Sign up for our FREE Monthly Email Newsletter
In addition to keeping in the financial know, you may be interested in checking your credit score and report.
¹The credit scores provided under the offers described here use the Equifax Credit Score, which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax. The Equifax Credit Score and 3-Bureau scores are each based on the Equifax Credit Score model, but calculated using the information in your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit files. The Equifax Credit Score is intended for your own educational use. It is also commercially available to third parties along with numerous other credit scores and models in the marketplace. Please keep in mind third parties are likely to use a different score when evaluating your creditworthiness. Also, third parties will take into consideration items other than your credit score or information found in your credit file, such as your income.
²The Automatic Fraud Alert feature is made available to consumers by Equifax Information Services LLC and fulfilled on its behalf by Equifax Consumer Services LLC.
³Equifax Credit Report Control™ is only available while you have a current subscription to Equifax Complete Premier. Locking your credit file with Equifax Credit Report Control will prevent access to your Equifax credit file by certain third parties, such as credit grantors or other companies and agencies. Credit Report Control will not prevent access to your credit file at any other credit reporting agency, and will not prevent access to your Equifax credit file by companies like Equifax Personal Solutions which provide you with access to your credit report or credit score or monitor your credit file; Federal, state and local government agencies; companies reviewing your application for employment; companies that have a current account or relationship with you, and collection agencies acting on behalf of those whom you owe; for fraud detection and prevention purposes; and companies that wish to make pre-approved offers of credit or insurance to you. To opt out of such pre-approved offers, visit www.optoutprescreen.com/.
4We will require you to provide your payment information when you sign up and we will immediately charge your card $4.95. After that, we will charge the card $19.95 for each month you continue your subscription. You may cancel at any time; however, we do not provide partial month refunds.
Equifax® is a registered trademark and Equifax Complete™ Premier is a trademark of Equifax, Inc. © 2014, Equifax Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. All rights reserved.
One of the fun things I get to do is interview folks from all the major tax-software companies to learn about their products and best advise my clients. The tax-software companies produce tax programs for online use and as boxed software. Which is the best choice for you?
What’s Available Online?
If you want to prepare your tax returns online, you have lots of options for free federal tax-preparation services. State tax returns are not included with these services. Check your state’s website to see if it offers free online filing.
Free Online Tax Services
Free Tax Service #1: IRS Free File Fillable Forms. Go directly to the IRS website, set up a login for yourself, and file a tax return with these forms.
Free Tax Service #2: Free File Alliance (FFA). FFA provides free federal efiled tax returns if your income is under $58,000. Many FFA partners also provide services to members of the military and seniors. One drawback: If you start working on your tax return and it doesn’t qualify for the FFA service, you must exit and start over elsewhere with paid software. Consider skipping FFA. Start with the next option.
Free Tax Service #3: Tax-software companies’ free service. Every major tax-software company offers free federal tax return preparation. Most include more forms and income types than ever. New customers can upload PDF copies of last year’s 1040 created by the major software companies. TaxACT can read anyone’s PDF files—and produce summaries for FAFSA applications. CompleteTax offers free filing for the unemployed or folks switching providers.
You get different levels of support from the various companies. TurboTax’s team of enrolled agents and CPAs staffs its “Ask a Tax Expert” phone lines and Live Community forums.
In all cases, you can start with the free tax return. If your situation is more complex, the software will alert you that you are moving up to a paid tax return. That’s a nice bonus; you won’t have to exit and start all over.
Paid Online Tax Services
Online personal federal and state tax-preparation prices range from about $15 to $80, depending on the complexity of your tax returns.
All the companies provide some audit support, but most paid audit-support services require a fee for up to three years.
In the Box
Boxed software is essentially the same as online software. The three main advantages of boxed software are
You get the same assistance and audit support for the boxed software as for the online version, depending on price.
People who help their family members prepare their tax returns will find the boxed software a better value. Anyone needing only one tax return should use the online services. Once you choose a provider, stay with it so your data rolls over to the following year’s tax return and you can access your prior years’ returns online.
The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.
Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.