Since 2003, some 33 million tax returns have been filed using the Internal Revenue Service’s Free File program. If you haven’t tried it yet, you might want to give it a shot this year…and get a quicker refund.
Free File is made available in partnership with various private tax preparation services, and allows lower income taxpayers to do their taxes online for free, and to file electronically. Taxpayers with an adjusted gross income up to $57,000 can take advantage of the program. Even if you earn too much to qualify, you can still use the fillable forms online.
The IRS offers an interactive search feature, Help Me Find a Free File Company, to assist you in locating a firm to assist with your Free File. Cross-reference their suggestions with www.bbb.org. Most of the companies that have partnered with the IRS are BBB Accredited Businesses…but not all of them.
Whether you choose to file online or by snail mail, use a professional tax preparer or go the do-it-yourself route, it’s important to avoid common mistakes. Here are the ones that the IRS sees all the time:
- Wrong Social Security Number
- Wrong filing status (single, married, etc.)
- Math mistakes
- Wrong bank information
- Forgetting to sign your return
- Careful proofreading can eliminate these mistakes, so double and triple-check your numbers. Mistakes might be costly if you end up paying more than you truly owe, or if you are penalized for not paying enough. The wrong bank information can slow down your refund. And an unsigned return? It just doesn’t count at all.
For more details, check out this week’s column from personal finance reporter Michele Singletary in The Washington Post.