Benjamin Franklin once said nothing in life is certain except death and taxes. Only one is an out-of-pocket expense.
Americans can spend hundreds of dollars on help preparing and filing their taxes although there are plenty of ways to do it at no or little cost.
For starters, ambitious filers can always do it on their own by filling out the e-file forms the IRS — and in some cases, states — make available online. But an increasing number of tax preparation software companies offer to help — for free.
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Most recently, Credit Karma announced Credit Karma Tax, a do-it-yourself tax prep service at no cost. It covers a 1040 (the standard federal income tax form) and is best suited for simpler tax returns. (Those with multistate filings or a trust or farm subsidies would still be better off with an accountant who can offer advice as well as assistance, according to Credit Karma's founder and CEO, Kenneth Lin.)
Other services include TurboTax's Absolute Zero, which began three years ago for taxpayers filing federal 1040A or 1040EZ returns as well as state returns.