Our savings experts tell you if you need to pay for an accountant or if you can use tax software for the best result.
Tax season is upon us, but it doesn't have to be a drag. Sure, filing isn't fun, but with the right method, you just may be able to save some money -- and who wouldn't welcome that?
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If you have a relatively simple return, there are a variety of inexpensive do-it-yourself options, some of which are free. That's right, free. The IRS.gov website allows you to file without charge, if you qualify, and even refers you to an accredited free-filing agency to help you through the process.
Walmart also offers a convenient free-file option. You can file your 1040EZ at over 3,000 locations nationwide at no cost. The best part (well, for frequent Walmart shoppers) is that the store will even load your refund onto a convenient prepaid card.
If your financial status has changed in the last year, or if you think your situation is a little more complicated, hiring a tax professional may be your most economical and hassle-free option. Those who were paid for freelance work without taxes held or experienced a major life event -- like getting married, welcoming a new baby, or receiving settlement or inheritance -- should seek professional assistance.
If you're cringing at the thought of shelling out cash for a pro, don't. An accountant may cost you a few hundred dollars up front, but with the right deductions, you could end up saving more than that on your return as a whole.
As April 15 approaches, assess your situation and do a little digging. You'll find that the right filing method will ultimately pay off.