Like most people, I like free stuff. So I figured I would check out the free offer over at TurboTax.
This software is only free if your taxes are simple (no business income, no itemized deductions, and you don’t need step-by-step instructions) and you owe no state income tax. Otherwise, you will need to pay for additional features.
The prices for the four different paid versions of TurboTax are shown here. State filing is an additional $36.95. This means that TurboTax Deluxe Online with state filing will set you back $66.90. If you have a home business, you might have to use TurboTax Premier ($74.95). Add in the state filing, and you’re up to $111.85.
I just saw TurboTax Deluxe over at Target (yes, I still use brick-and-mortar stores) where it was on sale for $49.99. However, there was a $19.95 fee for state e-filing. Figure in our local sales tax, and it will cost you $73.97.
There is another free version of TurboTax (“Freedom Project”) over here. This one includes certain states but not others. You must have under $31,000 adjusted gross income to take advantage of the Freedom Project, unless you are on active military duty ($57,000 limit) or qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit.
This is a good place to warn you that if you have a complex tax situation (partnerships, S-corporations, office at home, trusts, etc.), you would probably be best off using a professional preparer. A professional preparer will better know how to minimize your taxes, and can better avoid errors. Alternatively, you need to study and learn the federal and state rules in detail.
I haven’t done my own taxes yet (I will be using TurboTax), but I wouldn’t be surprised if a few more fees pop up along the way.
The IRS lists more free options here. Caveat emptor.
[Image: Money, Money, Money by borman818, on Flickr]