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When it comes to filing your tax return, millions of Americans choose H&R Block or TurboTax. Both providers offer free 1040EZ/A federal returns, competitively priced state returns, and helpful (albeit expensive) packages for more complicated tax preparations.
While both services are reliable, there are a handful of other options worth considering, especially if you’re looking to receive the biggest return possible.
So as you search around for the best tax preparation service, consider some of these less popular, but just as legitimate options.
(Note: The deadline to file your taxes is Tuesday, April 17, so it’s no biggie if you haven’t filed yet — a lot of people haven’t. As of Feb. 23, nearly 52 million returns have been processed, with 40.5 million receiving a refund.)
Credit Karma is the go-to resource for free credit scores, but last year it also started a tax preparation service, filing more than 1 million tax returns in 2017. The best perk of using this service is that the software allows users to file their 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ forms for free. Credit Karma also files state returns from 42 states and the District of Columbia free of charge. More than the nice price tag, the site guides users through the preparation process with easily worded questions on it’s simple and clean interface.
Even so, the service does have some shortcomings. Credit Karma is unable to do multiple state returns or file state taxes without filing federal taxes. The software is also missing form 1116 for foreign tax credits, and form 2555 detailing foreign earned income.
If you have a very complicated return, or need a lot of assistance, this probably isn’t the service for you. The live chat support feature is only for tech support questions, so you’re on your own if you have tax questions. However, if you have a straightforward return, Credit Karma is quick, easy, and free!
Free Tax USA
Free Tax USA was founded in 2001, has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and is an authorized Internal Revenue Service e-file provider. Creating an account on the site is free, as is e-filing your federal tax return. But the service isn’t totally free. Users must pay $12.95 to file their state returns, and an upgrade to the deluxe edition cost $6.99.
The best part about Free Tax USA is that the free version comes with most of the forms you’ll need to complete the filing process, even sections like self employment (Schedule C), capital gains transactions (Schedule D), and rental real estate (Schedule E). In fact, there’s no need to upgrade to the deluxe version unless you want extra help. This spruced up version gives you live chat support, unlimited amended returns, and assistance if you’re audited.
Still, no service is perfect. Free Tax USA doesn’t have every form you will need to e-file. Items not supported include foreign employment income (Form 2555), Nonresident alien returns (Form 1040NR) and at-risk limitations (Form 6198).
TaxSlayer provides a comparable service to popular providers, but at a much lower price. Users can e-file their federal 1040EZ for free, which includes a free state return. TaxSlayer is so easy to use that its mobile app allows users to take a photo of their W-2, upload it, and skip manually entering their tax information.
The free package also includes unlimited email and phone tech support, which is different than tax support. If you want to ask a professional for help through live chat or email, you’ll have to buy the premium package for $35, which also provides audit assistance, and W-2 import. A $22 fee to file state returns will be charged for the premium package.
After e-filing, you can get your refund sent via direct deposit, a paper check, or an American Express Serve debit card. Users do have the option to pay for software fees (ie. the $35 you spent to upgrade) with their refund money, but doing so comes with a $25 charge. TurboTax and TaxAct also charge similar fees.
IRS Free File
Going to the IRS seems like an obvious choice, but it bears repeating. You need to have earned below $66,000 a year, IRS Free File provides a list of software you can use to file your taxes for free. Some will even file your state return for no charge. These companies are IRS approved and include 1040.com, ezTaxReturn, H&R Block Free File, and TaxAct free file.
Brittany is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.