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Avoid the Bait and Switch: File for Free this Year

Want to file your taxes for free? Sorry, I meant REALLY free and not fake free. It' isn't that hard and I show you how here. No bait and switch here, just solid advice to pass onto your kids.

Robotax software certainly sounds good, but it can be more challenging than it sounds. The bait and switch techniques are down right criminal and the advertising that suggests taxes are easy one minute and so hard you need a seasoned professional the next are almost comical. Robotax does not file State Taxes for free and very few people (especially families) actually qualify for the free version of these. Many think they do, but they do not.

So what really is the best way to file your own taxes? Consolidated Bookkeepers suggests using two programs that are actually free and while not guaranteed to be the easiest, they are free and manageable for the average Joe with some basic knowledge. Here is our guideline to filing your own taxes for free.

Tip 1. You may qualify for Earned Income Credit and not know it. Sadly, many robotax software programs are unable to compute this for you. Visit this IRS page to see if you qualify.  A family of five earning less than $50,000 a year can get a tax credit of up to $6,000 in addition to the refund calculated using free robotax software. (really)

Tip 2: Make sure that you have a copy of last years return (or your IRS PIN number). It is required to verify your identity when E-filing. Second, make sure you have all your W-2, 1099, 1098, and 1099-HC (proof of Healthcare) forms or any other tax forms.

Tip 3: When filing, you should always do your Federal taxes first. The state will ask for certain items from your Federal Return so do that one first.

Tip 4: Log onto this IRS approved website. https://www.freefilefillableforms.com  The site is not 100 percent until Feb. 15 this year as a few forms are not available yet (Very few). Get the list here. I like this program as it automates the old-fashioned way of doing taxes. Rather than asking endless questions, it displays the forms and auto-fills most of it for you including calculations.

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