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How to do your taxes in 2023 (and get your refund fast)

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It's time to get organized for the 2023 tax season. According to the IRS, nearly all taxpayers will submit their taxes electronically in 2023. Are you one of them? Consider this your guide to everything that will help you file your federal and state tax returns as soon as today.

TurboTax packages, $0 to $199

H&R Block, from $0 to $85

When does the IRS start accepting returns in 2023?

The IRS began accepting tax returns for the 2023 tax filing season on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. You can now file your taxes, provided you have all the documents you need from your employer, bank and other institutions.

Remember, the sooner you file, the sooner you'll get your tax refund (if any). Refunds generally take less than three weeks if you file electronically.l

When are taxes due in 2023?

Tuesday, April 18, 2023, is the tax filing deadline for most Americans. 

On Jan. 11, 2023, the IRS announced that California storm victims now have until May 15, 2023, to file various federal individual and business tax returns and make tax payments. The IRS is offering the extension to people in areas designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Included areas cover much of the state, including Los Angeles and San Francisco. Think you might qualify for an extension? Click here to see the full list.

Need more time to file? According to the IRS, you should request an extension of time to file. To receive an automatic 6-month extension of time to file your return, you must file Form 4868. An extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. You may be subject to a late payment penalty on any tax not paid by the original due date of your return.

How to e-file your taxes in 2023

When it comes to e-filing, also known as online filing, there seem to be as many options to get the job done as there are forms to fill out. Which online filing option is right for you may depend on your income, your budget, the complexity of your return -- and perhaps your patience for filling out forms. 

We found the best online tax filing options, including IRS Free File and TurboTax, that should work for just about every and any kind of taxpayer. 

Looking for some motivation to get started? The earlier you file your taxes, the earlier you'll get your tax refund. 


Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Intuit's TurboTax is the giant in the tax-prep space, scoring 73 percent of sales in last year's tax high season, per the data analytics outfit Bloomberg Second Measure. Its services are basically divided into two areas: do-it-yourself online taxes and tax-pro-assisted online taxes. 

In the do-it-yourself bucket, you can e-file a federal return for $0 via its "Free Edition" service -- provided, that is, that the only form you need to file is a 1040. (For simple tax returns only, not all tax payers qualify.)

If you've got itemized deductions, schedules, or unemployment income (as reported on a 1099-G), then you'll probably need at least the TurboTax "Deluxe" tier, currently on sale for $39.  

Other on-sale TurboTax packages are "Premier" ($69) and "Self-Employed" ($89). As its name indicates, "Self-Employed" is recommended for those reporting self-employment income and expenses. All the do-it-yourself tiers, from "Deluxe" on up, carry additional fees for e-filing state tax returns (you can print out your state tax return from TurboTax and mail it in yourself to avoid the fee).

There are a few potential benefits to using a paid TurboTax package over IRS Free File -- the software can help you discover deductions you may have missed and will warn you about your level of audit risk. If you want an even more guided experience, TurboTax offers its "Basic," "Deluxe," "Premier" and "Self-Employed" tiers with either access to a tax pro who'll give you advice (the cheaper option, called TurboTax Live) or a tax pro who'll straight up do your taxes for you (the more expensive option, called TurboTax Live Full Service). 

All TurboTax packages, including "Deluxe," "Premier" and "Self-Employed," are billed as "start for free," which appears to mean no money is paid up front. ("Pay only when you file," the site says.) 

(Want to learn more? Check out our article on .)

TurboTax file-your-own-taxes packages, $0 to $89

TurboTax Deluxe 2022 tax software (includes State), $56 (reduced from $70)

H&R Block

H&R Block
Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

H&R Block offers four online filing options. They're called "Free Online," "Deluxe," "Premium" and "Self-Employed." Many of these options are on sale now.

"Free Online," which is billed at $0, is for those with super-simple returns, such as W-2 income only. Unlike TurboTax, H&R Block's no-charge tier works for people with unemployment income, too. The H&R Block site says the cost of a state return at this level is likewise $0.

For those with itemized deductions, a Health Savings Account (HSA) and/or real-estate deductions, H&R Block customers will want to look at the "Deluxe" level and above. Live tech support is included in the "Deluxe" ($35), "Premium" ($55) and "Self-Employed" ($85) packages. 

Like TurboTax, H&R Block bills all of its pay packages as being "start for free."    

H&R Block, from $0 to $85


TaxAct (screenshot)

After TurboTax and H&R Block, TaxAct is the next-biggest tax-prep software service. Among the big three, TaxAct is the only one currently affiliated with IRS Free File. In addition to providing that service to qualified taxpayers, TaxAct boasts a range of online-filing packages for any and all customers, regardless of income bracket.

Like TurboTax and H&R Block, TaxAct has a free tier (literally named "Free") that covers those with straight-forward returns – W-2 income, unemployment income and the like. A state return at this level usually costs $35 per state filed.

The other TaxAct packages are: "Deluxe" ($25); "Premier" ($35); and "Self Employed" ($65). At each of these levels, a state return, if requested, costs $45 per state filed. 

All four packages, including "Free," come complete with access to over-the-phone tax experts. And, yes, all of TaxAct's premium packages are billed as being "start for free."

TaxAct, from $0 to $65

IRS Free File  

How do you file online taxes for free in 2022? (screenshot)

In 2020, a U.S. watchdog agency found that fewer than three percent of the 104 million U.S. taxpayers who could've filed free online returns through IRS Free File took advantage of the program. Don't leave free services on the table this year. If you're looking to e-file your federal return, then you may want to make IRS Free File your first stop. As CBS News noted, the IRS-backed program is the "only sure way" to file a free federal return. 

This year, IRS Free File is open to all U.S. taxpayers whose 2022 adjusted gross incomes were $73,000 or less. And it doesn't matter if you're reporting unemployment income or capital gains; if you meet the program's income eligibility, then IRS Free File will find you an online service that'll do your tax math, answer so-called "simple" questions and submit your returns -- all for free.

One important note: For the 2023 tax season, eight companies are participating in IRS Free File, including some names you may recognize, such as TaxAct and TaxSlayer.

The easiest way to see what's available to you via IRS Free File is to go to the IRS website. Enter your age, state of residence, adjusted gross income and a couple of other details. The system will show you which of its tax-prep partners are a match for you. Some of the affiliated providers will even do state returns for free. The IRS Free File page is currently closed, but it says to check back later this month to prepare and file your federal taxes for free.

Free File Fillable Forms 

Free File Fillable Forms (screenshot)

Free File Fillable Forms is a sister service of IRS Free File; it's open to all taxpayers, including those who made more than $73,000 in 2022. Like IRS Free File, it's a completely free online-filing option. 

A seasonal program, Free File Fillable Forms is open every year from roughly mid-January to mid-October. It's an online repository of every and any form you'll need for a federal return. Once you're finished with your work, you may electronically sign the return, and submit it via the site. 

Free File Fillable Forms definitely has its limitations: It doesn't give advice; it doesn't do state returns; it doesn't allow you to do federal returns for anything but the current tax year; it doesn't let you do revisions once you've filed; and, as the IRS cautions, it doesn't do an "extensive" math check on your numbers.  

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