Where Can I Practice Doing My Taxes Online for Free Before I Pay to File Them?

Written by James Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Every year, the approach of tax time strikes fear into the hearts of millions of average Americans. Even if you've diligently kept your pay stubs, interest statements and other income records, the thought of filing your taxes still might make you nervous. After all, there's no guarantee that you'll receive the refund that you were anticipating. In fact, you could even end up owing additional monies to the IRS. What's more, you'll need to ensure that you file your taxes properly and on time. Every year, the IRS audits many thousands of Americans whose tax returns appear to be suspicious or incomplete. This can be inconvenient, stressful and potentially expensive.

In order to ensure that you file your taxes properly, you may wish to practice filling out your return before you're actually ready to send it along to the IRS. In the old days, this was exceedingly difficult. In most cases, you'd have to purchase a tax-help book that contained multiple tax-preparation practice worksheets or take a special class that might cost a significant amount of money.

These days, it's far easier to practice your tax-filing skills. In fact, you have nearly unlimited tax-practice resources at your disposal in a variety of online locations. For starters, the IRS offers free instructional resources as well as free sample tax forms. If you have access to a printer, take a moment to navigate to IRS.gov and print out both of these resources. To ensure that you download and print the proper practice forms, be sure to read the online instructions before taking any action. Otherwise, you'll waste time and printer paper.

As an added bonus, the IRS may offer you the option to file your taxes for free. Once you've practiced filling out your returns and feel confident about your ability to complete your tax return, check the IRS's "free e-file" feature to determine whether you qualify for a free return. To utilize this service, your gross annual income must be less than $60,000. Many reputable tax-preparation services partner with the IRS to offer the free e-file program.

You can also find sample tax forms at popular tax-filing websites like TurboTax, H&R Block and TaxACT. These sites typically contain some of the most popular tax forms, including Schedule 1040-A and Schedule B. If you have any questions about these tax forms or need some troubleshooting advice, most online tax-filing services offer free customer service hotlines and live-chat features.

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