, GST cut on handset  Economic TimesThe industry has also sought a decade-long tax holiday on profits from manufacturing devices or parts in the country to stimulate *fresh* investments.
'Don’t skip taxation, inflation, loads while planning for retirement’  Economic TimesTalking to the participants at the ET wealth Investment Workshop, Billimoria said investors should work with real numbers.
Sitharaman-led First GST Council Meet to Decide on Tax Cut on E-vehicles, NAA Extension  News18New Delhi: The GST Council will on Friday consider slashing GST rate on electric vehicles to 5 per cent, from 12 per cent currently, along with an extension of ...
Income Tax returns deadline of July 31 likely to be postponed  Business TodayYou may get some more time to file your income tax returns in the current assessment year. The regular deadline of July 31 is expected to be pushed back this ...
Trump’s Tax Law Made Americans Less Charitable, Nonprofits Say  BloombergAmericans gave less money to charities last year partly because the Republican tax law changes made many people ineligible for tax breaks that can inspire ...
How to make full use of section 80D to save tax on health insurance?  Economic TimesHealth insurance is a necessity that can also help you save taxes. Generally, you can save tax on health insurance premium for a maximum of Rs 1 lakh in case ...
NDTV case: Delhi ITAT upholds long-term capital gains tax on Roys  BusinessLinePrannoy and Radhika Roy, Founders of NDTV, are facing a double whammy for a loan agreement with Viswapradhan Commercial Pvt Ltd (VCPL). After SEBI ...
Tax saving tips: Invest in real estate and save tax on LTCG  Business StandardInvestments in real estate are borne out of savings made out several years of earnings. These investments have both monetary value and emotional value for ...
Budget 2019 | Direct tax reforms – It’s a case of now or never!  Moneycontrol.comNaveen Aggarwal. Nineteen years into the 21st century and we are still following a tax law that is half a century old. A law that is now largely considered ...
Tipping Point: How can you claim tax benefit on a multi-year health policy?  Business StandardIf your health insurance is coming up for renewal, check with the insurer if it will accept premiums for two years or more. Usually, when you pay for two-three ...
New GST return forms to help authorities check tax evasion  LivemintNEW DELHI: Return forms proposed for the goods and services tax (GST) are set to put an end to one of the widely used methods for tax evasion—claiming ...
Budget 2019: Industry body seeks increase in minimum tax exemption limit for senior citizens  India TodayIndustry body Assocham has advocated tax measures to benefit senior citizens in the Union Budget, to be presented on July 5 by Finance Minister Nirmala ...
Against a Carbon Tax  National ReviewJohn Sweeeney argues on the homepage today for the U.S. to adopt a revenue-neutral carbon tax as part of a strategy of moving the world toward carbon taxes.
How tax efficiency varies across states  LivemintStudy shows that some states are more efficient in generating tax revenues than others.
How Silicon Valley Avoids Paying Taxes Using Small Biz Break  BloombergSilicon Valley has won big with a tax break aimed at small businesses.
How do you decide capital gains tax on property sale?  MoneycontrolSale/transfer of a house property triggers taxability of capital gains in the hands of a taxpayer, which can be either short-term or long-term in nature depending ...
Cannabis taxes brought in $186 million in five and a half months  Global NewsThe provinces are taking the lion's share of cannabis tax revenue, figures released today show.
IOC, HPCL to contest over ₹4,000-crore tax demand  LivemintThe Director-General of GST in Pune has slapped IOC with a tax demand of ₹4002 crore.Hindustan Petroleum has been asked to pay over ₹346 crore.
IRS 'Taxpayer Anxiety Index' may soon track Americans' tax-induced stress levels  Fox BusinessNational Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson said the IRS' taxpayer *service* is “woefully inadequate.”
Banks want current tax benefits extended to three-year deposits  Business StandardBanks have sought an extension of the current tax benefits on five-year deposits to three-year ones to attract medium-term liabilities and bring parity with ...
How much tax do you pay on your equity investments?  LivemintEquity as an asset class is an important portion of an investor's portfolio. However, tax rules vary for different types of equity instruments. For example, capital ...
Goods and services tax, a game changer? Not for home decor firms at least  LivemintAfter the goods and services tax (GST) was introduced in 2017, home decor companies were in the spotlight because plywood, laminate and ceramic tile ...
Industry seeks tax cuts, bold land, labour reforms from NDA  LivemintIndustry executives on Monday sought tax cuts, lower interest rates and bold reforms in land acquisition and labour laws in a blueprint prepared to aid the Modi ...
Viewpoint | Here's why you should file your income tax returns in time  Moneycontrol.comDivya Baweja, Divya Agarwal and Pooja Verma. Filing of income tax returns (ITR) is around the corner and authorities have already released the necessary ...
Budget 2019: Industry Body Calls For Raising Income Tax Slabs  NDTV NewsBudget 2019 expectations: FICCI has also called for abolishing surcharge for those who have total income above Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore.
G20 agrees to wrap up Big Tech tax rules by 2020  ReutersTOKYO (Reuters) - Group of 20 finance ministers agreed on Sunday to compile common rules to close loopholes used by global tech giants such as Facebook ...
New York Can Tell Congress Lots About Trump’s Taxes  The New York TimesHis state returns will give the House a glimpse of past I.R.S. audits, before and after he entered the Oval Office.
No taxes owed by GMR from $270-million arbitration award: Maldives  LivemintThe Maldivian government in 2017 had slapped a notice seeking $20.5 million.The arbitration ruling indemnified the Indian developer from any tax liabilities.
DOJ releases legal opinion supporting Treasury refusal to turn over Trump tax returns  CNNThe Justice Department released Friday a new legal opinion supporting the Treasury secretary's refusal to hand over President Donald Trump's tax returns.
Digital giants face tax setback after G20 agreement  Financial TimesMinisters pledge new rules by 2020 that will ensnare groups like Facebook and Google.
