If you've ever visited an accountant's office, then you know how expensive filing your taxes can be. According to the National Society of Accountants 2016-7 fee survey, the average fee to prepare and file the most simple of tax forms is $176. Add a few extra forms, and that cost can double, or even triple. And some accountants even charge extra for disorganized and incomplete information!
Fortunately, there are a lot of great tax filling options that are really free. Even some of the biggest names in tax prep, such as H&R Block and Turbotax, offer free options.
Here are all your free-filing options for 2019.
Credit Karma Tax
Credit Karma, the same site that offers free credit reports and monitoring, has a popular free tax filing tool. It’s legitimately free, no matter how complicated your filing situation is.
It’s really easy to use, too. Credit Karma walks you through your taxes with a simple interview-style process. Just answer a few simple questions -- for example, did you get married this year? -- and it’ll fill out all the forms you need automatically.
The best feature, though, is its compatibility. If you used H&R Block, TurboTax or Tax Act to file your taxes last year, Credit Karma has an option to import this data. It makes switching a snap.
There’s a pretty big catch to Credit Karma, though: There’s not a lot of support if something goes wrong. If you get audited, you’re on your own. And that’s scary as hell.
H&R Block's My Free Taxes
One of the best free federal and state tax filing options is My Free Taxes, offered through H&R Block and United Way. It's available to households with adjusted gross incomes (AGI) of $66,000 or less. Best of all, it covers common tax complications, such as earning investment income or working freelance.
It's really simple to use -- you can even input your W-2 just by snapping a photo of it. To learn more and get started, visit myfreetaxes.com.
Turbotax Free File
If you have a relatively simple tax situation, you may be able to file via Turbotax for free. To get free filing, you'll need to either qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit or otherwise have an AGI of $34,000 or less. If you're active duty military, that number rises to $66,000.
Note that the Turbotax free file option doesn't support a number of common deductions, such as the student loan interest deduction or child and dependent care expenses. You can learn more about the Turbotax free file option by visiting taxfreedom.com.
Free Tax USA
Before there was Credit Karma, there was Free Tax USA. It’s one of the most popular free e-filing programs out there, available directly from freetaxusa.com.
People love it because it supports common tax situations that some “free” software charges you for, such as claiming income from dividends or Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions. Like Credit Karma, Free Tax USA allows you to import last year’s data from TurboTax and other paid software providers.
One standout feature is the ability to file late tax returns, up to seven years back. It’s fantastic if you’ve missed a year (or seven) and don’t know what to do. Free Tax USA doesn’t judge.
You are warned, however: E-filing your state taxes is not free. There’s a $12.95 upcharge for that. Free Tax USA offers audit support and allows you to amend your return once you’ve filed, but only if you pay $6.95 for a deluxe upgrade.
...or just download what you need directly from the IRS
If you don’t want to trust your personal data with a third party, you can always just download the forms you need directly from the Internal Revenue Service website. You just fill in the numbers, and print it out when you’re done.
You’ll need to do the math yourself, and you’ll need to hunt down the state tax forms you need separately. It’s pretty much the old-fashioned way of doing your taxes.
That said, it’s totally free. And if you’re worried about going it alone for the first time, there are IRS agents on call to answer any questions you have about filling it out.