Free tax help

March 13, 2011 8:59:05 PM PDT
Nobody likes to do taxes. In fact about 60 percent of Americans pay someone to prepare their tax returns, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

But if you're looking for ways to save, Consumer Reports says an online program lets you prepare and file free-and can even provide step-by-step guidance along the way.

It's via a government website, Anyone can use it to prepare and file federal tax forms at no cost. And for taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is $58,000 or less, it offers a lot more free help.

The IRS has partnered with private companies that offer free tax software to walk you through your federal returns. Free File lists software programs from all the big companies, including H&R Block and TurboTax.

It is important to enter data carefully. Even a small mistake can make a difference in what you get back. But Consumer Reports found that all the programs will let you stop, check information, and have things perfect before you file.

All the programs Consumer Reports tried through the Free File website were fairly simple. If you don't need to itemize-and about 70 percent of Americans don't-Consumer Reports says it's a fairly straightforward, fast process.

Consumer Reports says there's another good reason to prepare and file your taxes online: You could get your refund faster. A check might arrive in 10 days, compared with four to six weeks for returns filed by mail.