The IRS has a new option called FreeFile. Like the name suggests it is a free service. It uses 'partner's websites' and is available on January 20th, 2015. The IRS says more than 70% of people can use it. You may access it from the IRS website.
My question is can it be used for us - those that have a schedule C or is it somehow restricted?
Happily shopping Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut
Usually they charge you extra to file your state return. Also, the services are free only if your AGI is under a certain amount. If your AGI exceeds a certain amount one year, or you need to file certain forms not supported by the free version, you can conveniently upgrade to a paid version without having to re-enter all of your information.
And as far as I know, most of the free services support Schedule C.
It's that "conveniently upgrade to a paid service without having to re-enter your information" that makes it work for them.
Instead of going to a tax preparer who can give you advice, you get referred to a company who lets you flounder around on their software until you give up and go for the paid version. So it's not free for a lot of people. The ones who can actually do it for free could do it themselves with turbo tax's free or paid version or could get forms from the library and do it.
What makes me mad as a tax preparer is that I have to pay the IRS $65 a year for the privilege of being able to prepare taxes for pay, and they take that $65 and buy ads encouraging people not to use a tax preparer. On the one hand, they want people to get competent service from experienced tax preparers, and on the other hand they encourage people who know nothing about tax law to do it themselves for free. And why might they do that? Because people who don't know anything about taxes will make mistakes in the IRS's favor. The mistakes they make that are in their own favor, the IRS will catch and be sure to collect the taxes. The mistakes they make that cost them money due to their lack of experience the IRS will never look for. (It will catch errors in reported withholding, but it won't tell you that you could have depreciated your computer or taken a per diem rate when traveling instead of saving Burger King receipts.)
Seniors can usually get free tax preparation through senior centers, military can usually get it on base. These would be face to face with an experienced tax preparer. If you qualify, I would suggest using one of those than those bait and switch companies that do the "free file."
I'm all in favor of people doing their own taxes because they should know what is on that tax return and how it got there. But if you're new to mystery shopping I would suggest paying someone to help you the first year. Then you at least have an example return to follow and maybe next year you can try it yourself.
This year there will be questions about healthcare on the return. If you don't understand what that means on the tax return-- please get some help.
Time to build a bigger bridge.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/20/2015 02:35PM by dspeakes.