Mar 28 2008

The fastest way to get your tax return – file for free online

It’s tax season and April 15 is coming closer. This year I decided to file my taxes online and thought I write a short review of my experience. First of all I have to say I was surpised how easy it was. Filing online is a great way to optimize your tax return filing – free and fast!

There are many options to file a federal return for free online. In general each service has a certain income limit that allows to file for free. I found this great page that gives a good overview about different services where you can file your taxes for free. I decided that H&R Block’s Tax Cut was the best option for my situation.

Before you start your tax return get all your documents together. I had all my information handy next to the computer. This way filing is very easy. Before you file inform yourself about different deductions and if they apply to your case. Bankrate has a lot of great information about that on their website. The good thing about H&R Block is that you get a password and can save all your information. You can then come back later and fill out the rest. The online system is very easy and intuitive and after you completed everything you have the option to check your data. I discovered some typing mistakes I made this way. After that I read everything twice to make sure I had no more mistakes.

You can send out your return directly to the IRS and you will also receive an email confirmation. To check how soon you can expect your return go to the IRS website to get your refund status. All together I had a very easy time filing my taxes, convenient from home and completly free. I didn’t file my state return with H&R, since they charge for this. Instead I went to the California Tax Board website and used their free software. The state return is much shorter and easier than the federal. You have to type in all your information again, but hey it’s free (just go to your state’s website to see if the offer free filing online)!

All this took me between 1 and 2 hours (I checked everything twice to make sure I got it right – If you are quick you can probably be much faster). I also choose direct deposit which speeds up your return. I received my state refund one week after filing and my federal refund two weeks after filing. Not bad!

This is for sure the fastest way to get your refund I know of. I would advice evrybody to check if you qualify for free filing and use the available online programs. I liked H&R Block, but I also heard good things about other online filing options. Just do some resaerch before you decide which offer is best for you.

And to see what the government does with you taxes there is a great website for that too!

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