Imagine my surprise when I realized TaxCut didn't even release a Mac OSX version this year. I suppose from a business standpoint it did make sense because the online version is operating system independent, but then why bother to brew a whole Windows version only to give it away for free anyway? But I digress.
My point is that I had to shop around for a new, Mac OSX compatible, option for calculating and e-filing my taxes. And with all this "free" software floating around I was determined to do it for far less than $55 this year.
The first thing I noticed is that if you have an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of less than $50,000 there are MANY options that are completely free. If you don't know what your AGI is, you can probably create an account at one of the services and use them to calculate your AGI (ex. I started my taxes at Turbotax.com - input my W-2 and 1099's but have not been charged because I have not printed or e-filed my return). Once you know your AGI, you can use the IRS e-file wizard to guide you toward free filing options for your circumstances (AGI and State). If you do not qualify based on AGI, read on...
I thought the big names were being quite affordable until I started calculating the cost to e-file a state return in addition to my federal, even though several offered a "combo" deal on e-filing both. I have not catalogued every pricing option but I have focused on an AGI greater than $50,000 who needs to submit a 1040 (I'm a homeowner claiming itemized deductions) along with a Massachusetts state return while using Mac OSX to calculate and e-file both returns. All Windows-only options have been discarded (TaxCut and TaxAct downloadable software basically).
Your mileage may vary, due to your needs, I just urge everyone to shop around before plunking down any money. Here's what I found:
|Product||Fed Only||State Only||Both|
|Taxcut Online Premium||$19.95||N/A||$44.90|
|TurboTax Online Essentials/1040EZ1||$9.95||N/A||$34.90|
|TaxAct Online Standard||FREE||$20.90||$12.952|
- When I started gathering this information, TurboTax was calling this product "Essentials" and they have since changed the name to "1040EZ" -- this implies that only the 1040EZ form is available with this option, but I can find no indication that the 1040EZ cannot be used to submit a 1040. This seems like a marketing attempt to steer 1040 submitters at the next tier up which is $10 additional for the federal return. If anyone can clarify this please leave a comment...thanks!
- This pricing was pretty unclear. They have an "ultimate bundle" for $15.95 that definitely includes both federal and state and both e-filings and apparently a whole other host of things you probably don't need.
Obviously there are more products out there, since this is a mini-roundup it's just what I deemed interesting. Feel free to comment below and point us all at competitive offers.
So far, I have only started to try TurboTax Online. Since you only pay when you file or print, I have entered the information I have so far to estimate my taxes. Once I have all my information (should be by 1/31...right?) I intend to actually file with eSmartTax before 2/15 and take advantage of their early bird special. I'm expecting a bit of a federal refund, so I want to file as soon as possible using direct deposit so we can all see that purple bar inch to the right!
- IRS list of e-file partners
- Mass list of commercial software options
- Jane Dough's TaxCut software deal at Staples
- SavvySaver chose TaxCut online
- Jim's got a tip on the Free TaxCut Federal and Deduction Pro download
- pfadvice points to the IRS's free file and warns against RALs
- MSN's article on fastest way to get your refund [via FMF]
- [did I miss your post about tax filing products? let me know!]