File Your Taxes on the Cheap This Year

It’s about to be tax season again. In the past you may have turned to a CPA or some other tax preparation service to help you file your taxes. This year, you may be looking for a cheaper alternative, maybe even file your taxes for free. Below are some tips for those that might want to minimize filing expenses or those that cannot afford professional tax preparation service.

File for Free: If you grossed $56,000 (expected) or less in 2009 you can use the IRS’s FreeFile to file your Federal taxes for free. FreeFile is expected to reopen January 15th. If you made more than $56,000, then you can utilize your computer by purchasing a software program like TurboTax. Although TurboTax comes at a cost, it will usually ensure you catch deductions and credits to help lower your total tax liability.

Editor’s Note: TurboTax also has a free online edition: Get your refund fast. Do your taxes the easy way with TurboTax. Start Now.

Don’t e-file: To minimize expenses further do not e-file your tax return whether State or Federal (unless its free like with FreeFile) even though it is sometimes much easier to do than mailing it. This alone can save you $25 to $100 dollars depending on what software you are using.

Bottom-Line: Unless you tax situation is complex, use a software program or go online. Don’t e-file your tax return unless you are using the IRS’s FreeFile and your State’s (if offered) or you need your refund as soon as possible.

Other Notes: Make sure you obtain your W-2 from your employer(s) as you will need this. It is important to begin collecting documentation now such as a W-2, 1099s, mortgage statements, bank statements and more.

If you don’t receive your W-2 by February 2nd, 2010 contact your employer first. The IRS can be contacted but there is a fee typically and should not have to pay this.

This is an article from Matt Robinson at Matt has been helping Federal and state taxpayers find IRS tax debt relief for over 10 years now. His firm focuses on on tax debt solutions and has constructed a new self-help site for taxpayers to resolve minor tax problems.

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Last Edited: May 8, 2014 @ 2:25 pmThe content of is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Visitors to should not act upon the content or information without first seeking appropriate professional advice. In accordance with the latest FTC guidelines, we declare that we have a financial relationship with every company mentioned on this site.


  1. I have a very simple tax situation (just a few hundred dollars invested in 2009, a little interest income, and a Roth 401k), so I was planning on getting Turbotax for $9.95 and the e-filing my state taxes for free. There shouldn’t be much hidden savings, so it this the right way to go? Or should I save my money and go with FreeFile? This is my first time doing taxes, so I’d like to make the process a fairly simple plug and chug.

  2. Daniel – Is your income above $56,000? If so, then you can’t use FreeFile, and you might as well use TurboTax. As for e-filing…I think that’s going to cost you regardless of income and what service you use.

    What I did when I had low income and a simple return was use FreeFile and mail my return in. Completely free.

    You can always just go to your local library and pick up free forms to mail in yourself.

  3. awesome post. Thanks for the advice. Yeah you definitely can save by mailing in your state tax return instead of eFiling it.

  4. Having had my state return ‘lost’, I absolutely feel the the $9.95 fee is worth it to file electronically. I had to wait for months for my return, because they couldn’t tell me if they had received it or not. They finally said resend it, and I did get my refund, but it was 3 months after I would have received it had I filed electronically.

  5. Regarding the suggestion to file paper returns. Be careful. We filed our state return by mail last year. They received it on time but (due to budget cuts) took six months to process. All the while, we waited on our refund. I will definately be e-filing this year.

  6. Mike Dunham says:

    I used TaxACT – – last year and it worked great. It’s free to use it to prepare your federal return, which you then print out and mail (there is an efile option, which I didn’t use). They want you to pay for state returns, but my return for Georgia was so simple I did that one by hand.

  7. I’ve used for the last few years. I think I may have found it through a free file link, and even though I make too much now, the basic version is still free to file federal. I pay a bit to have them import my previous year information. It would cost to file state through their site, so then I go to my state’s free file site (Indiana). I assume other states allow free online filing too. You just need to have done your federal first, no matter the format.

  8. Jason Perez says:

    Note: you can use the FreeFile Fillable Forms at for free. There is no income limit for this service. You fill out the forms your self (it does some basic computation) and then submit the forms. I used this service last year, no issues.

  9. I really don’t understand why the IRS doesn’t have their own website for submitting tax returns for free. It would save a ton of money in paper and reduce the need to deal with erroneous or illegible forms. What year is this, again?