5 ways to easily file taxes online

It’s that time of year again: Taxes must be filed by Tuesday, April 17 in order to be on time in the US.

If you waited until last minute to file, you’re not alone and there’s no need to fret. There are a lot of great web services that let you fill out all your information and file online, many even for free!

Which one to pick? It largely depends on what types of returns you need to file, as well as how much help you need during the process. Whether you have the most basic W-2 paperwork or you’re overwhelmed with a grocery list of itemized deductions, independent contractor work and student educational expenses, there’s a web app out there for you.

TaxACT Online

Supports: Just about everything, from basic W-2 forms to more complex returns involving 1099 contract work.

I’ve given just about every tax web app out there a try at some point or another, and affordable, comprehensive TaxACT Online is my favorite hands down. TaxACT Online offers three different versions of their web app – Free, Deluxe and Ultimate. If you’re relatively comfortable filing taxes on your own, the free edition works just fine. I was able to file a basic W-2, a handful of 1099-MISCs and even a 1098-E related to student loan interest payments with relative ease.

TaxACT Online will prompt you to provide information about your background and will tailor your filing experience accordingly. You do have to keep track of your forms though, just in case something gets missed. If you’re confused or have questions, the app’s got an extensive FAQ page where you can find just about anything, as well as useful video documentation. If you want to be able to import last year’s data or take advantage of additional phone support, consider paying the fee for the Deluxe Federal Edition or save money by bundling your state filing with the Deluxe Edition by purchasing the Ultimate Bundle.

Note that there’s an additional $17.95 fee to file your state return with TaxACT Online’s Free and Deluxe editions.

H&R Block Online

Supports: Comprehensive filing of just about any basic and complex tax form for beginners and more experienced users alike.

One of the most well-known names in tax preparation software, H&R Block Online is a popular finance and budget tool that can help you prepare your tax documents for filing via your browser. A huge perk to choosing H&R Block Online is its free audit support and 100% accuracy guarantee. H&R Block will reimburse you any resulting IRS penalties and interest charges if they’re incurred through a mistake on H&R Block’s part.

In addition, this app offers free expert advice from community tax experts in the form of a detailed Q&A section with step-by-step guidance as you fill out your return.

There is an additional $29.95 fee to file your state return.

TurboTax

Supports: 1040EZ, 1040A, 1040 and other simple federal tax returns.

At least where I live, TurboTax seems to be the default program people turn to when they’re in a pinch and need to file their taxes quickly. Its CD-ROM version is sold in a lot of different stores. You can also take advantage of TurboTax’s Free Federal Version online without needing to install a program onto your PC.

TurboTax’s online service is a step-by-step process that’s easy to use if you’ve got a simple return to file. If you encounter issues, you can ask questions on TurboTax’s Live Community online and get answers from TurboTax experts and other users. There are also several detailed tutorials and a FAQ section available. If you encounter a technical issue, TurboTax also conveniently offers free tech support via live chat.

Note that if you have a mortgage, medical expenses, run your own business or have recently sold investments, you’ll need to purchase one of TurboTax’s paid plans as TurboTax’s Free Edition doesn’t cover tax schedules C, D, E or F.

As with all tax programs, there is an additional $39.95 fee for filing your state return.

OnePriceTaxes

Supports: Bundled federal and state simple or complex returns with the option to try first, pay once done.

If you’re more concerned with having guaranteed audit protection and one specific price for filing both federal and state taxes, you should take a look at OnePriceTaxes. This app handles just about anything you could imagine, from basic tax forms to itemized deductions, dependents, investments and retirement income.

OnePriceTaxes doesn’t offer a free federal e-file service, which might be a negative for some users. If you need to file both federal and state taxes, you should give this site a look though, because at at $14.95, the cost to file both is in many instances cheaper than other sites’ combined free federal return with state filing fee. Unemployed individuals can also take advantage of OnePriceTaxes’ free tax filing offer. You can also receive a $3 discount if you’re a Facebook users or if you refer a friend.

Note that OnePriceTaxes does not have support for every state. The following states are not supported for filing your 2011 state tax return: Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Vermont and Wisconsin.

CompleteTax

Supports: The most basic commonly used forms in an easy-to-use interface.

It’s great that a lot of other programs out there offer support for a variety of different forms, but what if you just have a basic W-2 or similar and want the simplest way to file before Tuesday? That’s where CompleteTax comes in and can greatly help you out. It’s also currently free to e-file your federal return (reg. $9.95). While it does offer some selection in that it lets you choose your marital status and a few different basic schedules, the beauty of CompleteTax is its simplicity.

Even better, CompleteTax supports the earned income tax credit (EITC) for individuals who didn’t earn a whole lot of money last year. This credit can help ensure you get a larger refund in some instances. In the event that you do end up getting stuck, CompleteTax offers technical support via chat.

Keep in mind the state filing fee for using CompleteTax is $39.95.

Which web-based tax filing app do you prefer? Why do you use it over other options?

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