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How to file your tax return online

While it’s typical to put off filing your taxes for as long as humanly possible, filing them on time is still something you should do if you don’t want to risk paying late penalties or exuberant interest costs on top of what you might owe. You can even potentially lose your refund after three years if you refuse to file in a timely fashion.

However, you don’t have to opt for a personal accountant if you have a straightforward return. Filing online is quick, accurate, and yields a return directly to your bank account within 21 days, as opposed to the typical six weeks associated with paper filing. Plus, if it’s down to the wire, e-filing your taxes is far more convenient.

Below are our favorite methods for e-filing your taxes, so you can nab your return without ever leaving the comforts of your bed. For a look at more dedicated accounting software, check out our favorites.

Important 2020 update: The deadline to both file and pay federal income taxes has been extended to July 15, 2020. The IRS encourages low-income taxpayers and others who don’t generally file tax returns to wait so that it is easier to set up an “Economic Impact Payment” for them. The IRS Free File site (listed below) is a good place to go to receive continuing updates on this situation. 

The Best

Credit Karma Tax

Last year, Credit Karma announced that it had purchased the AFJC Corporation, expanding Credit Karma’s outreach from credit score analysis to tax filing. The first version of Credit Karma Tax features a clean, navigable interface with a horizontal toolbar at the top of the screen. This divides the process into three distinct sections — Basic Info, Federal Taxes, and State Taxes. Like the other services on this list, Credit Karma Tax also handles an an array of standard forms and schedules (i.e.,W-2, 1040, 1099-MISC).

One of the main drawbacks to the service is that does not allow you to upload your tax data from a rival service. Also, while the tried-and-true tax services have years of experience fielding digital “help desk” questions, this is Credit Karma’s first time around the block. It is easy to become lost or confused when trudging through the semantic tempest that is the U.S. tax system, and many of the other tax services do a better job of conveniently hyperlinking or defining the more complex jargon, thus minimizing error potential and you’re need to scour the web for additional info.

Yes, there are a few kinks in the first version of Credit Karma Tax, however, unlike many of the other services on this list, Credit Karma Tax includes free state filing. For years Credit Karma has made money using its credit service to suggest credit cards and loans to users for a commission. This new tax apparatus gives Credit Karma more insight into an individual’s overall income to more aptly match a person with a lender, and, by extension, leads to more commissions.

Overall, the fact that Credit Karma is completely free — the service doesn’t even take a cut of your return — and fairly easy to use makes it the most convenient resource for people looking to file their tax returns online.

Web

The Rest

IRS Free File

The IRS’s Free File option is incredibly direct and fast, and it keeps on slowly improving over the years to make it easier for the average taxpayer to use. Currently, the site offers two sections of free forms, one for those with an income of $69,000 and below, the other for those above that threshold. The below $69,000 option is particularly good because the IRS can help you choose the best filing options and link you with the right service. Free File is available through pretty much all major tax filing services (including those on this list), so you can use your preferred service while still filing for free. For the above $69,000 crowd, the IRS has you stay on a more limited Free File portal that gets you access to all forms you need along with some tips on what to do.

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TurboTax

TurboTax stands its ground as the premiere site for filing your taxes online. It’s a great option for both personal and small businesses, and you can even file your federal taxes for free using its IRS e-file system (state will cost you). The free edition contains many major forms, from the W-2 to the 1040EZ, with ample guidance and direction if you feel completely overwhelmed. The more advanced packages come bundled with step-by-step instructions and handle more intricate deductions such as home mortgages and various business expenditures, but can cost you more than $100 depending on what you plan to do with them. Regardless of which package you opt for, though, TurboTax features one of the sleekest interfaces around and robust support for importing W-2 and 1099 forms. Tax experts also provide expert advice when need be, as does the active user community

Web  iOS  Android

H&R Block

H&R Block is another solid alternative for e-filing your taxes online, but it doesn’t offer as in-depth help as some of it online competitors. Like TurboTax, the free edition also offers a vast array of forms and schedules. The software becomes more comprehensive and effective the higher up you go in price, bringing in step-by-step instructions and expanding the schedule lineup, but the site can prove cumbersome at times due to poor navigation tools. Each tier still supports data import and deduction guidance, though, along with an extensive refund program that allows you to put a portion or all of your refund on an Emerald Card. With this option, your refund will be available within 21 days.