Filing Income Tax Returns? Avoid These Six Common Mistakes  News18From the intimidating number of forms available, to claiming deductions, in the last-minute rush to file income tax returns, make sure to keep in mind some details ...
Invest up to ₹50 lakh in capital gains bonds, get LTCG tax break  LivemintYou need to reinvest the gains in capital gains bonds within six months of the asset's transfer..The maximum you can invest in these capital gains bonds is ₹50 ...
Botched your tax withholding in 2018? It's about to get more complicated  CNBCFine-tuning your tax withholding is about to get a little more complicated. The Internal Revenue *Service* is expected to release a draft of its new Form W-4, the ...
ITAT Upholds Tax Evasion Case Against NDTV Promoters Prannoy Roy & Radhika Roy [Read Order]  Live LawThe addition pertains to the share transfers made by Roys to RRPR Holdings Pvt Ltd in the financial years 2009-10 and 2010-11.
Withdrawing Rs 10 lakh a year may attract 3-5% tax: Finance Ministry  India TodayWithdrawing a cumulative Rs 10 lakh a year can attract 3-5 per cent tax if a proposal going around in the Finance Ministry takes shape in the Budget to track high ...
The Trump tax cut bonus boom never materialized  ThinkProgressWhen President Donald Trump signed his signature tax code overhaul in December 2017, he loudly touted the benefits it would provide working Americans ...
New York, California high-tax state exodus just beginning, expert warns  Fox BusinessThe Treasury Department officially squashed a key workaround last week.
How to tax sugary drinks  The EconomistSUGAR TAXES are on a high. Around 40 countries and seven American cities have started to tax sugary drinks, mostly in the past few years. Supporters say ...
I-T summons Naresh Goyal in tax evasion case  Economic TimesThe case is related to alleged irregularities in dealings between Jet and Dubai-based cos.
Experts press for tax exemptions, abolition of MAT in Budget 2019  Business StandardRead more about Experts press for tax exemptions, abolition of MAT in Budget 2019 on Business Standard. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman should ...
Tax rises needed to prevent economy overheating - ESRI  RTE.ieThe Economic and Social Research Institute says the economy is now growing so strongly that the government should increase taxes to avoid overheating risk, ...
Tax-free bonds could be reintroduced in Budget  LivemintHighway sector has been one of the best performing areas of the government.Infra majors can hope Budget to approve *fresh* issue of tax free bonds to raise ...
Pay first instalment of advance tax now  LivemintThe deadline to deposit the first out of total four instalments of advance tax for FY 2019-20 is on 15 June.Remember that you are just required to pay the advance ...
A Former Business Partner Alleges the Trumps Evaded Taxes in Panama  The New York TimesThe owners of a luxury hotel in Panama City that ousted the Trump Organization as property managers last year accused it on Monday of evading taxes in ...
Crunch time for Ohio lawmakers: deals needed on taxes, graduation requirements, more  Cincinnati.comHow much you pay in taxes, when your children graduate and more are on the line as Ohio lawmakers work to pass the two-year state budget.
AutoZone secures tax abatement for Downtown expansion  The Daily MemphianAutoZone is approved for a tax incentive to expand its Downtown into a “campus environment.”
NY state passes bill allowing Congress to request Trump's tax returns  CNNDemocrats in New York state passed a pair of bills Wednesday that would allow Congress to get hold of President Donald Trump's state tax returns amid an ...
Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle promises no-tax-hike 2020 budget  Crain's Chicago BusinessFor the first time in a very, very long time, Cook County will have a budget that does not ask residents to pony up more in taxes and fees. Greg Hinz On Politics.
ITR filing: Don't make these mistakes to avoid getting tax notice  Economic TimesFind out what you should do to avoid getting a notice for small errors on income tax returns.
Budget 2019: Tax officials likely to seek up to Rs 1.5 lakh crore reduction in collection target  India TodayOfficials from the tax department are likely to ask the finance ministry for a reduction in the tax collection target up to 6 per cent, translating to Rs 1.5 lakh crore, ...
Government plans fresh set of tax sops for startups in budget  Times of IndiaIndia Business News: The department for promotion of industry and internal trade (DPIIT) and the revenue department have discussed a package of tax sops in ...
Got a tax notice? Here’s what you should do  Economic TimesMistakes while filing ITR can fetch you a tax notice. Here's how you can respond to such tax notices.
Knotted cords may be the first evidence that Incas taxed goods  Science NewsSome knotted string devices point to crop levies imposed by the Incan empire, researchers say. But other khipus continue to evade description.
You might get these 4 tax breaks back if Congress reinstates deductions  USA TODAYLawmakers are taking steps to renew a package of tax breaks, potentially making a slew of expired deductions available once again. The so-called tax ...
ITR Filing: From mutual funds to FDs, here’s how income from your favourite investments is taxed  The Financial ExpressFiling income tax return? Here's a ready reckoner about how returns on investments made in shares, mutual funds, FDs, gold and real estate are taxed.
Trump Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: report shows it’s giveaway to corporations  Vox.comA new Congressional Research *Service* report shows the 2017 Republican tax law had a very muted impact on overall economic growth. Rather, the main ...
Bice: Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes walks out of TV interview when asked about delinquent taxes  Milwaukee Journal SentinelLt. Gov. Mandela Barnes still is not responding well to scrutiny of his personal tax bills. He walked out of an interview when the topic was raised.
Bombay HC dismisses PIL against Dream11 over gambling, tax evasion  EntrackrBombay High Court has dismissed a PIL against fantasy sports platform Dream11 that alleged the gaming unicorn for gambling as well as evading tax.
Publishers Plead With Trump Not to Impose a 'Bible Tax' With New China Tariffs  TIME(Bloomberg) — Book publishers are imploring President Donald Trump not to impose “a Bible tax.'' Proposed tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods would ...

