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:

The Tax Increases to Come  The Wall Street Journal
The Big Problem With Wealth Taxes  The New York Times
Tax the Patriarchy  The Atlantic
Upper Prov OKs $6.3M budget, taxes going up $17  The Delaware County Daily Times

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