That Time of Year Again - Tax Return Preparation Question

I get e-mail offers from TaxAct (the only on I remember the name of) and other free online tax reurn preparation services. Are these legit? Has anyone used any of these? Should I bother with them, or use paid for software, or go to a live tax preparer. I have used paid for software in the past and have also slogged through the paperwork by hand, which ain’t fun. (United States)

There are many free and legit websites, TaxAct is one of these. The catch is your income can’t be too high, and state returns often cost extra.

When looking for one, check the IRS’ website for legit sources.

In general, yes they are legit, at least the well known names are: TaxAct, TurboTax, etc. However, they are only free if your income is under a certain amount and if your return is not complex. If either is not true for you then they charge. See their respective web sites for the details. Also, only the federal return is usually free; for a state return. if you need one, there is an extra charge.

Thanks for the answers. I don’t have a huge income but have some capital gains and dividends to report, do these preparation services handle these, or will I need to upgrade (pay) for this service?

Oh the income limit is $57,000 by the way. You can file capital gains and such on Schedule D free just fine, I think it’s only not allowable if you have dozens of transactions to report.

I’ve used TaxAct for years…no capital gains and an income greater that $57,000…never paid a cent and have never had any problems in any way. From their website:

I am a bit paranoid about taxes (don’t want to piss off the IRS) so I almost always do the taxes by hand first to make sure the numbers match up, and this year TaxAct found some credits that I was entitled to but didn’t know about, and upon further research TaxAct was right and it meant a refund from the IRS instead of a payment to them, so I was very happy.

I recommend TaxAct to everyone. It is easy, thorough, accurate and fast. I have used it for my own taxes which are fairly simple and helping my mother with her more complicate taxes (especially the year my father died especially with all the pension, IRA, annuities and such) and it has always simplified the process and has never steered me wrong.

I have used TaxAct exclusively for the past four years. For the first few years of preparing my taxes online, I prepared my tax return with up to three different services to confirm the results before ultimately filing with TaxAct. The online system could not be easier to use.

I’ve used TaxAct for several years, too. It nags you to upgrade, but other than that, it’s reliable software for the job.

TurboTax allows you to do some returns free online, but only simple ones.

Not a proper GQ answer, but since others are relating opinions, here’s mine. TurboTax’s offer to pay any penalties, etc. if their program makes a mistake is BS. It made a mistake on my return 2 years ago. I tried to take them up on their offer. It is very hard, natch, to find out how to do so. Then they told me I had to upload some special file that was supposedly created by the software. No such file existed since I’d done it on line. Oh, then you now have to download the software we give you that we promise, honest to goodness, is identical to what you used on line two years ago. Then I had to re-enter all of the information with the downloaded software. The bottom line was wildly different from the original result, off by several powers of magnitude. I located the file they wanted and sent it in. Nope, they said, that problem you reported was not there. But it’s not the same software! Here’s the PDF file that your online program created, which I did save. Doesn’t count. Sorry. Repeated requests for a re-evaluation were ignored.

ETA, I’ll probably use some on-line software just to get a start, and to see if there’s anything new I might miss, but I won’t trust it and will go over everything by hand like I did for decades.