When you get ready to file your taxes this year, it is important to research the best way to do so. If you feel comfortable completing the tax forms yourself, the IRS has a free file program for anyone whose income is $66,000 or less. There are also different companies such as H&R Block, Turbotax, TaxAct, Credit Karma, etc. that offer free e-filing for simple returns or you can pay to use their software for more complicated returns.
If you pay to use a tax company’s software, be aware of upselling and hidden fees. Most companies will offer to file your simple return for free but try to sell you extra services such as audit protection. Depending on your situation, you may want the audit protection but just be sure to read the fine print to know exactly what type of protection you are receiving when purchasing that service. Additionally, these companies will offer to let you pay for services using your refund money, but this usually comes with a hefty service fee. The seemingly “free” tax refund advances can also come with hidden fees such as prepaid card fees, fees for tax preparation, etc. Although these advances are preferable to the once popular high interest tax refund loans, you should be careful when deciding whether to sign up for one.
If you choose to have a professional tax preparer complete your tax forms, be sure to choose someone you trust. Take the time to review the tax preparer’s work, ensure they are licensed, and know how the forms were completed to make sure you are receiving all applicable deductions and credits.