I told Jeff about the TaxAct.com, the online Tax filing service I used this year. He mentions that you can fill out the forms for free, but he doesn’t mention any complaints about the service. Although I liked the service, I did have a couple of complaints. But first the good stuff.
The free service gives you PDFs of your forms. This means that instead of pulling out a manual typewriter or hand-writing the answers in, I filled out the answers to pertinant questions and they provided the filled-in forms. I did some 1099 work this year and they managed to ask about that and provide forms for self-employment taxes. Alexis and I donate quite a bit to the charities that take in-kind dontations and we managed to get almost all the itemizations done as well. So, at least for my purposes, it was thorough enough. Finally, because I goofed on my timesheet last week, we paid the $20 or so for electronic filing (and direct-deposit of the refund) so we could get it this week.
All that said, it was a major pain filling out parts of the questionnaire. They used the “Wizard” style interface where each question has its separate form. This is great if you only have to go through the system once, but we found that we had one too many in-kind donations for electronic filing so I had to go back and redo one of the forms. Instead of presenting me with a list of the items and allowing me to edit them individually, I had to go through the whole wizard thing again to get to the one I needed to change (thankfully it was pre-filled with my previous responses). Their user interface could use some work.
Despite any complaints, I was glad that such things exist. Offering the free service (with such a cheap route to electronic filing) for users of non-conventional systems (like Linux) is wonderful. You can find others from the IRS.gov “Free File” site.