Consumer Reports: Filing your taxes online

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Dragging your feet on filing your taxes this year? It might be as easy as going online or using an app on your phone. (WPVI)

Dragging your feet on filing your taxes this year? It might be as easy as going online or using an app on your phone.

Some tax-prep products are free, and even the paid versions are typically cheaper than using an accountant.

But will they get the job done right?

For tax year 2015, IRS reports show 40% of taxpayers who filed electronically did not use a paid tax preparer.

So Consumer Reports took a look at the three most popular products to help you prepare your taxes yourself.

For Julia Brown, filing her taxes is all about convenience, which is why she uses the popular software Turbo Tax.

"Between working and going to school I need something quick, easy, get it done. Because my tax situation is straightforward, I think it's a good solution and a safe solution for me," she said.

"We looked at the three most popular tax software products. That's TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxAct - and we found they're all pretty good for simple situations especially," said Tobie Stanger, Consumer Reports Money Editor.

And filing on your own has become even easier with the help of smartphones. All three allow you to automatically upload your W2 information by simply taking a photo.

And of the three, Consumer Reports says TaxAct has the best value for people who itemize, own a home, or have simple investments.

Between H&R Block and TurboTax, Consumer Reports says H&R Block offers a few more free services, which could make it more attractive to do-it-yourself newbies. For instance, it offers live unlimited tax advice by phone from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. Eastern time on week days and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

But TurboTax's more generous charitable deduction valuations, for example, make it a better choice for seasoned DIY-ers. Consumer reports also likes it better than H&R Block for its guidance on health coverage related to the Affordable Care Act. TurboTax tells you what to do with Forms 1095-B and 1095-C, which many taxpayers received for the first time in 2016.

"If your tax situation becomes more complicated, say you're self-employed, you're probably going to have to upgrade. That could cost an extra $10 to $60 dollars," said Stanger.

As for Julia Brown, she saw her federal refund automatically deposited into her bank account 12 days after she filed.

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