The IRS Free File Program uses software from TurboTax, H&R Block At Home, TaxACT and many other vendors, and is available via the IRS website for the many filers whose 2010 adjusted gross income is $57,000 or less. Iif you make more money than that, the major software brands offer free editions that anyone can use. Some of the IRS Free File vendors allow you to e-file your state return for free as well. Still, not everyone is comfortable preparing their taxes online. If you prefer to work on your taxes on your home computer while offline, reviewers say your best option for fairly simple returns is TaxACT 2011 Ultimate Online (*Est. $18). TurboTax Deluxe 2011 (*Est. $50) or TurboTax Premier 2011 (*Est. $75) are better choices for more complicated returns, however. If you opt for their boxed/downloaded versions, an advantage is that you'll have a hard copy of the software that you can install on each computer in your home, and you'll be able to work on your taxes offline.
Most reviews of the program are a little dated, though mostly relevant. The only source we found that goes into great depth about the IRS Free File Program is About.com's guide to taxes, a seasoned tax professional who compares this service to packaged software from Intuit and TaxACT. Another expert at About.com and reviewers at Forbes.com and ConsumerReports.org don't pick a favorite Free File vendor, but they do offer useful information about the Free File Program as well as some alternatives.
Shelley Elmblad, About.com's guide to financial software, explains the basics about the IRS Free File program for this year. Elmblad doesn't pick the best free file vendor, however. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: What is Free File, and How Do I Get Free Tax Software?, Shelley Elmblad, Jan. 24, 2011
Forbes.com blogger William P. Barrett notes the pros and cons of the IRS Free File program. Besides the income limit, some vendors impose age limits, and, he says, "if you need a particularly obscure form, you may be out of luck."
Review: Save Dough Doing Your Own Tax Return, William P. Barrett, Feb. 3, 2011
Here is another blogger who finds pros and cons for the IRS Free File program. Tobie Stanger notes that some of the vendors offer free state e-filing.
Review: Free Tax-prep and Filing Options Abound This Year, Tobie Stanger, Jan. 19, 2011
About.com's guide to taxes, William Perez, reviews and ranks free services available through the IRS Free File program, based on an assessment of their cost, ease of use, speed and accuracy. He also offers notes on the ones to avoid. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Top 10 Free Tax Preparation Programs, William Perez