TULSA, Okla. - Catherine called to ask, "I'm trying to find a way to file my taxes that won't eat up a lot of my refund. Where's a good place to look?"
One place is the free file alliance.
It's a nonprofit group of industry leading tax software companies that partner with the IRS to help millions of Americans prepare and e-file their federal tax returns for free, as long as they meet certain qualifications, including income and age, which widely differ from company to company.
Generally, the adjusted gross income limit is $57,000, even if you file jointly, and some companies are limited to certain states.
You can find the Free File Alliance at irs.gov.
Out of the 145 million tax returns filed last year, the IRS estimates 70% of taxpayers are eligible to file through the Free File Alliance.
Steve Milan, a local CPA, says the alliance is a good idea, if it encourages folks to gather their tax information and file early.
"There's so much going on with tax laws, if vendors through their software can help individuals understand how to process and file a simple return, I really think that's a good plan."
But here are some drawbacks to consider before you get started with the free file alliance.
While the federal tax returns are free, all of the companies involved charge for a state return.
And in some cases, you won't know if you qualify for the free service until you've entered your information.
If you find out you don't qualify, you'll have to start all over with the company's regular software.