If you’re dreading filing your federal and state income taxes, you are not alone. Millions of Americans procrastinate, filing at the last possible minute on April 15. This year, there are plenty of free tax-filing options available, especially if you are willing to file early.
Like other parts of the federal government, in recent years the IRS has faced budget cuts. This year, the IRS expects to answer fewer than half of the telephone calls it receives. If you’re looking for help with tax questions, free filing services or tax filing software might be a good option.
Each year since 2003, the IRS has teamed up with tax software companies such as H&R Block and Turbo Tax to provide free tax filing for taxpayers who qualify. Tim Hugo, executive director of the Free File Alliance, told the Chicago Tribune that about 70 percent of American taxpayers, almost 100 million people who earn less than $60,000 annually, are eligible for free tax filing under Free File. Also, this year TurboTax is filing state returns for eligible taxpayers for free and, until Feb. 15, H&R Block is charging $9.99 for a single state return.
Despite the myriad of free or low-cost tax-filing options, many Americans pay for professional tax preparation. Some people don’t realize that filing online is an option. According to the Washington Post, low-income taxpayers often sit with tax preparers to do their taxes while young people and middle-income taxpayers tend to file online. The wealthiest Americans, possibly due to more complicated tax situations, tend to hand their taxes over accountants.
The Inquisitr reports that online tax filing can prove to be particularly beneficial to taxpayers who need to get refunds quickly. Tax filing software generally allows you to find out when the IRS accepts your tax forms. You can then go to the IRS web site to track your refund. If you opt for the direct deposit option, you can get your refund faster than if you choose to get a paper check. With recent budget cuts, the IRS may take longer than the average of 21 days to get direct deposit refunds to taxpayers. Refunds in the form of paper checks may take even longer.
There are many free tax-filing programs available. Finding a program may depend on your age, income, and/or state of residence. Visit irs.gov/freefile to learn more or to file online.
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