1. Computing

Free State Income Tax Preparation Software

3 Ways to File a Free State Income Tax Return

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41 states require residents to file a state income tax return, and if a state doesn't collect income tax, it may tax capital gains, dividends or other assets.

If you use tax software to prepare your federal return, you can use the software to file your state return as well, and all the relevant data from the federal return automatically transfers over to the state return. However, adding a state return is rarely free, sometimes costing up to nearly $40 even if you've used free tax software to file your federal return.

To save money, you can often file directly through a state website separately from the federal return. The best alternatives are available through the IRS Free File program or through state tax revenue collection agencies, listed below.

U.S. Military members, check Free Tax Software for Military Members for federal and state return packages available to you at no cost.

1. Go Straight to the State

United States income tax.
Getty Images / Joseph Clark
While not all states offer a way to file your taxes online at no cost, most do. Links to tax preparation websites for all 50 states plus Washington, DC are listed below. In each of these articles, you will find a description of what free online income tax filing options are available for each state.

2. IRS Free File

IRS.gov FreeFile program provide free tax software for filing income tax returns.
IRS.gov
Not everyone qualifies for IRS Free File, and while the federal return is free under this program, state returns may not be, but are offered at a significantly reduced price. You can visit the Free File Get Started page for a list of states that sponsor a free return through this program. You must access the software directly through the Free File portal to ensure that you get the free state benefit.

Here are some examples of Free File offerings, with the cost if a state isn't free:

TaxSlayer.com
Household income under $57,000 and under 26 years old
or
Qualify for Earned Income Credit
or
Currently Active Duty Military
$7.95 for Non-free state

TurboTax Freedom Edition
Adjusted Gross Income: $31,000 or less
or
Active military with an Adjusted Gross Income of $57,000
or less
or
Eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit
Non-free State 14.95

H&R Block Free File
Adjusted Gross Income: $57,000 or less
and
Age: 52 or younger
Non-free state 14.95

3. Paper Tax Return

IRS Schedule A for recording miscellaneous tax deductions.
Influx Productions / Getty Images
Another way to file your state income tax return for free (or at least for the cost of a postage stamp or two) is by going the old fashioned route of filling out a paper return. By doing so, you will have to wait longer for a refund if you have one coming, and you lose the additional benefits of eFiling. Many states offer a fill-in form, where you enter the information and numbers into a tax return online, then print it and file it. And advantage of using this method compared to printing out the return and filling it out with a pen is that the fill-in forms do most of the math for you.

The links to the states listed above include state returns that you can print out and mail.

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