Kimberli Youngblood, Report Writer, Date Support Specialist and Purdue Alumni
cartoon man with briefcase flowing of money
This is a question all taxpayers have faced at one time or another. The dreary thought of the men in black suits showing up at your door to collect taxes drives people to complete their taxes. I imagine most have heard their elders say that there were two sure things in life: taxes and death. Regardless though, we still are left each year with the question of whether we should file our own taxes or use a professional tax preparation service.
Over twenty years ago, an option to purchase your own software that would be updated on the new federal tax laws did not exist. When you completed your taxes, you paid a hefty price to a tax preparer. This was unless you knew how to decipher the tax laws, prepare your own 1040 by pencil on paper forms, and then write it all again in ink for the final form. Times sure have changed.
Individuals are no longer limited to a professional tax preparer or reading the fine print on all the new tax laws while filling out the paper form(s). Today, the majority of people who want to file their taxes look for the ability to electronically file at the most reasonable cost.
One place I have found helpful in retrieving information on how to file your taxes is the IRS website. The IRS website contains vital information on the file format your e-file should be in whether you file it yourself or have a professional tax preparer complete your taxes for you. This information is available free of charge, at your fingertips, and at the click of a button. If you do not have internet available at home, you can access this information at your local library.
There are many choices on federal tax preparation. The sites listed below offer information and links to the IRS website to assist in choosing a method to electronically file your taxes in the right file format. If you stand in a store having difficulties determining which e-file provider or software to use, visit the IRS website to see what information is available.
For free federal tax filing, if you are at or below an adjusted gross income of $57,000 per year, you can use most of the software links listed at their websites for free.
The IRS has a website that allows all taxpayers to use the e-file option for free.
For Indiana residents, you can free e-file for state taxes as well, information links for those residents who qualify to file their state taxes. Check with your state website to see what may be available for filing your state taxes to at a reduced cost or for free.
paper tax forms
It is important to determine which option best fits your situation; filing your own taxes or using a professional tax preparer. It is important to decide how much you wish to spend for completing your yearly federal and state tax preparation out of those same wages to justify the cost.