Tag Archives: taxes

IRS Free File & Banking Tip

There are a number of things I’d like to post about, including one very long saga that has still not reached a conclusion. So today I am making just a brief post to share some useful information that I discovered.

Since the very first year I worked, I have filed my taxes using TurboTax. I am really not good with financial issues and the fact that it will walk me through every possible question with lots of explanations alleviates my anxiety. The past two years I did not have to file taxes, but in 2020 I made an attempt at returning to work in two separate part-time jobs, which only lasted a few months.

I couldn’t afford the fees for TurboTax. My mother’s helpful suggestion was that she could ask her accountant if he could do it any cheaper. (This is an obvious no, as her taxes are not particularly complicated and he charges her more than double what I’d been paying.) I printed all the forms, and today I worked up the courage to try doing more than filling in my name and social security number.

When I went to the IRS website for the instruction booklet, I discovered this information on IRS Free File. The IRS has partnered with a number of popular tax preparation sites to offer free tax filing for people with low income. It estimated that 70% of the population may qualify. The link I provided has a tool to determine which offers are available to you.

I was able to use my existing TurboTax account from years past, but pay absolutely no fee to file both my federal and state taxes. I highly recommend checking the tool to see if you qualify, as this was a million times easier than the pen and paper method I was about to embark on.

BONUS FINANCIAL TIP: I went to my bank to try to sort out some inexplicable service charges. A few months ago I had received a $2 charge that turned out to be because, after one year, my savings account started having a minimum balance. No one told me this when I opened it. I scrounged up the money to get over the minimum balance, and a couple of times had to grin and bear it when I needed money out of savings. Except I was getting charged the fee again even when I was over the minimum.

As it turns out, the account has to stay over the minimum balance for the entire month. By the time I knew it was under and added money to reach the minimum, it was then less than a month before the next time the fee was applied. I did get a refund for any time they deducted the fee when I was over the minimum balance, and the teller made a very helpful suggestion.

Since there is no chance I would ever have enough money in savings to earn more than a few cents in interest, we moved my savings to a second checking account, titled “savings”, with no checks or debit card. I can still move money between it and my normal checking account online. The only difference is that there are no fees.