Web Mobile App

TaxACT

TaxACT’s best selling point is its rock-bottom pricing, which sadly, comes at the expense of advanced features and cleanliness. It’s a bit more barebones than some of the more popular competitors, but both the free and paid editions offer almost the same set of features, including your standard forms and schedules (i.e. 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ). Opting for the premium versions will grant you access to more features — such as tax data from prior years, donation assistance, and robust phone support — but the free federal edition is still worthwhile if you’re exempt from paying state taxes. The service’s lackluster interface and navigation leave much to be desired, too, yet it still touts an extensive library of video and text assistance that spans an array of common tax issues regarding penalties and law. TaxACT also allows you to file your tax return out of sequence, which is rather nice if you want to skip a particular section and come back to it later.

Web  Mobile Apps 

TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer is another affordable option, but it’s pretty limited in its capabilities and scope. The service isn’t very conversational, particularly given the user interface is sorely outdated and lacks any sort of comprehensive context, but it remains one of the more inexpensive packages and boasts support for an excellent range of IRS forms (i.e. W-2, 1040, Schedule EIC). The service also provides email and phone support regardless of which package you choose, though, you won’t be able to pull last year’s data or talk with a tax professional unless you opt for one of the higher-tiered offerings. The built-in guidance will be enough for users filing a simple return, even if the help menu does often provide non-pertinent information and link out to a host of other sites, providing new or returning users a basic means for filing their taxes without consulting elsewhere. Still, the service is in dire need of a more inclusive walkthrough for some of the more complex operations — one more appropriate for businesses and small entrepreneurs.

Web  Mobile Apps 

eSmart Tax

eSmart Tax is Liberty Tax’s online tax software, and it’s very scalable while also making filing easy. The service can import tax data from large employers or rival tax software like TurboTax, so you can easily get all the info you need electronically. There’s a good combination of chat, email, community, and office support if you run into any complications. Three primary tiers, starting at $45, offer different services, adding extra tools for investments and home offices as you scale up. There’s also a “smart bundle” that professionals can buy that offers audit assistance, five-year storage of documents, and other extras.

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Sennheiser GSP 670 headset review: premium price, subpar performance

