Legal.com - Updated Jan 25, 2013
There are a number of ways available for you to prepare and file your 2012 income tax return(s). We'll start with the easiest (that you can prepare and file for free), and work our way up to cover solutions for more complex returns.
IRS Free File:
The IRS Free File program is available to taxpayers with 2011 Adjusted Gross Incomes ("AGI") of $57,000 or less, Free File is a partnership between the IRS and Free File Alliance, LLC to offer taxpayers their choice of software to easily prepare and eFile their 2012 1040 tax return online. The official Free File Web site is FreeFile.IRS.gov.
If you'd like help from a tax preparer, H&R Block also offers free online tax preparation services for simple tax returns, and affordably-priced services for more complex returns. To get started, click: e-File your federal taxes for free today with H&R Block At Home
For all taxpayers, even those whose AGI exceeds $57,000, the IRS offers Free File Fillable Forms that are filled out directly (not with the help of an interactive software program). The forms to prepare and e-file your 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ return are available online. Click: IRS Free Fillable tax forms.
Free File Fillable Forms allow anyone to fill out and file their tax forms electronically, just as they would on paper. This option does not include an “interview” process like Free File, but it does allow you to enter your tax data, perform basic math calculations, sign electronically, print your return for recordkeeping and e-file your tax return. Free File Fillable Forms are right for people who are comfortable with the tax law, know what forms they need don’t need the help and error-checking features of software to complete their tax returns.
Earned Income Tax Credit - EITC
Taxpayers with low to moderate income (up to $50,270 in 2012) may qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit "EITC". Many states have similar tax credits. To see if you qualify, go to the EITC Home Page for all the rules and the EITC Assistant, which can also estimate your credit.
Tax Preparation Software
If your income is higher and your return more complicated, including small business (corporate, S-corporation, partnership, and LLC) and even estate tax returns, you can install H&R Block tax preparation software on your computer and run as many returns as you like, as information (e.g., 1099's) becomes available. You can also run trial returns to evaluate various tax-planning approaches. H&R Block offers a variety of software products. Click to see them all and know that Free expert advice is included with H&R Block tax prep software.
For California Residents:
The Franchise Tax Board continues to offer a free service for California filers. It is called ReadyReturn and it means that 2 million California taxpayers already have their state tax return prepared for them. If you are one of them, all you have to do is review and submit your return - it only takes 15 to 30 minutes! Visit California's ReadyReturn Web site at FTB.ca.gov/ReadyReturn.
For Canadian Taxpayers:
Tax Information and Assistance:
When tax questions arise, Legal.com recommends that you refer to an appropriate reference, such as a reliable tax manual or an electronic version included with your tax software. Guidance can also be found at the IRS Web site or your state's official tax site. Additionally, you can research tax laws online for free using Legal.com's legal research tool.
Help with Tax Laws and Audits :
For additional help or assistance with complicated issues, you should consult a tax attorney, CPA or Enrolled Agent. You can find a tax attorney using Legal.com's Find-a-Lawyer (a new window will open), for advice, representation in an audit or negotiation of an offer-in-compromise. Additionally, H&R Block offers consultations with tax professionals. For one near you, enter your location and click "Go".
Special Rules for Those Whose Work Involves Travel:
Pilots, truckers and other transportation workers who receive per diem while traveling are required to report this income. Per diem is subject to special rules to substantiate meal and incidental expenses incurred while traveling away from home. See Internal Revenue Bulletin 2011-42 for more. Technical services employees in real estate and construction, see Coordinated Issue Construction/Real Estate Industry Per Diem Allowances.
You can download all the forms you need from your state's official tax site, for free! For Federal forms and information, see the IRS Web site. For state and Canadian Province tax forms, search [State/Province] tax forms using Legal.com's Legal Research tool, e.g., Alabama tax forms; Quebec tax forms. When you see the list of results, look for the official web site of the state or province, to download current forms directly from the official source.