Via Tips for Filing Your Taxes
When it comes to filing your taxes, you have three main options:
1 Do it yourself – download the relevant forms from irs.gov, fill them out yourself, and send them by mail to the IRS. This option is free, but it’s also a lot of work, and you may be missing out on opportunities to increase your tax refund or decrease your tax liability. Average cost: FREE
2 Do it online – use an online service to file your taxes. Most e-filing services, including our recommended services below, will walk you through the tax process, eliminating the need to wade through fine print on complicated IRS forms. These services will also recommend ways to increase your potential tax refund. However, most services charge some money. Average cost: $12-95
3 Go to a professional – DC is full of professional tax consulting services, from large companies like H&R Block to private accountants. Talking to a person one-on-one will enable you to get live, in-person support to answer your questions and file your taxes to get the greatest tax refund. The downside is that this kind of personalized service tends to cost much more than online services. Average cost: $200-500
Filing By Yourself
The IRS Website contains all the forms you will need to file your taxes. You can find all the relevant forms right here.
You will likely need to file form 1040 and 1040 Schedule A. If you operate a business, you will likely have to file additional forms.
As an Independent Contractor receiving one or more 1099 forms, your tax needs will be different from those of the average salaried employee. We recommend this site for more help navigating 1099-based income tax filing.
There are many online services to help you prepare and file your taxes. These services tend to be easy to use and help you through the filing process, but they may also charge fees for use, especially if you are filing a complicated return with multiple 1099 forms.
Here is a list of a few recommended services:
TaxACT provides a free and easy-to-use service to help simplify your tax experience. It will take your information by asking you a series of questions, allowing the program to determine how to fill out your tax forms.
Advantages: TaxACT is easy to use and is the only online service that will let you file any return for free – you would only have to pay a small fee to file your taxes.
Drawbacks: This program has less online support available than other services on this list, and while simple, its interface may not allow you to get the maximum tax refund.
TaxSlayer’s service is comprehensive and easy to understand. Its format is designed to make it easy to enter your information and generate an accurate return.
Advantages: TaxSlayer’s standard service is only $13 plus a small filing fee for state taxes, making it an inexpensive option. They also have live support for any questions on the process.
Drawbacks: TaxSlayer’s relatively simple program may not find all opportunities to minimize your taxes and maximize your refund if you have a more complicated return with multiple 1099 forms and business transactions during the year.
H&R Block’s online service is backed up by its network of physical buildings around the country, giving it brand-name appeal. Its powerful service is easy to use and can provide more resources for more complicated income situations.
Advantages: H&R Block has great customer support, including a live calling line and in-person support at their tax centers, making this service the best if you need help.
Drawbacks: Their program is more expensive, especially for those with complicated tax situations. Someone with multiple sources of income and other complications would likely have to upgrade to their premium service, about $45 plus filing fees.
Turbotax is the most sophisticated and powerful tax filing program available online. It walks you through a simple interview questionnaire much like TaxACT, making the filing process easy, but it has a wider array of resources and options available to maximize your tax refund and minimize your liability.
Advantages: TurboTax will provide the highest possible tax refund of any online service and make sure everything is filed correctly. Their live support is also helpful if you have questions.
Drawbacks: Their service is also the most expensive, costing about $80 plus filing fees to file a more complicated tax return with 1099 income.
There are some free in-person sites throughout DC where you can receive assistance with your forms. We are told these sites become very crowded as April 1st nears, so plan ahead for a better experience!
If you do not qualify for the free services, or wish to pay for a professional’s assistance, H&R Block has many locations in our area. You can make an appointment online or walk-in. Make sure to review this checklist of documents you’ll need to bring to your appointment.
The information on this website is not offered as legal, financial planning or tax advice. Examples of specific advantages and drawbacks are based on stated IRS Guidelines and on other assumptions which may or may not apply to your personal situation. We suggest that you seek the advice of a tax advisor, attorney, and/or financial planner to make certain that you choose the right option for your personal circumstances. All material is presented solely as educational information and is not a solicitation, recommendation or offer for any of the services or products listed here.