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:

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A wealth tax could totally remake charity in the United States  Vox.comIn the past year, a massive, predominantly left-wing backlash to mega-philanthropy has broken out. Writers like Anand Giridharadas, Rob Reich, and Rutger ...
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Trump Decides Laws Are for Little People on Taxes and Ukraine  BloombergThe presidential team's attempts to keep his tax records and Ukraine conversations private suggest he is beyond reproach. Far from it.
CBDT launches one-time facility for compounding of income tax offences  Economic TimesA one-time facility to apply for compounding of income tax offences has been launched and taxpayers can avail this opportunity by December 31, a latest CBDT ...
New corporate tax rates give companies flexibility to choose between tax structures: Seshagiri Rao, JSW Steel  Moneycontrol.comDepending on its capex cycle, a company can choose between existing tax rates with payment of MAT or, the reduced corporate tax.
Income-tax return filings surge to a record  LivemintTax returns filed on the final date surged 41% to 4.9 mn filings in 2019-20 assessment year from a year ago.There has been a sharp increase in filing returns ...
Formalisation is shrinking the economy  BusinessLineThe drive to make units in the informal sector tax compliant has pushed them to the wall, reducing margins and volumes.
HDFC Bank shares surge most in 30 months after govt slashes corporate tax rate  Moneycontrol.comShares of HDFC Bank surged 10 percent on BSE on September 20, marking their highest intraday gain in over 30 months, after the government announced ...
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Moody's says corporate tax cut too boost net income of companies  Moneycontrol.comMoody's Investors *Service* on September 20 said the government's move to cut corporate tax rate will boost net income of Indian firms, and is a credit positive ...
Google will pay over $1 billion after French investigation over dodged taxes  The VergeGoogle has agreed to pay a $550 million fine to settle an investigation in France over its tax practices, Reuters reports.
Government to tweak Income Tax Act, won’t replace it with direct tax code  MoneycontrolNEW DELHI : The government is unlikely to replace the Income Tax Act with the direct tax code, and will only incorporate select suggestions from the draft law to ...
Burden of corporate tax cut will fall on common man: Congress  India TodayCongress Party has said that the burden of corporate tax cut announced by Modi Government on Friday will fall on the common man. Party spokesperson ...
Road tax hikes making cars unaffordable, says Maruti Suzuki chairman R.C. Bhargava  The HinduCiting increases in road taxes by various States as one of the main reasons for higher car prices, making them unaffordable, Maruti Suzuki chairman R.C. ...
Govt hoping for windfall gains from tax amnesty scheme  Business TodayAt a time when the government is scurrying for every penny that counts - because of fiscal uncertainty arising out of a slowing economy - it can hope to get some ...
Tax task force recommends new tax slabs for individuals  Economic TimesNEW DELHI: A government constituted Direct Tax Code task force, headed by CBDT member Akilesh Ranjan, is arguing for a new tax regime for individuals.
Tax reduction means better capital efficiency for engineering sector  Moneycontrol.comOne very important aspect of capital intensive sectors such as construction and engineering is they require a huge amount of capital. With the reduction in ...
Govt reworking its strategy to enhance direct tax mop-up: CBDT Member Ranjan  Economic TimesNEW DELHI: The government is reworking its strategy to boost revenue collection from direct taxes which has been lagging behind so far, a senior CBDT official ...
Portugal Tax Authorities Clarify That Buying Or Selling Cryptocurrency Is Tax-Free  ForbesThe United States may be taking a hard line on cryptocurrency, but not all countries are seeking to collect from the virtual currency boom. Portugal has clarified ...
Taxing times  The Indian ExpressSluggish tax collections are likely to upset spending plans. Government needs to explore other ways to shore up revenues.
Companies will have the leeway to cut prices: Maruti’s Bhargava on tax relief  Livemint'Companies will now have the leeway to become more competitive in the market place'.'They can (if they want to) reduce prices or use any other measure to the ...
Aviation sector to get a boost from government's tax rate cut  LivemintNew Delhi: The domestic aviation sector, struggling with tepid growth, will get a shot in the arm from the finance minister's announcement to reduce corporate tax ...
This triple tax-advantaged account might beat your 401(k) plan  CNBCThere's a savings account with a potential advantage over your 401(k) plan — and it just might help you save on taxes. It's your health savings account, and it's ...
Tax booster a AAA rated announcement from government: Sunil Singhania, Abakkus Asset Manager  Economic TimesThe policy indicates that the government is willing to forgo some tax revenue, maybe a little bit of fiscal prudence but ensure that the economy comes back to the ...
7 changes in income tax laws that come into effect from Sept 1  Economic TimesHere is the list of the seven main changes in tax laws that will come into effect from September 1.
Is it time to switch income tax with a sales tax?  The GuardianIs it time for the US to consider switching from income tax to a progressive consumption tax as a way of addressing growing wealth inequality? Many economists ...
As govt foregoes tax income, bond traders fear more supply  LivemintThe benchmark 10-year govt bond yield surged by over 20 basis points after the govt announced a corporate tax cut.Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman puts ...
Corporate tax rate cut will boost earnings by 15-17%: Sushil Kedia  Moneycontrol.comSlashing corporate tax rates is a 'regime change' sort of move and will work for over 10-15 years, said Sushil Kedia, Founder, Kedianomics, in a chat with ...
Apple Says It Would Rather Not Pay $14.3 Billion in Back Taxes to the EU  GizmodoThe European Union has ordered Apple to pay roughly $14.3 billion (13 billion euros) to cover back taxes the EU says is owed to Ireland. But Apple is putting up ...

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