It isn’t too difficult to find a place to file your federal tax return for free, but finding a service to file your state return for free is another story.
I did a little digging and found a few options to consider. But, let’s first start with getting a free federal return…
File your federal return for free!
If your AGI (adjusted gross income) for 2011 is less than $57,000, it should be very easy for you to get your federal tax return filed for free. In the past I have gone to the IRS free efile webpage, because they have links to a bunch of tax preparers that offer free tax return filing (for Federal anyway). Some of them offer a state return to be filed for free as well, but most don’t.
Watch this video for the specific instruction on how to use the IRS Free File system:
If you are interested in this option, you will have to use the links on the IRS page in order to get the free efile deal they are offering. Many of the tax preparation websites listed will not offer you the free efile if you go directly to their website.
How to file your state return for free!
As you have probably noticed, many places offer a free filing of a Federal return but don’t offer free state filing. But there are a few ways to get your state tax return done for free.
1. Free state tax filing websites
MyFreeTaxes.com - This is a not-for-profit with funding from the Walmart Foundation, The United Way and H&R block – and they offer free state and federal tax returns if you meet the criteria. According to their website, “most Americans can file their taxes for free online or offline (we have a van tour across the country), state and federal, as long as they make under $57,000 per year.”
TurboTax Freedom – The free version of TurboTax is available to filers with adjusted gross income of $30,000 or less. If you live in one of the following states they will also allow you to file your state return for free… AL, AR, AZ, GA, ID, IA, KY, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, NY, ND, NC, OK, OR, RI, SC, VT, WV. If your state is not listed it will cost you $14.95 to file the state return.
On-line Taxes – This one is pretty simple. You just need to be under 20 years of age and you can get your federal and state return filed for free. If you don’t qualify both returns cost $7.95. They are a little bit different than many of the other places in that they offer free customer service with a toll-free number, E-mail, and Live tax help. They also allow you to view the forms BEFORE paying.
Taxhawk – Prepare, print, and file your federal taxes online for FREE! Your state tax return is FREE if your federal AGI is less than $20,000 and you live in the following states:
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, or Wisconsin.
Beehive.org – Filing your own taxes with BeeHive.org is easy. In order to be eligible free federal and state income tax filing, you need:
- Earned income in 2011 of less than $57,000
- A valid email address
- A valid Social Security Number (or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number)
TaxSlayer – TaxSlayer.com offers FREE online tax preparation and e-file of federal and state income tax returns if your household income is less than $56,000 AND you can answer “Yes” to any of the following:
- Are age 25 or younger or age 65 or older
- Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
- Federal (AGI) Adjusted Gross Income is $10,000 or less
- Serve as active duty military (including Reservists, Coast Guard, and National Guard). Taxpayers must have a Form W-2 from the Military for the tax year in which they are filing.
UPDATE: Tax Slayer no longer offers Free state tax filing.
2. Go to your local state government website
Also, you can go directly to you state’s Department of Revenue website to see if they offer a free filing option. For a shortcut, head over to this page which has links to each states free efile (if they have one).
3. Get the paper forms and mail it in
Yes, it sounds pretty archaic, but if you really want to file your state return for free and don’t qualify for the options listed above, this might not be a bad option. If you have already completed the Federal form online, it should be pretty easy to fill out the state return. You can get the forms from your local library or you can print them off at your state’s Department of Revenue website.
One last tip about e-filing your tax return
Do it before Friday morning. The government process tax returns in week-long blocks. So Friday morning at 11am, they process all the returns they received over the previous week. So if you can sneak it in right before the cutoff (Fridays at 11am EST) you will just get your refund that much quicker…