I am a big fan of tax software. I use it to prepare my state and federal tax returns each year. Even if your tax situation is a little complicated, don't let that scare you away from using software. I've had household employees (babysitters for my kids), rental property, capital gains and self-employment income -- all things that require extra forms to be filled out and that can trip you up as your prepare your returns. But the software I used helped ensure that I completed the proper forms correctly.
What I like most about tax software, though, is that it's cheaper than hiring an accountant. And, if you know where to look, you can find discounts for tax preparation programs -- or even get software for free.
Find out if you're eligible for free software. If your adjusted gross income is $57,000 or less, you may be eligible for the IRS Free File program. Fifteen companies offer free federal tax software through the program, but each has its own eligibility criteria in addition to the income requirement and some charge for state tax returns. Learn more about the IRS.gov Free File (opens in new tab) program.
Search for coupons and coupon codes. Before you purchase tax software online, scan coupon sites, such as Coupon Cabin (opens in new tab) and Coupons.com (opens in new tab), for a coupon code that could help you save money. Offers.com (opens in new tab) has a tax preparation savings center that has coupons and a table that compares features and pricing of the top tax preparation services. If you find a good coupon, use it now because tax-prep coupons usually expire before April.
Check if your financial institution offers a discount. Some banks and brokerages offer software discounts to customers. For example, Capital One is offering its customers $10 to $20 off TurboTax online products.
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Award-winning journalist, speaker, family finance expert, and author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk.
Cameron Huddleston wrote the daily "Kip Tips" column for Kiplinger.com. She joined Kiplinger in 2001 after graduating from American University with an MA in economic journalism.