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Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Business News

Filers have a Feb. 15 deadline to use the TurboTax Live Full Service Basic to file a simple return for free. This product allows you to hand over your return, completely, to a tax expert.

Tax filers using TurboTax Live Basic to file a simple return would pay nothing if they file through March 31. This product offers help from a tax expert along the way.

TurboTax Free Edition is available the entire season.

Who has a simple return? According to TurboTax, it's a taxpayer who is filing only a Form 1040. TurboTax Free Edition, TurboTax Live Basic, and TurboTax Live Full Service Basic help tax filers whose tax situations can include W-2 income, limited interest and dividend income, opting to take the standard deduction, as well as those who claim the earned income tax credit, child tax credit, and report student loan interest.

What are some restrictions?

Before you assume that you'd be able to file your tax return for free check out what restrictions apply online.

Many times, you're not going to be able to use free tax software online if you've sold stock, sold your home, had mortgage interest, paid real estate taxes or have freelance income.

TurboTax says that situations not covered by TurboTax Free Edition, TurboTax Live Basic, and TurboTax Live Full Service Basic include returns that opt for itemized deductions, report unemployment income reported on a 1099-G, report business or 1099-NEC income, include stock sales, rental property income and credits, and report deductions and income reported on schedules 1-3.

If you own a small business, for example, TurboTax is going to recommend that you opt for its service for "self-employed" that is priced at $119. The filing of a state return cost an extra $49 per state. The software for self-employed searches for more than 500 deductions and credits.

 

Some offers might work better for one person than another.

H&R Block is advertising on TV this season that more people can file for free with them than TurboTax.

H&R Block told the Free Press that it offers some more forms under its free filing offerings than TurboTax, including Form 1099-G unemployment income, Form 8863 education credits, Form 1098-T tuition payment, Form 8615 involving the tax for children who have investment income of more than $1,900, the Schedule R credit for elderly or disabled filers, Form 1099-G for certain government payments, and Form 8915-F for the Qualified 2021 disaster retirement plan distribution and repayments.

Tax filers need to review their tax situations and forms, as they try to find the best free services, too.

The "Free File" system at IRS.gov continues to remain an option for many people, again it won't work for everyone. You'd have to pick a tax software provider that's participating in the system and would offer services for those in your situation. The IRS said 70% of the nation's filers are eligible for Free File.

If your adjusted gross income was $73,000 or less in 2021, you can use free tax software to prepare and e-file your tax return at IRS. gov.

Doing taxes is never really fun, but saving a bit more money along the way on tax prep can ease some of the pain.

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