Published January 15, 2020.
The 10 Free File Alliance members can help.*
A new TurboTax® commercial suggests that "All people are tax people," meaning anyone can do their own taxes with the help of TurboTax.
That may be true. But regardless how we choose to complete our taxes each year, it doesn't mean we have to like doing it.
To help take some of the sting out of filing your taxes to your federal or state government, here's a quick overview of the 2020 tax season, with directions for completing your taxes for free or at a discount.*
80 days to file.
The IRS began accepting tax returns January 27, and has set Wednesday, April 15, 2020, as the final day to file your taxes. That gives you 80 days to file — or the same time it took Phileas Fogg to travel around the world in the Jules Verne novel.
Your tax statements and refunds.
Statements: We can't help you if your money is in some bank account (join STCU!), but if you're already a member of the credit union, your 2019 tax statements are scheduled to be available by January 31. Log into online banking to view your tax statements under the "Self-service" tab.
Refunds: To check if your tax refund is on the way, log into STCU's online banking and view pending direct deposits under the "Self service" tab.
The IRS says it can take three weeks to get your refund, but faster if you have it directly deposited into your checking or savings account. For direct deposit of your tax refund, use STCU's nine-digit routing number: 325182700.
File your own way.
In some ways, TurboTax and and other online tax preparation services have put the "fun" back into filing your taxes. (Hmm. Was it ever fun?) Their software programs carefully guide you through your tax return, allowing you to quickly import or photograph your W-2 forms, dividend statements, and other data from millions of employers, credit unions, investment companies, and more. They search for deductions you may have overlooked, check for possible mistakes, and give you options for paying your taxes or receiving a refund. They may even provide live CPA support to answer your questions or to tackle complex tax returns.
File for free, or save up to $15, when you file with TurboTax.
TurboTax is a great choice, but not the only choice. There are dozens of alternative services you could choose to complete your taxes online or in person.
Competitors, including TaxAct, Credit Karma, H&R Block, TaxSlayer, and Liberty Tax have do-it-yourself software and phone apps that let you securely and conveniently file your taxes online.
Or you can go old school with a professionally trained tax accountant, lawyer, or tax preparer available in most communities. They'll sit down with you to make sense out of IRS tax law changes and forms, ensuring that you'll file an accurate tax return on time.
More than 100 million Americans qualify to file taxes for free.
10 ways to file for free.*
Before doing your own taxes, pay a visit to the Free File Alliance website. This nonprofit group of tax software companies, including TurboTax, has partnered with the IRS to provide free electronic tax services to more than 100 million Americans who qualify.
If you earned less than $69,000 in 2019, you may be able to file your federal income taxes for free, saving yourself $20 to $150 in tax preparation fees. Just a couple of minutes at the IRS free file website will determine if you qualify for free filing. It also will show you which of the 10 alliance members can handle your specific tax situation. At least two of the tax preparation services offer Spanish-language versions.
Free File Alliance members.
This alphabetical list of Free File Alliance members is provided as a service to you. Products and services offered by alliance members are not endorsed or vouched for by STCU, and we accept no liability in connection with their use. Before linking to any of these companies, please see "third-party disclosures" below.
For various reasons, some online tax services do not belong to the alliance. Credit Karma, for one, offers free tax filing software in exchange for your data and willingness to receive financial advertising.
For free help in Spokane County, visit the Spokane Cash Coalition or call (509) 353-4851 to make an appointment to meet with an IRS-certified volunteer at a local library or community center. The coalition, which prepared nearly 5,000 tax returns last year, is coordinated by the Spokane County United Way.
You can also find federal resources at USA.gov to help senior citizens, the disabled, members of the military, and others.
As always, please consult your tax adviser on any tax-related questions. Because like it or not, it's time to file your taxes.
*Not everyone is eligible to file taxes for free. Consult with your tax adviser.