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Free tax software products offer great option for simple tax prep

Posted March 21, 2017 6:41 p.m. EDT

— Last tax season, 40 percent of those who filed electronically did not use a paid tax preparer. Many used one of the three most popular tax software products.

“I need something quick, easy, get it done,” Julia Brown said. “Because my tax situation is straightforward, I think it’s a good solution and a safe solution for me.”

TurboTax, H & R Block and TaxAct are all pretty good for simple situations.

Smartphones make it even easier. All three products allow users to automatically upload their W2 information by simply taking a photo.

“If your tax situation becomes more complicated, if you’re self-employed, you would likely have to upgrade. That could cost around $10 to $60.

You can likely get a deduction if you correctly itemize your return. Consumer Reports said all three have tools to help make itemized deductions easy.

Even without an upgrade to a more expensive version, Consumer Reports said any one of the at home products should get the job done for most simple returns.

Of the three, Consumer Reports found TaxAct has the best value for people who itemize, own a home or have simple investments.

The turn-around can be quick, and the federal refund can be automatically deposited into a bank account just 10 days after filing.