It's tax season. Bring on the cheesy commercials, billboards, and extended IRS wait times.
The good news is you don't have to spend a fortune to file your taxes online. In fact, you may be able to file your federal and state returns for free if you meet certain criteria. Even if you don't, you can use other affordable programs to get your returns in before the April 18 filing deadline.
Here are some free tax-filing options to get you started.
In December 2016, Credit Karma added free online tax preparation and filing to its arsenal. Anyone can file a federal return for free, regardless of income. Even better, the program includes free state filing for all users.
Credit Karma also has a team of agents standing by to assist you with technical issues. Unfortunately, they don't offer tax preparation help.
IRS Free File Software
If your adjusted gross income (AGI) was $64,000 or less in 2016, you can file your federal return for free through IRS Free File software providers. However, you may incur a fee when filing your state return, and age restrictions also apply. Here's a list of participating providers.
FreeTaxUSA IRS Free File Edition: Free state and federal filing is available if you are 17 to 60 years old and your AGI was $51,000 or less in 2016. Otherwise, you will incur a fee of up to $12.95 to file your return(s).
eSmart Free File Edition: Free federal filing is available for preparers between the ages of 18 and 54 with an AGI of $64,000 or less. Otherwise, the fee is $19.95 for federal returns, and another $19.95 for state returns (where the service is available).
Online Taxes at OLT.com: Taxpayers with an AGI between $13,000 and $64,000 qualify for free state and federal filing. Free filing is open to taxpayers of all ages. If you don't qualify for free filing, the fee is $7.95 to file your federal and state return.
ezTaxReturn.com: You qualify for free federal filing if your AGI is $64,000 or less, but a $19.95 fee applies for state returns. While free filing is available to individuals of all ages, you must reside in one of the accepted states. This site does not offer other federal filing options.
1040.com Free File Edition: Individuals under the age of 53 with earnings of $58,000 or less qualify for free federal filing. Active duty service members with earnings of $64,000 or less and those who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit also qualify. However, a fee of $14.95 is assessed for state returns.
1040Now.net: Those who are 60 or younger with an AGI of $64,000 or less can use this program to file their federal return for free. However, state limitations apply. Other states also offer free federal returns without the age restriction. The federal filing fee ranges from $14.95 to $19.95 if you don't meet the income criteria, and a flat fee of $17.95 applies for state returns.
TaxAct Free File: If you are under 57 years of age and earn $52,000 or less, you can use this software to file a free state and federal return. You are also eligible for free filing if you are active military with an AGI of $64,000 or less or qualify for the EITC.
FileYourTaxes.com: Individuals between the ages of 15 and 65 with an AGI of $9,000 to $64,000 qualify for free federal filing. Residents of select states also qualify for free filing, and others are subject to a $26.50 fee. If you are active duty military with an AGI under $64,000, you also qualify for free federal filing. Otherwise, a federal filing fee of $29.75 applies.
TurboTax Freedom Edition: Free federal and state filing is available to individuals with an AGI of $33,000 or less, active duty service members with an AGI of $64,000 or less, and those who qualify for the EITC. If you don't qualify, the federal return filing fee ranges from $34.99 to $89.99.
TaxSlayer: Taxpayers who are 52 years or younger with an AGI of $63,000 or less, and active duty service members with an AGI less than $64,000, qualify for free federal filing. However, a state filing fee of $19.99 applies, unless you live in Georgia.
Free1040TaxReturn.com: Those who have an AGI of $64,000 or less, are 70 years or younger, and live in a qualifying state are eligible for free federal filing. Free state filing is also available in select states. Otherwise, the fees are $24.95 and $39.90, respectively.
H&R Block's Free File: This program is available to individuals aged 17 to 50 with an AGI of $64,000 or less, active duty service members, and those who qualify for the EITC. If you don't qualify, a fee of $29.99 applies for federal returns, but state filing is included free of charge with this option.
IRS Free Fillable Forms
As a last resort (or if you're some sort of tax whiz), you can use fillable forms to file your taxes online. You'll need an online account to get started. Once you're logged in, select and populate the applicable forms, and submit them to the IRS.
This option is available to anyone, but it may not be a good idea if you don't know how to prepare your taxes from scratch.
SEE ALSO: 8 Ways to Wisely Spend Your Tax Refund
Also know that state tax prep is not available. Furthermore, all accounts get deleted after October 20. So, you'll need to print or save an electronic copy of your return.
Readers, have you used any of this free tax preparation software in the past? What did you think of it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.