You look forward to tax season because you get some money back. Or, you hate tax season because you're faced with what you have to pay in. As a single, parent I get a little of both because I'm self-employed. I usually get enough credits to qualify for a federal refund but I have to take cash out-of-pocket to the state.

Years ago I was a big fan of places like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt. I was in a big hurry to get my taxes back and shrugged off the couple of hundred dollars in fees they charged. Then I learned about FreeFile, a group of companies that file your taxes for "free". Of course, they try to sneak in as many fees as they can, but you still pay less than you would if you went to an office.

Today, H&R Block doesn't even offer refund anticipation loans. And, they use the same software that you have access to from your own home, Turbo Tax. So, why would you pay for someone else to do your data entry...because make no mistake, that's all you're paying for. You'll get your tax refund back on the same IRS schedule as the guy who filed in his pajamas at home. The difference is that you're going to shell out a lot more cash than he is.

If you think you can't do your own taxes, rest assured that most of the tax software out there walks you through the entire process. That means that my 10 year old son probably could have done my taxes this year. Do yourself a favor; gather your documents and do your own taxes at home. Maybe I'm just super frugal, but I can't see paying someone for the exact same results as I ca get at home. And I sure can't see sitting through the waiting room of a hot smelly tax office with a bunch of other people wo don't want to be there and who are probably going to get hostile the moment they figure out that there is no refund anticipation loan and they just wasted a couple of hundre dollars on data entry.


  1. Thanks for the advice. I'm a single mother and nursing student and this year will be my first to file taxes. My ex used to always handle it, as embarassing as it is to admit. Of course, I'm realizing that there are alot of things I need to learn being newly-independant. I was going to head to H&R Block tomorrow but I'll try out that software first.

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