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Tax Filing Options & Tips Round-Up

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Tax Time will be here before we know it! So here’s a round up of a few tax filing options and FREE software programs that you may want to take advantage of. In addition, I would love for all of you to share any tips that you may have learned throughout the years!

* Head over here to sign up for a FREE Federal edition of Turbo Tax (you’ll be able to prepare, print and electronically file your federal tax return for free). If you need a more customizable version, consider purchasing TurboTax Deluxe Federal + E-File + State 2012 from Amazon.com for only $39.99 + Free Shipping.

* Or consider using FreeTaxUSA.com, TaxSlayer.com or TaxAct.com (all have been highly recommended by Hip2Save readers in the past!)

More Tax-Filing Tips:

* Head over to IRS.gov to file your federal taxes for free (this should be available later in January)

* Check the daily deal sites… Groupon has offered up significantly reduced vouchers for online tax preparation products in the past and will likely have similar offers over the next few months.

* Check with your local college. One reader reported that the accounting students at her local college will do her tax returns for free and they are then reviewed by the professor to ensure that they are correct.

* AARP Foundation Tax-Aide offers free help for older taxpayers and people with limited incomes. Find an AARP Foundation Tax-Aide site in your community by clicking here.

* If you are in the military, check out Military One Source for more information about different resources that are available. Active Duty Military can file for free with TaxSlayer.com and with e-Smart Tax by Liberty Tax.

Now it’s your turn! What are your tips?

Save a buck in these similar categories:

Spread the word on a great deal:

55 Hip Readers Commented

  • Danielle says:

    my local credit union does them for free if you are below an income level, or significantly reduced if you make more.

  • Laura says:

    I love tax time! I always pay what I owe as quick as possible. If I get a refund, I wait as long as possible to file so the money is a bonus that I have “forgotten” about and then it comes…. Surprise!!! :)

  • Kaylynn says:

    For FreeTaxUSA, there’s also 25% cash back if you go through ebates or ShopAtHome! And having used both, I think FreeTaxUSA is much more user friendly and it’s cheaper!

  • becki says:

    If you think you might qualify for Earned Income Credit–use Turbo Tax FREEDOM Edition. It will give you the free federal filing, but will also file your state taxes in qualifying states for FREE too! If you end up not qualifying it just reverts back to the regular edition. You don’t have to re-enter everything.

  • Beverly says:

    I like TaxAct. The basic federal edition is free and is fine as long as you don’t need a lot of hand holding. It doesn’t exclude things that other tax software basic editions excludes such as mortgages, schedule C, etc. You do have to pay for the state edition if you need it though.

    • Shari says:

      I’ve used TaxAct for years! I think it is a great program, and I do several other people’s taxes (to make a little extra cash) and it will allow you to prepare as many as you like. I file mine electronically for free, and either charge them to e-file, or print it out and just let them mail it in. You can check your state’s tax site, as many of them have free state tax filing too (I’m in Ohio, and they do for sure).

    • Sarah says:

      Since I’ve tried TaxAct 6 years ago, I’ve never tried another. I love the ease of it and I understand everything very well. I always have to itemize my tax return and I also file my state with it and then when done I e-file both my federal and my state. I only paid like $14 for both to be itemized and efiled and it’s worth it to me to have it all done in one place. I file around the 2nd week of February and get my refunds typically within the next week after that! Every year TaxAct sends me an email in like August or September to lock in a lower price than advertised for the upcoming tax year and I always take advantage of that.

    • Becky says:

      I worked as a CPA at Ernst & Young before becoming a stay-at-home mom at age 31, and I definitely recommend TaxAct! I’ve used several of these and find TaxAct to be just as user-friendly and MUCH more economical. I’ve used TaxAct several years now and they store all my data from year to year so I only had to enter all my personal, employment, dependent, and financial information the first time and then update the numbers each year.

  • Danielle says:

    I have a question for all of you wonderful hip2savers :) I am more then likely moving, very very soon, from NC to WA… and I don’t have a lot of savings. I should get a return this year, and that would really help with moving costs… Can I file with just my last paystub?

