If you’re new to the United States, you’ve got a lot on your plate from housing to employment to how to get a social security card. It can be overwhelming. Then add to that list this daunting question: How and where do I file my taxes?
The first thing you need to know is that, as a temporary or permanent resident of the United States, you are subject to the U.S. federal tax code, just like a citizen. In most states, you are also subject to a state income tax.
That means you do need to file your taxes if you’re an immigrant, as long as you have earned enough money in the previous year. (As of the 2021 tax year, the threshold was $12,550 for most single taxpayers or $25,100 for most spouses filing jointly.)
Fortunately, in addition to filing directly through the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), you have many options for user-friendly third-party solutions that can help you with the filing process, and many of them have free versions. With these tools, you can file all of your taxes online.
In this guide, we’ll explain five popular options for where to file your taxes.
While plenty of third-party options are out there, you can bypass all of them and file directly through the IRS using a paper form 1040 (U.S. Individual Income Tax Return). This method, however, is the slowest and will require you to wait the longest to receive any refund you might be owed.
If, like the majority of Americans, you would rather file your taxes online, you have two free options.
- Fillable forms (for any income) directly through the IRS. These forms must be filled out on your own with limited guidance and calculations.
- Guided tax preparation through a public-private partnership. You choose an offer from a third-party; if you meet the criteria (including an adjusted gross income of $73,000 or less), you can use the third-party system to file your taxes for free.
If you don’t qualify for free third-party filing and you don’t want to fill out the IRS’s free forms, you can pay to use any of the programs described below.
TurboTax is one of the most popular commercial options for tax filing in the United States.
As with most tax prep companies, TurboTax gives you the option to file with or without professional support. You’ll have the option to print and mail your forms, or you can file online for a fee. If you qualify, you can file federal returns online for free.
TurboTax gives you three options:
- Do your own taxes with the system’s step-by-step process and help text
- Add live expert help as you file
- Allow TurboTax to do your taxes for you
If you want to do your own taxes, you’ll have a price range of $0 to $89, depending on your needs. You’ll receive text-based guidance as you fill out your forms, but no live help.
If you want some expert help, the price range is $0 to $169. You’ll get on-demand access to experts when you have questions or problems, and TurboTax provides a full year of tax advice after you file.
Finally, the easiest path is for TurboTax to file for you. Costing up to $359, this is the most expensive, but if you’re busy or overwhelmed, it might be your best option.
TaxSlayer is another popular option for first-time tax filers. It even offers a free app. TaxSlayer’s options include:
- Simply Free ($0 if you qualify)
- Classic (most popular, $17.95)
- Premium ($37.95)
- Self-employed ($47.95)
The Simply Free option is available if your tax situation is simple. If you feel confident in gathering your tax forms and following on-screen prompts, this might be for you.
The classic option gives you guidance when you get stuck. It includes deductions and credits and provides all the forms you need to maximize your refund.
The premium option takes it to the next level by offering help from tax professionals. You’ll receive immediate access to assistance when you need it.
Finally, the self-employed option is for those who work for themselves.
TaxAct can also serve your tax filing needs. Like TaxSlayer, it provides four options:
- Free (if you qualify)
- Deluxe (most popular, $24.95)
- Premier ($34.95)
- Self-employed ($64.95)
The free version gets you the basic features, including the ability to report unemployment income and file for child tax credits.
The deluxe option has all the features of the free option, but adds the ability to claim quite a few more deductions and credits, like child and dependent care and mortgage interest.
The premier version builds off of the more basic options, allowing you to report more types of income, like a rental property or the sale of a home.
Finally, the self-employed version gives you everything you need to file your combined personal and business taxes, including a deduction maximizer and year-round planning resources.
H&R Block is a major player in the tax filing space. Like other tax services, it offers a range of packages for federal tax filing:
- Free (if you qualify)
- Deluxe ($46.95)
- Premier ($69.95)
- Self Employed ($94.95)
The free service is for those with simple and straightforward tax situations who meet the qualifications.
The Deluxe package adds support for homeowners, childcare expenses, and student loans.
At the premier level, you can report on investments, home sales, and rental properties.
The Self-Employed level is aimed at freelancers, contractors, and business owners.
All levels offer a feature called “Xpert Assist” through March 31, 2022.
H&R Block also allows you to have a tax professional file for you with their “Xpert Full Service” offering. Like the self-service options, full-service comes in four tiers, starting at $99.95 for simple federal filings and $279.95 for self-employed filers.
Where to File Your Taxes: The Bottom Line
Filing your taxes can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. The tax prep options above offer helpful tools that walk you through the process and make your tax filing experience easier.
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