The search for a new headset can really get frustrating. Sure, there are a million options on Amazon for under $50, but when you want something premium, where do you start? If you’re looking for the best possible audio quality, you start with the Sennheiser GSP 670 and hope you can find it on sale because these things don’t come cheap.The GSP 670 is a premium headset with sound quality and a price tag to match. Launching at $350, you’re paying for the Sennheiser name and quality. We’ve tested multiple Sennheiser headsets throughout the years and have almost always come away impressed. That’s the same story here.The first thing you may notice about this headset is just how big it is. It looks big before you pick it up and it feels big once you put it on. Coming in at just shy of 400g, it has the weight to make those extremely long gaming sessions taxing, but luckily Sennheiser included one of the best headbands I’ve seen in a headset yet. It’s big and comfortable without looking too ridiculous.The earcups are equally nice with large plus fabric cups that will keep your ears away from the driver covers. If you prefer leatherette cups you’ll want to find another option, but I did find these to be one of the most comfortable headsets to just sit and listen to music on. The clamping force is just right (although uneven; more on that later) and the earcups provide a wonderful seal to keep the noise of the world away from your ears.One the outside of the headset, there’s a small tactile wheel to adjust chat volume if you’re using a gaming console, a large volume knob, and a multifunction button that will provide audio prompts for battery level and put you into pairing mode when you hold it down. The only thing we’re missing here is a physical switch to move between Bluetooth and 2.4ghz connection standards, and we’ll tell you why that matters in a bit.The microphone is on the left side of the headset and provides a nice tactile click when you flip it all the way up. This is how you mute your microphone and comes in handy when you need to have a quick conversation and get back to whatever you were doing before.I wish I could report that the microphone provided better audio quality but I was pretty disappointed. It’s been a struggle to find a wireless headset that really gives great performance in this area (I’m guessing there’s a bandwidth issue) and the Sennheisers fall disappointingly short. I think they sound much the same as every other headset released in the last decade, which isn’t saying a lot.Both Bluetooth and 2.4ghz connection standards are here. Plugging the USB dongle into my computer, the headset paired almost instantly and opened up a world of opportunity to tune through the Sennheiser app. There are options to tune your EQ, how the microphone sounds, and even provide a noise gate in case you have a noisy background. I didn’t find much difference in how the microphone sounded using these options so hopefully, they continue to be tuned in future updates.The sound that comes through these headphones is a completely different story. This has been one of the best audio experiences I’ve had in my time reviewing tech. I’d put it up there with the Sony WH-1000xm3 in terms of enjoyment. Where Sony offers amazing noise cancelation, the Sennheiser GSP 670 takes the crown in terms of audio quality.I found music pleasingly bass-y without feeling like I’m slogging through the mud just to listen. Mids are very clear while highs are crisp without being piercing.I just wish I enjoyed wearing these more. I can’t overstate how heavy these things are. At just under 400g, they’re one of the heavier headsets I’ve tested and it can be exhausting during long sessions. With 16 hours of battery life, those sessions can last all night, but you’ll need breaks.Additionally, I don’t like wearing these because of how the cups sit on my head. While the cups themselves are large enough that my ear doesn’t touch anything, the clamping is uneven and annoying. You can use the sliders in the headband to adjust your clamp, but I always end up with more pressure on the bottom of the cups than at the top.Frankly, these don’t look great and certainly don’t look like something I’d pay over $300 for. They’re big and bulky with muted colors and an … aggressive? design. I’m not entirely sure what to call this design language but there are definitely better-looking options on the market. This won’t matter to some, but for those who do care, it’s a bit of a killer and makes the cost harder to justify.ConclusionThere are always trade-offs when you’re using a wireless headset. Sennheiser smartly did not skimp on the audio quality and if you’re looking for a wireless headset that sounds great, this is definitely where you want to start. I put it at the top of the list in that respect.But, where it falls apart is pretty much everywhere else. Tradeoffs become pretty obvious when you use these for more than a few hours.Yep, they’re built solidly and the plastic design means they’ll hold up to some abuse. But, these look cheaper than competing options like the Astro A50s and Arctis Pro Wireless. Plus, as I’ve said a few times, they’re heavy.It’s awesome that they have both 2.4ghz and Bluetooth standards. But there’s no way to manually switch between them and the second that your computer plays audio via the USB dongle, the Bluetooth cuts out completely. If you’re using these to take a phone call or listen to music on your phone and you accidentally click on a YouTube link on your computer, say goodbye to your audio. This would be an easy fix with a manual switch and we hope to see that in a future revision.Best over-ear headphones (spring 2020)I can’t state enough how crappy the audio from the mic is. Maybe I’m spoiled by streamers who invest hundreds and hundreds of dollars into their audio equipment, but this sounds like every headset I’ve heard the last decade of gaming and that’s pretty disappointing.If your voice quality matters to you at all, I’d suggest getting a standalone mic. But you have to ask yourself if you’re grabbing something like a Blue Yeti, is there a justification for the GSP 670 when you can buy a wireless headset for far cheaper?I know it probably looks like I hate the Sennheiser GSP 670 but I don’t. In true dad fashion, I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. While they’re best in class in terms of audio quality, the things they miss on are a killer and make them harder to recommend over other competitors.After a bit of searching, I’ve found the Sennheiser GSP 670 around $300 and sometimes cheaper on sale. I think if you can find these cheaper than that, go for it. Your ears will thank you. At full price, they’re a tough sell.Buy the Sennheiser GSP 670 at Amazon

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