    • Jes says:

      You should be okay using your last paystub of the year. You can’t usually file til jan 15th so if your w2 comes you can double check the info

    • Sara says:

      This year, since they didn’t pass the the fix for the AMT (alternative minimum tax) until a couple days ago, it’s going to be even later, possibly Feb before the IRS accepts any returns.

  • Christina says:

    Turbo Tax is one that I like its very user friendly. Plus its free if you meet certain income guidlines. Also remember that no matter which software you use for your federal you can always file your state free on your state website. Some places will try and charge you for what is free!

    • Esther says:

      I love that I can file my State taxes online at my state site for Utah. I pair that with a free federal version and it works out great.

  • stephanie m says:

    feeling anxious this year about taxes… we have lived in IN all of our lives, however on Nov. 1st we moved to Tampa, FL…

    My husband has always done our taxes back home, but just not sure of all the differences now that we live here. cant decide if we should pay someone or buy a computer program or just let him try it out following the bookelt!

    aGGH too much to think about!! :) happy new year everyone!!

    • LENKA says:

      The great thing about FL is that you only have Federal income tax – no state, county or city tax. Real Estate taxes are low as well. I heart FL!!!

    • Laura says:

      Florida does not have an income tax, so you probably don’t have anything to file there. Check out this site for more info http://www.stateofflorida.com/Portal/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=29

      You probably still have a requirement to file a return in IN since you were a resident there for part of the year.

      I vote to let the hubby do it, but only if he’s good at following instructions!

    • Tricia says:

      Yes God bless the no State tax of FL! I moved from NJ to FL and that is the best part! lol You probably can do a software yourself from home….you’ll just have to pay state tax for the time you lived in IN if they require state tax.

      • Miriam says:

        Don’t worry about it Stephanie. We move from state to state a lot but your move couldn’t be easier. No taxes in Florida and then in IN instead of filing as a resident like you always have, you’ll be a part-time resident. Since you were there almost all year, you even know that your tax bill or refund will be very similar to usual.

    • Becky says:

      Hello to a fellow Hoosier! (I lived in the Winona Lake/Warsaw area from jr high – college.)
      Your husband will totally be fine doing the taxes this year! He will need to file one last return in the state of Indiana, since you lived there part of the year. But if he has always done your taxes without problems, he will be fine down in Florida too.
      If he’s unsure, one of these programs will walk him through all of it step-by-step.
      I personally love TaxAct–used it for about 5-6 years now, including the year we moved from state-to-state too. The instructions were very clear for filing each state return.
      Enjoy Florida! My sister lived there for four years and we loved visiting her every year. Such beautiful beaches! :-) Best wishes!!

  • Kit says:

    Thank for the link for Turbo Tax, as my mother is a Tax Preparer, that is the only program she uses and loves. So you saved her 25 dollars, as in the stores it is going for around 65 dollars. She needs to get as soon as possible every year and can’t wait for it to become cheaper with rebates.

  • Amy Chapman says:

    Local colleges and universities that have accounting programs often offer free tax services as well if you are below a certain income level

  • Amy Chapman says:

    Also … slightly off topic I see the amazon deal on turbo tax, and it a great deal! I was wondering if target would price match it? Does anyone know if Target has extended their price matching for “.com” competitors. I thought it was only until Dec 16th but checking their policy online there is no mention of a deadline anymore that i see? https://corporate.target.com/about/shopping-experience/our-low-price-promise#q4069

  • Diane says:

    I’ve used H&R Block at Home for years. I love how easy it is to use for someone who generally knows nothing about financial matters. I usually receive the free software cd in the mail and download and purchase from that. I did that the other day and was able to get federal + state “deluxe option” (I live in VA) for for $29.95 + tax (this is the same price they are selling it to download from their website. I found my receipt from last year when I purchased the same software from Target and paid $44.99!! Big difference! It is so much more expensive to go in person to have one of their experts file for you.

