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In under two months, time will run out on filing your federal and state tax returns.
If you've got all your documents together, you can file your 2017 income tax return online and beat the April 17 cutoff. And you may not have to spend a dime! Read on for our list of free tax-filing options.
Was your adjusted gross income (AGI) at or under $66,000 in 2017? If so, you can use IRS Free File software to file your federal return free of charge — and in some cases, your state returns as well. Participating providers include the following:
FreeTaxUSA: Free federal and state filing is available if you were 17 to 61 years old before January 1, 2018, and your AGI was $51,000 or less in 2017. This option is also available for active-duty military. Otherwise, you'll incur a fee of $9.99 to file your federal return. State filing is also available for $12.95.
eSmart: Free federal filing is available for those who are age 54 or younger with an AGI of $66,000 or less, or if you're active-duty military. Otherwise, the fee is $19.95 for federal returns and another $19.95 for state returns (where the service is available).
OLT.com: Taxpayers with an AGI between $14,000 and $66,000 — or active-duty military with an AGI of $66,000 or less — qualify for free federal and state filing. Free filing is open to all ages. If you don't qualify for free filing, the fee is $7.95 to file your federal and state return.
ezTaxReturn: You qualify for free federal filing if your AGI is $66,000 or less. But a $19.95 fee applies for state returns (plus the same amount for federal returns, if you don't qualify). While the free filing is available to individuals of all ages, you must reside in an eligible state.
1040.com: Individuals under the age of 53 with an AGI of $60,000 or less qualify for free federal filing. Active-duty service members with an AGI of $66,000 or less and people who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) also qualify. However, a fee of $4.95 is assessed for select state returns.
1040Now.net: Those who are 60 or younger with an AGI of $66,000 or less can use this program to file their federal return for free, but state limitations apply. Other states also offer free federal returns without the age restriction. The federal filing fee ranges from $14.95 to $19.95 if you don't meet the income criteria, and a flat fee of $17.95 applies for state returns.
TaxAct: If you're under 57 years of age with an AGI of $53,000 or less, you can use this software to file a free state and federal return. You're also eligible for free filing if you're active-duty military with an AGI of $66,000 or less, or if you qualify for the EITC.
FileYourTaxes.com: Individuals between the ages of 15 and 65 with an AGI of $9,000 to $66,000 qualify for free federal filing. Residents of select states also qualify for free state filing, and others must pay a $25 fee. If you're active-duty military with an AGI under $66,000, you also qualify for free federal filing. Otherwise, a federal filing fee of $28.75 applies.
TurboTax: Free federal and state filing is available to individuals with an AGI of $33,000 or less, active-duty service members with an AGI of $66,000 or less, and those who qualify for the EITC. If you don't qualify, the federal return filing fee can cost up to $149.99.
TaxSlayer: Taxpayers who are 52 years or younger with an AGI of $66,000 or less qualify for free federal filing, as do active-duty service members with an AGI of $66,000 or less. However, a state filing fee of $22 applies (unless you live in Georgia).
Free Tax Return.com: Those who have an AGI of $66,000 or less, are 70 years or younger, and live in a qualifying state are eligible for free federal filing. Active-duty or reserve military with an AGI of $66,000 or less also qualify for federal and state filing. Free state filing is available in select states, too. Otherwise, the fees for federal and state filing are $29.95 and $24.95, respectively.
H&R Block: Free federal and state filing is available to individuals who reached age 17 to 50 before January 1, 2018, with an AGI of $66,000 or less, active-duty service members, and those who qualify for the EITC. If you don't qualify, fees of $29.99 and $36.99 apply for federal and state returns, respectively.
Need help narrowing down your filing options? Use this lookup tool. You'll need to input your age, 2017 AGI, and state of residence to get started.
Did your AGI exceed $66,000 in 2017? Then you can use fillable forms to file your federal income taxes online for free. This option requires you to register for an online account and complete the proper forms from scratch. You're also responsible for submitting them to the IRS.
A word of caution: Although this is a free option, it may be better to solicit the help of a reputable tax preparer to avoid costly mistakes.
You'll need a copy of your 2016 return to get started, because all accounts and accompanying information are removed from the system around October 20 of each year. (For this reason, you should also save or print a copy of your 2017 return.) And if you need to file a state return, you'll need to go elsewhere, as it isn't available via fillable forms.
Do you have a taxable income of $100,000 or less, are you single or married filing jointly, or do you qualify for the EITC without children? If so, you may qualify for free federal and state filing through Jackson Hewitt. However, a fee may apply if you wish to file your return in person.
In December 2016, Credit Karma launched their free online tax preparation and filing service. Both federal and state returns can be filed free of charge. There are no maximum income criteria to qualify for fee-free filing, and online support is available 24/7.
Before you sign up for any free tax filing software, keep these tips in mind:
Get organized. Most self-guided tax software is fairly easy to follow. Still, you may find yourself spending a ton of time on one page if your documents aren't organized, or if you don't have everything you need.
When in doubt, always ask. You should be given the option to chat with a tax professional if you need additional assistance. It may cost you a fee, but it could save you time, money, and headaches from dealing with the IRS if you're audited later.
Give your return a second look. Once you've entered all your information and your return's ready for e-filing, take a break. Then review your return — line by line — to confirm you've entered all the necessary information and all the figures are accurate.
Don't wait until the last minute. Online glitches are more likely to occur when tons of individuals are using a particular tax filing program. You can avoid the risk of missing the filing deadline by submitting your return sooner rather than later.
Readers, have you used any of this free tax preparation software in the past? What did you think of it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.