For a number of years, the IRS has run its program allowing individuals below a certain income threshold to file their federal income tax returns electronically for free. After using several outfits over the years, the best place I have found is TaxAct.com. Though the site features several more advanced features available for purchase, including its own Turbo Tax-competing software, the main draw here is its partnership with the federal free e-filing program.
The website provides a rich graphical user interface (GUI) that makes filing income taxes a breeze. My personal taxes are relatively simple, but the years I have used TaxAct, I typically go from start to finish in around an hour. Unlike many GUI-rich websites, it runs well in all major browsers (Internet Explore, Firefox, and Chrome), and I have never encountered input errors or glitches.
Though Intuit heavily markets its paid Turbo Tax program for its deduction maximizer, years where I have comparison tested the two have revealed no differences. In fact, sometimes TaxAct asks me too many questions in trying to find deductions to take. When it comes to saving money, of course, that is not a bad thing. When comparing free with a $30 an up software purchase, TaxAct speaks for itself.
Not everyone is eligible for the federal free e-fil progam, of course, but for the large percentage of Americans who are, TaxAct is the best IRS partner website I have found in years of research. As is implied, the federal income tax return is filed for free. Using TaxAct to file a state return adds $14.95, but allows for the convenient transfer of data between tax forms. A more advanced version of TaxAct is available for those who want to import previous year's tax returns done through the site, which costs $9.95. When doing the 'deluxe' service, however, the state return adds only $8, which keeps the total price at a respectable $17.95.
Have a website or program you want to recommend? Had an experience with TaxAct you want to share? Add a comment!