Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
One Cheap Chick
Lesley Mitchell
Lesley Mitchell has been a business reporter at The Tribune since 1997, covering real estate, the retail industry, personal finance and economic development. A graduate of Utah State University's MBA program, Lesley, and her family, are dedicated to finding creative ways to save money, avoid debt and still have fun.

» E-mail

» Subscribe (RSS)

» Cheap Chick column archive




File your taxes for free

Preparing and filing your federal income tax return for free has never been easier. Here are the options:

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

H&R Block Free Edition • This is for taxpayers with simple returns. For more information, go to HERE.

Turbo Tax Free Edition • Tax-prep software company Intuit offers this option, also for fairly simple returns. Go to HERE for details.

In-store at Walmart • Select locations nationwide are offering free preparation of simple tax forms through a partnership with H&R Block and Jackson-Hewitt Tax Service, good only on 1040EZ forms. For more information, go to HERE.

The downside to these free private-sector programs is that they focus only on simple tax return preparation. If you have a more complicated return or itemize your deductions, you probably aren’t going to qualify for the free help. Plus, the free options don’t include state tax preparation.

But they do get a lot of people through the door. Companies often use free-filing programs as an opportunity to market other services, such as the state return preparation and filing, which cost money. Always compare prices among a handful of providers for the cost of all the services you’ll need this season.

And don't forget that tax-preparation companies offer an array of fee-based services that aren’t always a great idea. For example, you can elect to get a refund-anticipation loan at a high interest rate based on your anticipated refund. If you can wait a couple of weeks, you can get your money without giving anyone else part of it.

In addition to all the private-sector options, all Utah taxpayers can prepare and file their tax returns online directly with the Internal Revenue Service through its Free File program. The services provides electronic filing — and in many cases free tax preparation, too.

Free File comes in two formats: Traditional Free File and Fillable Forms.

Traditional Free File guides users through the process of preparing and filing a return. The option is provided through a public-private partnership between the IRS and a consortium of nearly two dozen tax software providers who make versions of their free-file products available exclusively at HERE.

A taxpayer must meet certain criteria to use Traditional Free File, such as having an adjusted gross income of $57,000 or less.

Anyone can use Fillable Forms, because there is no income limitation. Unlike the Traditional Free File, though, taxpayers aren’t guided through their returns by software. They must fill out the forms online.

One word of caution about Fillable Forms. Because you won’t have a software program guiding you through the tax-preparation process, there’s no guide to help you take advantage of important tax credits or deductions. One of those commonly missed deductions is the Earned Income Tax Credit, which can be worth hundreds, even thousands, of dollars to a low-income family.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
 
Jobs
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.