Hurricane Katrina ? How To Use Your Business Loss To Get A Refund on 2004 Taxes

With the massive losses caused by Katrina, the economy of... Read More

Another Tax Loophole

Just image, you are a small manufacturing company, business has... Read More

Small Business Tax Deduction - Write-Off Bad Debts

Practically every small business has receivables that it cannot obtain... Read More

How To Get An Extension To File Your Business Tax Returns

Yes, the tax season is upon with the first filing... Read More

Euro Tax Haven Threat

Media reporting of a new EU savings tax directive has... Read More

The Seven Deadly Tax Sins: Commonly Missed Deductions

It's that time again, the April 15 tax deadline is... Read More

History Of The Federal Income Tax

The powers of Congress, and the limitations set upon those... Read More

I Havent Filed a Tax Return with IRS in Years, What Do I Do?

In elementary school, kids come up with creative excuses why... Read More

Tax Deductions - Mr. C.P.A. Can I Deduct a Pizza? You Too Can Deduct Your Fun By Using Tax Tips

Recently, I stumbled across a concept that could change your... Read More

Business Tax Loophole: Leasing Assets To Your Corporation

While there are many equally valid reasons to incorporate, saving... Read More

How to Cut Duty Cost and Increase Profit as an Importer

Import duties continue to be significant elements in the cost... Read More

Know A Tax Cheat? Get Paid To Tell The IRS

According to the IRS, taxpayers underpay their taxes by some... Read More

Tax Strategy - Let Washington Pay for Your Corvette, Porsche, or Air Plane

Deducting Your Auto ExpensesAuto deductions are a very complex topic.... Read More

Truly Bizarre Taxes: The Tax on Illegal Drugs

One can never underestimate the enthusiasm that politicians have for... Read More

10 Thoughts on Tax Offer in Compromise

Beware of advertisements that claim to settle tax debts for... Read More

The Implications of Income Tax Charge on Estate Planning

OverviewIn the Pre-Budget Report of December 2003 the Chancellor Gordon... Read More

Insider Guides to IRS Audits!

Ever wish that, as a business owner, you knew exactly... Read More

Business Tax Deductions

As we enter mid-March, taxpayers begin to become very interested... Read More

Identity Theft ? Impacting Your Taxes?

If your identity is stolen, your finances can quickly become... Read More

Surprising Truths About Tax Preparers

Choosing the right tax preparer for your business is a... Read More

Getting A Second Extension to File 2004 Taxes

Millions of people file tax return extensions every year. The... Read More

Gambling Income and Expenses - Tax Requirements

Hit a big one? With more and more gambling establishments,... Read More

Deducting Points On Home Refinances

Deduction of Refinance PointsAny points that you pay in the... Read More

Estate Taxes - It Pays to Plan Ahead

Estate taxes. It's not enough to simply know they exist,... Read More

Tax Time Tune Up

Excerpted from the new book, "How to Do Space Age... Read More