Talking Tech Friday – Taxes

I think I get later every week, but at least the topic of this post is early.  We know that spring brings many lovely things, but on the flip side, the taxes are coming up.  Today I’m going to point to several online tax preparation options.  There are many sites that help you prepare and file your taxes at little to no cost, helping to make tax season as painless as possible.

Major Services

IRS e-file: If you make less than $56,000 a year, you can file taxes for free through the IRS Free File program.  This allows you to choose from a variety of participating preparation sites (some of while I’ll mention later in this post), or to just fill out the tax forms yourself.  You can specify direct deposit for any tax returns, and file your taxes at the time that’s most convenient to you.  If you make more than $56,000/year, you can still file electronically through participating preparation services, for whatever charge they offer.

H&R Block: The popular tax preparers have a web site that allows you to prepare your taxes yourself online.  They offer free tax preparation and filing for simple returns (federal taxes only – like many sites, there is an additional charge for filing state taxes: $29.95), as well other services for more complex preparation ranging from $39.95 to $79.95.

TurboTax: In addition to the popular software package, Turbo Tax offers online filing, including free e-filing (the software bundle charges for electronically submitting your taxes).  Like H&R Block, simple taxes (that can qualify for the 1040EZ form) can be filed for free with an additional charge of $25.95 for state taxes.  More complex services are available, ranging in cost from $29.95 to $109.95 (adding state onto each brings it to $55.90-$135.90).

Lesser Known Services

I’ve chosen a couple that I’ve either heard about or personally know people who have used them – the IRS does have quite a few listed on their site of participating services, so feel free to peruse at your leisure.

TaxAct: One of the most popular sites, TaxAct has been in business for several years and has a pretty solid reputation.  They offer free preparation and filing, with an additional charge of $13.95 for state taxes.  Unlike H&R Block and TurboTax, the free option is not limited to simple returns.  Their other services, ranging from $9.95 to $16.95 just offer more options, as detailed in this handy chart.  The $16.95 option is really the best deal, since the price includes state tax preparation and filing, along with the most tax preparation help.  Adding state filing ($7.00) to the Deluxe option ($9.95) is the same cost, so you might as well go for the most bang for your buck.

Taxslayer: Another popular service (possibly due to the name), Taxslayer offers 2 options for tax preparation: $9.95 for e-filing both federal and state taxes, or a more comprehensive package for $14.95 that still includes state tax filing.  Taxslayer also provides a downloadable software package for $29.95 for those who may not want to file online, and they permit you to prepare up to 5 returns with one software installation.  One final note, Taxslayer offers their basic service to active military personnel for free.

Both of these sites have attractive interfaces and good technical support.

Possible Library Uses

Purely reference – we all know that the tax questions will be popping up a lot, and we also know that stress levels are high and financial levels are low.  Being able to point to some reliable websites for easy and low cost tax preparation will bring you lots of kudos from your patrons.  Of course, feel free to use them yourself – though do please comment if you do and let us know how it went!



~ by Anali on February 6, 2009.