Ah, the season of joy and jubilation is upon us once more! No, not Christmas - it's that other magical time of the year for every American: tax filing season. Get ready to rumble through your receipts and dance with deductions.
For those who consider navigating tax forms a less than exhilarating pastime, there's a plethora of commercial apps and online services ready to take some of your hard-earned cash in exchange for simplifying your electronic tax filing.
But wait, there's a beacon of hope for the financially savvy! If you made under $73,000 last year and your tax situation isn't knotted up like a string of Christmas lights, some of the bigwigs in electronic tax filing offer their services for free. Yes, free as in 'no charge', not as in 'free trial' or 'free with a catch'.
The IRS Free File service, a glimmer of simplicity in the tax filing chaos, is available to about 70% of U.S. taxpayers, as per the IRS's own data. This program is a cozy little arrangement between the IRS and seven major online tax-prep companies.
Free File is your golden ticket to filing federal taxes at no cost, but state tax filing might still reach into your wallet, depending on the provider.
The service kicks off tomorrow:
- Visit the IRS Free File website.
- Click the enticing "Use Free Guided Tax Preparation" button, then tap "Start lookup tool" under the IRS Free File Online Lookup Tool for a digital hand-holding experience. Alternatively, the Browse All Offers tool lets you peruse each offer like a tax-savvy shopper.
- Pick the product that suits your tax needs.
- Follow the yellow brick road (or the provided links) to the provider's site and start your tax journey.
The IRS is also dabbling in a simpler service, akin to TurboTax but with a delightful price tag of $0. This nifty app lets you snap a photo of your W-2 with your iPhone and voila! The information is whisked into the IRS tax return form. Start on your phone, finish on your Mac - easy as pie, or at least easier than actual pie-making.
While TurboTax usually nudges your wallet for about $100, this IRS Direct File is a breath of free air. Patience is key, though, as you need an invite from the IRS to partake in this tax fiesta.
Now, let's add a pinch of snark: Isn't it just heartwarming to see companies like Intuit lobbying fiercely to ensure tax preparation remains as exclusive and costly as a country club membership? After all, why should the process of giving away your money be easy and free? Here's to another season of navigating the maze of tax filing, with or without the help of our big corporate 'friends'!