Don't Waste Your Money: How to file taxes for free - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Don't Waste Your Money: How to file taxes for free

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(Toledo News Now) -

How do you plan to file your taxes this year? Millions of Americans continue to pay hundreds of dollars to storefront tax offices, when in many cases, that's no longer necessary because of a cheaper alternative.

The IRS is now open for business for the 2014 tax season, meaning you can file your taxes as soon as you receive your W-2 and 1099s. But before you head on down to your local tax office...stop! Ask yourself why you are paying someone to do your taxes, when you probably can do it yourself for free.

Simple Filing Turns Into Huge Bill

Last year when Megan Bader needed to file her taxes, she went to a storefront tax preparer. Bad idea. She says her simple filing turned into a huge bill.

"She explained what I was signing. I trusted what I was signing was what she was telling me. And she ended up charging me over $420 to do my taxes," said Bader.

More than $400 for what Bader says was a little more than an EZ form.

"I have nothing to claim: no kids, no property, no house," said Bader.

It turns out she could have done it herself online, and saved that $400.

Ways To File

Every year, people pay hundreds of dollars to tax prep services needlessly, when they could have filed for free through the IRS website, which links you to more than a dozen different companies.

The biggest requirement for 2014 is you must earn less than $58,000 a year. Since 70 percent of taxpayers meet that requirement, it's not a problem for most people. The only real catch is you may still have to pay $30 to file your state return. If your return becomes complicated, due to investments or child support, you may have to pay, as well.

Still, it's pocket change compared to giving $100, $200, even $400 to a storefront tax preparer who probably is not even an accountant.

Bottom Line

If you have a complex return, you understandably may not want to do it yourself. Consider a preparer who is also a professional accountant, that way they have the proper background to handle complicated tax issues, so you don't waste your money.

With the 2014 tax season here, the IRS reminds taxpayers to be aware that tax-related scams using the IRS name escalate this time of year. Click here for information and tips to protect yourself from identity theft.

Copyright 2014 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved.

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