While April is the historic month for income taxes, the 2021 deadline has been extended to May for the country and June for Texas. While the timing is different, most of the material aspects of income tax remain the same. Among many considerations, the main objective is to prepare your returns punctually and accurately.
With many taxpayers having to navigate a maze of forms and deductions, this is easier said than done. Fortunately, there are software packages available to help. First, they help to uncover deductions, avoid mistakes and prevent penalties. In addition, they facilitate and accelerate the preparation itself.
Unfortunately, this also means that you have to make a different decision: which software? If you are at this stage, help has arrived! In this article, I’ll provide information about free (or inexpensive) tax preparation:
• • Downloadable: Preparing taxes using software on your computer is often faster than online. Additionally, you physically own your control files and are not at the mercy of a software provider (who may go out of business!) To provide your records. Unfortunately, there is no longer any free desktop control software available. However, downloadable versions can be purchased through TaxAct (www.taxact.com) for just $ 19. I have used TaxAct in the past and it worked very well until a few years ago. Based on my experience, I recommend contacting this provider carefully. This is just an example, but I cannot guarantee that your information is secure.
• • Online preparation: If your tax situation is complicated, most of the services in this section, with the exception of one, will be inadequate. However, if your tax situation is simple, then all of the options remain extremely viable. Almost every free online tax preparation tool is designed for a very basic edition that covers the 1040 form and little to no schedules. Services that provide the ability to file federal taxes online for free include:
– Free Tax USA (www.freetaxusa.com): Offers full functionality, including the 1040 and all timetables.
– Better than simple: The H&R Block Free Edition (www.hrblock.com/online-tax-filing/free-online-tax-filing/) offers the 1040 form and some schedules for some deductions and credits.
– Bare Bones: The following packages are more basic, but still serious: TurboTax (https://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/online/free-edition.jsp), TaxAct Online (www.taxact.com/) individual taxes / online / free /) and Tax Slayer (www.taxslayer.com/efile/free-tax-filing). Please note that these free offers contain terms. Visit the websites for more information.
– Additional Information: Although you may not expect this, the Internal Revenue Service has a page (www.irs.gov/uac/Free-File:-Do-Your-Federal-Taxes-for-Free) to help taxpayers . This website serves as a clearing house for various free online services. Its features include a tool to help users choose the most suitable service. Although they state that you must have an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $ 72,000 or less to benefit from it, be aware that this statement is based on their assumption that you must file a state income tax return. Since Texas doesn’t have a state income tax, many of the services could be free. As if we needed another benefit to live in this great condition!
• • Help: If you do not have a computer or cannot do taxes electronically, you may be eligible for free assistance in preparing your income taxes. The Coalition for Community Assistance Volunteers (www.ccavlubbock.org/free-tax-prep) offers this assistance to people with incomes less than $ 30,150 up to a family of five earning less than $ 57,000. Contact information can be found here: www.ccavlubbock.org/contact-us.
Unfortunately, income taxes are and will remain a complex issue. Fortunately, Savvy Shoppers have a variety of free tools to deal with this. Despite their ability to make many feel less than civilized, taxes have been said to be the price of a civilized society. At least that’s the theory!
Of course, there are a multitude of ways to deal with taxes and the savvy shopper would love to hear about them. Please visit and “Like” our Facebook website (click www.facebook.com/LubbockSavvyShopper or log into Facebook and enter “Lubbock Savvy Shopper” in the search tool) or write to us at SavvyShopperLubbock @ gmail .com and share your information with us with ideas.
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SEAN FIELDS is the savvy buyer of AJ. Read his columns on Sundays and Wednesdays. Send an email to SavvyShopperLubbock@gmail.com, like his Facebook page at Facebook.com/LubbockSavvyShopper, or check out previous columns and deals at lubbockonline.com/savvy-shopper.