Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

Still haven’t filed your taxes? How to do your taxes on the cheap! April 9, 2012

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 10:21 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I have a confession.  I only JUST filed my taxes.  I swear I have an excuse.  I was waiting for months to get an obscure form from my old employer.  So even though I was almost ready to file before then, once I finally got the paperwork, I lost all my motivation.

But I just hopped onto TurboTax and finished everything up, e-filed, and called it a night.  (Of course I called it a night.  What else would I call it? :P)

And good news!  I’m getting a refund (yes, I think it’s good news).

I’m getting $10 back from the federal government, and a nice $443 from Massachusetts.

As an added bonus, I was able to file for free this year, because I won a TurboTax giveaway on Twitter through Vanguard.

But if you’re a slacker like me (i.e you waited until the last minute), and you want to file your taxes on the cheap, I’ve compiled a bunch of options from around the internets.

I’ve actually posted a list of discounts/options for a few years.  You can find my posts from 2009 and 2011.

So, there’s going to be a bit of copy/paste action below, with updates and new discounts I’ve found thrown in.

TurboTax Online Discounts:

First off, if you have a really easy return, you can use their free version for your Federal returns, and it looks to be ~$40/state filing, though you could probably get it cheaper using the next discount.

Fidelity:  Save 25% off Federal and State products.  In addition, you can access the “Basic” version, a cheaper blend between the free and Deluxe versions.  I initially filled out the “Basic” version, then “upgraded”, and saw that it made no impact on my returns.  So I’d recommend going with the Basic if you can.  (yes, I did that a few years ago, but this time I did it on purpose since I knew I was going to get TurboTax for free)

Bank of America:  Save 35% off Federal products.

Chase:  Save 35% off Federal products.  Not sure if you have to pay your taxes with your Chase card to be eligible.

Vanguard:  If you’re a Vanguard Customer, you can get 25% off Federal and State products.  It looks like they also have the “Basic” option available.  Unfortunately, unlike the Fidelity discount, it looks like you have to be a Vanguard customer.

Those are the best discounts I’ve found.  You can also get a bunch of different discounts (depending on what version you pick) through RetailMeNot.com.

I’ve used TurboTax every year since graduation, but there are plenty of other online options.

TaxAct:

They have a good free federal option, as well as a relatively cheap fancier version (deluxe) at $9.95 or deluxe federal + state return for $17.95.  I’m not as familiar with their product, so anyone with experience with TaxAct, let me know what you think of it.

IRS’s FreeFile:

If your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is less than $57,000 you can use one of these tax preparation sites for free.  If you want some help figuring out which site to use, you can answer a few questions to narrow down the list.  Some companies just offer free Federal filing, but some also offer free State filing as well.

If your AGI is more than $57,000, you can still e-file for free.  You can access the forms you need and fill them out through FreeFile by following the link here.

Also, for my fellow Massachusetts people, I came across this part of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue website where you can fill out and file your taxes for free.

One of the options for: people with low AGI (below $31k) OR Active Military with AGI below $57k OR if you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, TurboTax offers a the “Freedom Edition” which is free for federal and free or discounted for state (depending on your state of residence).

So, yes, this post is similar to previous year’s posts.  But I just wanted to share what I’ve found over the years.
How do you file your taxes?  The old pen and paper routine?  Online software?  Or hand over a shoebox of receipts to a trusted accountant?
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5 Responses to “Still haven’t filed your taxes? How to do your taxes on the cheap!”

  1. I’ve used TaxAct for the past 4 years and I really like it. The interface is super simple, with questions as basic as “Did you work for pay in 2011?” I don’t feel like I have to know anything about tax forms – I just answer the questions and it tells me what to do step by step.

    I do get annoyed because it asks a billion times if I want to upgrade to Deluxe, and I have to keep clicking things like “No, I don’t want you to store my data in case my computer gets burned up in a horrible house fire! I’d rather risk losing everything!” (Not really but you know what I mean!) Other than that, I’ve been very satisfied.

    • Stephanie Says:

      Cool, good to know TaxAct is a good site. I don’t know why I started on TurboTax specifically, but now that I used it, I’m hooked! It does help that they automatically save previous years data (you know, in case my house turns into a big enough mess that I can’t find old paperwork :P)

      To be honest, I almost LIKE doing my taxes because of those simple questions these websites ask. It’s like doing those Cosmo quizes back in the day. Are you a Samatha or a Carrie? Are you eligible for the EITC?

  2. Julia Says:

    I have used TurboTax for the past seven or eight years, and I basically only have one problem with it. The system allows you to create multiple usernames and passwords. Some years ago, I forgot my username and password, and created new ones. When I was audited last year, I couldn’t pull up two old tax returns using their system, and it took a long wait on customer service (plus a little bit of freaking out) to figure out that the second tax return was under a different username. Long story short: record your log-in information somewhere safe and always use just that one account.

    Also, and this is obvious, I should have printed my returns each year rather than relying on TurboTax. (Duh.)

  3. Talk to your friends who are CPA’s as well. I pay my friend $50 to do my taxes. The only downside is he sees how much I make 🙂

  4. Lee Says:

    You can actually do your taxes by hand (gasp!) and it doesn’t cost anything, either. Basically unless you change your deductions or something (if you have deductions), your taxes will be basically the same year after year, just with different numbers in there.


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