File Your Income Taxes Online for Free

by Kevin on January 22, 2009

Did you know you can file your federal taxes online for free? It’s not a scam. The IRS even maintains a web page with a dedicated list of current e-file providers.

Of course there are some catches involved. As a general rule unless the preparer notes it on their IRS profile, the maximum Adjusted Gross Income you can have to file for free online is $56,000. But note this does vary from preparer to prepaper. I’m not sure as to why, but it does. (You would think the government could say, “Support everyone with incomes below $XX,XXX per year”… but that’s the government for you.)

Additionally not all forms may be supported by the free file provider. If you have a complicated return you may … and probably should … look elsewhere.

However, for you new college graduates out there, or lower income earners, or folks with very, very simple returns… you can most likely file for free online. Sounds like a good deal to me.

TurboTax - Do your Taxes for Free - It's Easy

Which Free eFile Provider Should I Choose for My 2009 Taxes?

I can’t answer this for you perfectly. That list of IRS approved providers above is rather long.

But I think there is a pretty simple weeding out process you can do. Check the websites of the companies listed. Do they look aesthetically pleasing? I hate to promote judging a book from its cover, but let’s be honest. An ugly website doesn’t exactly make you feel warm and fuzzy about providing every last ounce of personal information from the previous year. Information that could be used to steal your identity. We don’t want that.

In this instance I wouldn’t buy the “generic” brand. I prefer to stick to brand names when I am handing over large amounts of personal information.

TurboTax is a free e-file provider and seems like a fine choice. If you have simple taxes you can use their online option and file for free. If your taxes are more complex (like mine) due to investments, IRAs, itemizing deductions, or your income is above the cap allowed to let you file for free then you know the company will still have a slew of options for you. The other providers may not be able to handle your more complex return. Even if they could I doubt many would argue they could guarantee you a maximum refund like TurboTax does.

This may not be the company for you. Do your research first. Personally I haven’t heard many bad things about the company. That doesn’t guarantee you will have a glowing experience. I’ve read they are a top rated tax company (“File online with TurboTax: #1 rated and #1 selling tax software!“) and seem to do just fine handling all of the returns they get each year.

Again, don’t let me decide for you. Check out their website and if you like what you see, file with them. If not, move on, go back to the IRS list and find another free eFile provider.

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