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Save Money! Do your (U.S.) Taxes for Free Online


W alking into a tax preparer shop like H&R Block will cost you a bare minimum of $99.95 ($129.95 if you pay state taxes). Paying taxes is bad enough so paying a preparer to help you navigate through complex tax law is definitely not groovy!

Good news groovyReaders, you might not need to. Depending on your income level, there are several different options for filing both your State and Federal returns for free.


The taxpayer deadline for 2012 is Tuesday, April 17 for filing your 2011 tax returns. Normally it’s April 15 but this year that falls on a Sunday and the following Monday is Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia. If you’re not ready by April 17th you can file an extension for Oct. 15th. If you owe cash, that might be a good idea however if you’re getting cash back there’s no point on waiting and letting the Fed. keep your cash.

So if you’re ready to start the filing process, here’s the options I’ve compiled for this year. If you see I missed a good option, drop me a note in the comments and I’ll add it to my chart.

image Turbo Tax Freedom

Free federal and state returns if you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit or your adjusted gross income is $31,000 or less or you are active duty military with an adjusted gross income of $57,000 or less (including Reservists and National Guard).

image TaxHawk

Free federal and state returns if your adjusted gross income is $20,000 or less.

image 1040NOW

Free federal and state returns if your adjusted gross income is $32,000 or less.

Even if you make enough that you don’t qualify for a free program, Amazon and other sites have the same software online for under $30. In most cases this will net you several hundreds of dollars in savings vs. going to a “tax-man.”

What’s your tax strategy? Share the knowledge in the comments below!

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5 Responses to Save Money! Do your (U.S.) Taxes for Free Online

  1. Jeremiah Springfield March 24, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Last year I spent $400 going to the H&R Block store to have my taxes done. This year I bought the Deluxe software on Amazon for as a digital download for $25 and had the exact same return amount.

    I’m done paying tax prepares, the software is an interview and asks the exact same questions that the guy in the shop does. Saved me 375 bucks, this is a great tip.

    • Steve Krause March 26, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

      Agreed – the tax software today is getting so good it’s hard to justify paying a 3rd party to prepare it for ya. They are probably using the same over-the-counter software anyway.

      My bank gives me free software each year (turbotax) and like you, the taxes came in the same as they did last yeah when I used a tax dude.

      Life is good!

  2. Amy March 26, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    I like TaxAct. I don’t meet any of the income levels above, but the Federal file was still free and I only paid $14.95 for state filing. My taxes are simple, though: live and work in the same state, just a few basic deductions. I might pay more if they were more complicated.

    • Steve Krause March 26, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

      Great tip – that’s wasn’t on the list. Thnx

    • Steve April 2, 2012 at 9:32 am #

      Agree with Amy. Been using TaxAct for 7 or 8 years. Handles my investment income as well as everything else. Was surprised to not see it on the list.

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