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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money

E-File Your Taxes for Free!


I don't know about you, but doing taxes has never been on my top 10 things I like to do! However, I'm all for filing my tax return in an efficient manner that doesn't cost me money. And, many of us now have good choices for filing our returns for free.

E-File Your Form 1040 Series Returns

First, if you file a Form 1040 series, e-filing your tax return (submitting your tax returns electronically) has truly become easy and safe. Regardless of income, everyone can use the free, online Fillable Forms, which are an electronic version of the IRS paper forms.

And, if your income was $57,000 or less in 2011, you can use Free File Tax Software for free tax preparation and e-filing. Instead of being presented with forms to complete, the name brand software will ask you questions and guide you through the process of completing your tax return.

My son and I did his tax return last weekend and completed it in about 30 minutes by using Free File Tax Software. It was painless – quick, easy, and the explanations were clear.

Another advantage of e-file is that you can expect to get your refund in half the time; I know my son appreciates that! For more information about e-file, go to http://www.irs.gov/efile/

Keep in mind that you may also be able to file your Illinois tax return for free, as well as your federal return. Check out e-filing IL taxes.

Do you need help filing your return?

If you are either low-to-moderate income or elderly, there may be free help nearby. Over 12,000 free tax preparation sites will be open nationwide this year as the Internal Revenue Service continues to expand its partnerships with nonprofit and community organizations tax preparation services for low- to moderate-income and elderly taxpayers.

The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program offers free tax help generally to people who earn $50,000 and less. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program offers free tax help to taxpayers who are 60 and older.

To locate the nearest VITA site, taxpayers should call 800-906-9887.

To locate the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, call 888-227-7669 or visit AARP's website.

Make a Plan for Your Tax Refund

Once you have your tax returns filed, make a plan to use your tax refund wisely. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Pay past due expenses.
  • Pay down credit card debt.
  • Set aside some of your refund as an emergency fund.
  • Save for your child's education.
  • Save for a major appliance or other large purchase.
  • Boost your retirement funds.
  • Pay down a mortgage or save for a down payment on a home.

Consider using IRS Form 8888, Direct Deposit of Refund to More Than One Account, to split your refund among two or three different accounts. This way you can save or invest your refund immediately, and keep some to help with daily living expenses.



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