(BPT) - It's tax time and Americans are thinking about how they're going to spend their tax refunds. According to the Internal Revenue Service, the average tax refund was close to $3,000 last tax season, so who wouldn't want to get that money back in their pocket?
On the way to claiming your tax refund, here are some simple, smart choices that will help you keep more of your hard-earned money.
* Look for free online tax preparation options. If you are a taxpayer with an adjusted gross income of $57,000 or less, you can get free tax preparation through the IRS Free File Program at www.irs.gov or at TurboTax.com.
* Don't pay hundreds of dollars to a national storefront or franchise. Whether you're a teacher, construction worker, or member of the military, tax software can help you claim every deduction you are entitled to. TurboTax, the market leader in tax software is personalized and guides you step-by-step and even has CPAs available year round to provide expert answers to tax questions and personalized audit support if you need help.
'I switched from a tax pro when I learned that TurboTax has CPAs available to answer my questions,' says Jeff Noll of Chicago. 'It's a great service and takes away any nagging little questions that I was not totally clear about. I felt more confident that I had taken every deduction I could after speaking with an expert. TurboTax definitely helped me keep more money in my pocket.'
Military members serving in the Armed Forces should look for additional opportunities to save on tax preparation. In addition to the IRS Free File Program, some tax software companies offer special savings to military members. Be sure to research your options and look for providers offering tax products that are personalized for the specific needs of military filers.
Looking for more ways to save at tax time? Check out free and low-cost mobile apps to estimate taxes, prepare and file your tax return and check the status of your tax refund. SnapTax lets you take a picture of your W-2, answer a few simple questions and file directly from your mobile phone.
'Remember to e-file and use direct deposit for a faster tax refund,' advises Lisa Greene-Lewis, CPA with the American Tax and Financial Center at TurboTax. 'Combining electronic filing with direct deposit is the fastest way to get your tax refund back, in as little as 21 days, once the IRS receives and accepts your tax return.'
Electronically filing your tax return is also more accurate and most online tax preparation websites offer free federal e-filing.
Following these money-saving tips can help you keep more of your hard-earned money.