File 2010 Tax Return for Free

The 2011 tax season has already arrived. For those who don’t have to delay filing their returns (see who must wait to file 2010 federal income taxes in my 2011 tax deadline post), the sooner to file, the earlier to get their refund. While there are plenty of paid tools available if you want to prepare your return by yourself, you may also want to check out some free filing services because if you have simple taxes in 2010 and use 1040EZ to file your return, if you may be eligible to file your taxes for free.

Here are a few options if you meet the requirements and want to file your 2010 federal income taxes for free:

  • IRS Free File: The IRS offers free file service for taxpayers with a 2010 Adjusted Gross Income of $58,000 or less, whether its a individual return or a joint return for married couples. The IRS Free File is developed through a partnership between the IRS and a group of private sector tax software companies. You can either e-file your return (a 5-digit e-filing PIN is required) or use a fillable form from the IRS. There is no software to download, but to use IRS Free File, you must go to the IRS web site.
  • TurboTax Online Free Edition: TurboTax has a free online edition for taxpayers with simple federal taxes. It is designed for people who don’t need much tax guidance, regardless of income level (meaning that you could still file your taxes for free even if your AGI exceeded the $58,000 level set by the IRS. The TurboTax Free Edition doesn’t cover tax schedules C, D, E, and F which are required for people who own a business or have sold investments. Free e-file is included. The cost to file state taxes is $27.95.
  • H&R Block At Home Free: H&R Block is also offering free federal filing for those use 1040EZ. The 1040EZ form covers very simplest tax issues, therefore it can’t be used by taxpayer who is age 65 or older, has dependents, makes more than $100,000 per year,claims adjustment to income like alimony or tuition deductions, or itemizes deductions. You can use the free service either online or in person at one of H&R Block offices. Each state return costs an additional $39.00.
  • TaxAct Free Edition: The TaxAct Free Edition is available for everyone, regardless their income or age. It can handles both simple and complex tax returns and supports form 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ. It also includes all e-fileable IRS forms to handle all filing statuses and life situations. State tax return is $14.95 for the Free Edition.
  • CompleteTax Basic: The CompleteTax Basic is a free online filing tool for taxpayers who have simple taxes, such as those have child care or dependent care expenses and education expenses, such as student loan interest, tuition payment, education credits and tuition or fee deductions. If you have home mortgages,  have dividends or capital gains, or sold stock or bonds, then you can’t use the Basic version. Free e-file is included. State return costs another $16.95.

From the above short descriptions, it seems that TaxAct Free Edition is the best among these free tax filing tools because it can handle both simple and complex taxes while others only support simple tax situations. Plus, the price for the state return is also the lowest. However, since I have never used it before, I don’t have any personal experience to tell which one is better.

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