  • Tricia says:

    Is the Turbo Tax basic edition OK for someone like us? We have no mortgage, property or anything. We just rent a house with 1 income and 1 child. I see the Deluxe one says it will maximize your deductions…does it really do anything more than the Basic if I have nothing?

    • Leah says:

      Last year I used a special more expensive one since we are military and rent out our home we own…then I went back and used the plain free edition and got the same result. You should be fine with the regular one.

    • Becky says:

      You will definitely be fine using Turbo Tax although I think you will save money using TaxAct and both programs “maximize your deductions.”

  • Amanda says:

    We moved from MN to AZ last May and our taxes are always a little tricky. Does anyone know if any of the above mentioned programs allow you to file multiple states, allow for home business filing, and will let you do 1099 incomes as well as W-2?? I would love to do our taxes myself this year to save us some money…Thanks!

    • nikki says:

      I have the same question as well. I’m not sure if my taxes are complicated. I get a regular W2 but not state taxes come out of my PT job check (work from home). My husband worked w/ a company whch he was considered a “contract” driver and used his own truck along with paid his own gas, food, phone, etc. He gets a 1099. How does that work? Basic Free filing program or do we have to purchase the next edition up? We currently rent, have 1 child and he finally found another job w/o having to be “self employed. So for the first 9 months he would get his 1099 and last 3 months of 2012 he’ll get a W2. Any advice? I’m a college student very new to this and confused.

      • Tricia says:

        We had the exact same situation for 3 years…I got a 1099 my husband got the W2 and we rent with 1 child. I tried once to do the basic edition with a 1099 and half way through it told me I had to upgrade to deluxe but the following year it let me do it with Basic. So my advice is to start with Basic Free and if you need to upgrade it will tell you before you are able to file :)

    • Tricia says:

      I know Turbo Tax and H&R block does 1099 income but it has to be deluxe or home premium levels I believe….depending on if you claim a home office or not. I had 1099 income for 3 years and did Turbo Tax and H&R block and had no issues with either. I used Turbo Tax the year I moved from NJ to FL so you can do multiple states with Turbo Tax and I’m sure with H&R block too since they are both major tax software’s. I’ve been doing my own taxes for 7 years with both programs with no issues :)

      • nikki says:

        Thanks Tricia! So with the deluxe edition do they take you step by step with the deductions we have? For example, we keep all of our receipts for gas and food and car repairs and add them up at the end of the year. Does it explain that as well? Explain how to do it where to put the totals, etc? If that makes sense. Lol

        • Tricia says:

          You’re welcome! Yes it should. However I have been doing H&R block Free edition for the last 2 years and I think they have a better step by step than Turbo Tax but they are both understandable though. I actually do both sometimes the same way and notice that i get a few dollars more from H&R. I think basic might let you also add receipts for stuff but I don’t do that so I’m not sure. I would say if you want to save the $ try the basic first and if it tells you that you need deluxe or you don’t see a spot to add receipts then go to Deluxe :)

          • nikki says:

            Sounds good! Thanks so much! I’ve been trying to figure out how we would get our taxes done since we no longer will use my mother (long story). And all of this tax stuff is so confusing! No matter how many times I read everything thoroughly.

    • Amber says:

      Turbo tax allows you to file multiple state returns. I would use the deluxe edition.

  • Ereca says:

    In Oklahoma the local Goodwills do taxes for free :) I always do our own using Turbo Tax.

  • Conswalla says:

    If anyone lives in Bucks County PA, the Bucks County Opportunity Council does taxes for free if you meet income requirements.

  • Su says:

    I have used freetaxusa.com for at least five years, it is very user friendly. I have done my own taxes, friends and family as well. I think it is a great program I have had to pay for state taxes around $15 but it is totally worth it painless and it saves from year to year so if your employer is the same it is even easier. The program also compares whether you should take the standard or itemized deduction. Which changes for us from year to year.

  • Lisa says:

    So thankful for this post. We’ve been self-employed for the past 12 years and always had someone do our taxes of us. This will be the first year that we don’t have the business, so we will be doing our taxes on our own. I am very nervous about this and not sure which tax filing provider to use. We have a mortgage, 3 kids, and student loans. I will read over everyone comments and try to decide which would be the best for us.

