You’ve long known IGN is the best place for video game and entertainment news, but did you know we’re branching out into giving you the hottest new info on free tax preparation software? OK but seriously – these days we’re spending more time digging into complex, complicated tech and services like Gaming Monitors, VPNs, and so-on to let you know what’s worth your time and money and what isn’t. We know all too well doing your taxes sucks, so we went ahead and rounded up the best and easiest ways for you to file for free and maximize your refund. We just want to help, is all.
The freest and most direct way to file is to go right to the IRS website and start from there. But if you have questions or need assistance, good luck. That’s why we put together this list. There are lots of ways you might be leaving money on the table without even realizing it, for example. Like, if you make income from streaming, did you know you can write off games and your equipment? It’s true. I didn’t know that until I had my taxes done professionally and now I’m kicking myself for not having monetized my hobby earlier.
You have until April 15 to get your 2018 taxes filed, but if you want to get any refund you might be owed sooner rather than later, it’s best to file as soon as you can. Usually it takes 21 business days for your refund money to post, if you set up direct deposit and use one of these services to e-file. If you do your taxes the old fashioned way and mail them out, expect at least 6-8 weeks of thumb-twiddling before you see your money.
H&R Block is one of the most instantly recognizable names in the tax prep game. I went to H&R Block last year, to untangle my nightmare of 1099s and new house papers and it was terrible. But on-site was wonderful and helpful. This year my situation isn’t nearly as obtuse, so I might just go ahead and try to do it online on my own.
The most basic filing plan is free for federal and state, and will work for most people. The other plans are $22.49, $37.49, and $59.99 for federal filing, plus $36.99 per state. It’s free to start your filing, though, which is even better. There’s also live help available from tax experts should you run into any hiccups along the way.
I used TurboTax for many, many years for filing my taxes and I really appreciate how simple it makes the process. The best part was how easy it was to import the previous years’ tax info once I made the initial jump to TurboTax. If my filing last year hadn’t been such a nightmare, requiring an expert, I would have used TurboTax again.
Just like H&R Block, the basic tax filing plan is free. If you work one job and have a W2, you can file both state and federal for no cost. The other plans range are $39.99, $59.99, and $89.99, depending on your situation. You don’t pay until you file, so you can go ahead and do all the work and see how much it’s going to set you back.
TaxSlayer is appealing on name alone. It evokes thoughts of destroying your state and federal obligations, or perhaps some manner of heavy metal certified public accountants. At any rate, TaxSlayer’s basic plan is free, and like the others, all the plans are free to start and you don’t pay until you file. State returns above the free tier are $29 per state, and there are $17, $37, $47 and $57 plans available. For most people, the free plan will work beautifully, but barring that, you probably qualify for the $17 plan (plus the $29 for state filing).
If you want to save even more money over the previous options, FreeTaxUSA is a good option. The basic filing is free, as is the case with everything else, but deluxe returns are only $6.99. Not only that, filing a state return with FreeTaxUSA is just $12.95. It also has live chat support, if you get stuck on something, as well as “Audit Assist, and unlimited amended returns” as part of the deluxe package.
CreditKarma tax filing is free. There’s no deluxe or premium upcharge: you file your taxes for free no matter your circumstances. Now, any economist will tell you there’s no such thing as “a free lunch,” and CreditKarma makes its money recommending financial products to suit your needs based on analyzing your data when you sign up for a free credit report. Tax preparation is part of its umbrella of services, so you’re probably going to see some suggested financial products or ways to spend your tax refund. It’s a small price to pay, considering it’s a free service otherwise.
Looking to spend that fat new refund? Check out some of our buyer’s guides to the best 4K TV for gaming, the best gaming chairs, the best gaming laptops, and more. Treat yourself.