PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Nobody likes to do taxes.

In fact, about 60 percent of Americans pay someone to prepare their tax returns, according to the IRS.

However, if you’re looking for ways to save, Consumer Reports said an online program will let you prepare and file for free.

It even provides step-by-step guidance along the way.

Like most people, Christine Stangarone used to hire a tax preparer, but this year she decided to go it alone.

“I was trying to minimize costs and figure out how I could do it on my own,” Stangarone said.

Her first stop was on the government website, FreeFile.IRS.gov.

Anyone can use it to prepare and file federal tax forms at no cost. Consumer Reports explains, for taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is $58,000 or less, it offers a lot more free help.

“The IRS has partnered with private companies that offer tax software to walk you through your federal returns,” Tobie Stanger said.

FreeFile lists software programs from all the big companies, including H&R Block and TurboTax.

Stanger worked with Stangarone to see how easy they are to use.

Not surprisingly, it pays to enter data carefully. Stangarone spotted a mistake she made that could have cost her plenty.

“Even a small mistake can make a difference in what you get back, so you have to be careful. But all the programs will let you stop, check things, and have things perfect before you file,” Stanger said.

All the programs Consumer Reports tried through the FreeFile website were fairly simple.

“If you don’t need to itemize, and about 70 percent of Americans don’t, this is a fairly straightforward process,” Stanger said.

Another added bonus is that the process is fast.

Stangarone was finished preparing her returns and filing them for free in about an hour.

Consumer Reports said your refund could be processed in just 10 days, compared with four to six weeks for mailed returns.


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