  • Hallie J says:

    Individuals or families with a combined income under $57,000 in 2012 can file their taxes for free at http://www.myfreetaxes.com/ It’s very easy and very user friendly. I used to work for the nonprofit that started the program and it’s easy and they are a very helpful tool if you qualify!

  • amy says:

    Anyone know how much you get back per child?

  • Rebe says:

    Hello hipsters! I have a question for you concerning donations. Every year I have 3-4 of those yellow papers they give you at Savers when you donate quality goods. I save them every year and every year my husband tells me they are not worth it to be claimed. Do you guys claim all your donations or it is really a pain in the rear for how little you get back? THANKS!

    • Miriam says:

      Rebe, your husband couldn’t be more wrong! First of all, you have to itemize deductions to be able to claim the donation and pretty much that means that you have a mortgage so you itemize deductions because of the loan interest. So if you itemize, it’s simple, the total amount of your donation goes on that itemized deductions list as a charitable contribution. For couples, income over $72k (but less than $146k) is taxed at 25% so every $100 donated gets you $25 refunded. $1,000 in donations translates to $250!! If audited, they won’t let you claim over $250 at one time in donated goods if you didn’t have one of those receipts but have them, so you can claim up to $500 per receipt with no trouble. It really is easy. Only if you have more than $500 per receipt do you need to fill out an additional IRS form. In the future, consider taking a picture of what you donated and throwing it in your tax folder. Those donation receipts aren’t actually mailed btw. You keep them for your own files.

      • Ashley57 says:

        I have a question about this, if anyone is still reading this thread. The standard deduction for married couples filing jointly is $11,900 this year. My mortgage interest is so low, only $2,000 per year. We do donate, but not more than $1,000 per year, if that. Therefore, if I itemized my deduction would only be $3,000 dollars, so isn’t it better to take the standard deduction? Thanks!

      • Rebe says:

        Thanks Miriam! :)

  • kathy says:

    I have used taxact for years now. It’s really easy to use. I love their deduction finder. I use it to figure out the value of items I donate to thrift shops. It values everything much higher than I would! I might value a bag of clothing at $20. Accoding to their values it could be as high as $100. Cleaning out your closets can really add up!

  • Shari says:

    So far, I haven’t found anything that TaxAct can’t do. I used to work for a public accounting firm doing taxes, and I still have lots of different scenarios for all the people I prepare for (self-employed, own a mid-size company, rental property, retirement, all kids of student scenarios, etc.). It is very easy to follow. You do have to pay more for multiple states, but I just usually file the state returns on the state websites, so don’t bother even buying the state portion. Good Luck to everyone!

  • vanessa says:

    Does anyone know about casino wins. I won a jcakpot for about $1500 and paid the taxes right away. i usually use free tax usa, but this time i’m scared. Do i need to go to the casino and get a print out of my winnings and loses?

    • Valerie says:

      Usually when you collect your winnings, if they are over a certain limit they are required to give you a 1099-G showing your income with no taxes withheld. You then report that on your taxes.

  • stacy says:

    Check at your local library too! At our library the aarp tax helpers will do taxes for anyone regardless of income or age.

  • Kimberly Harris says:

    I would be the last person to give any tax advice recently we received a additional bill for state tax which was due at Christmas. With our three jobs total, I guess we did not give them enough some how. First time for us ever to receive anything from the IRS.( ages 47 and 46) A friend said get ready they will send you additional due statements for the next 5 years. Feeling a little depressed about that :(

  • Stacy says:

    DC Public Libraries will do your taxes for free if you make below a certain income. Check http://www.dclibrary.org to see if the limitations have changed. Currently the website states they will assist individuals earning $35,000 or less, and families earning $45,000 or less.

  • Stacy says:

    I forgot to add: I’m not sure about other cities, but I’m sure it is offered in other places. Hope this information is helpful!

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