Your Complete Guide to Free Tax Tools

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Even with a two-day extension (three if you're counting the day gained due to 2012 being a leap year), Tax Day tends to stress out a lot of Americans.

Luckily, there are several online tax tools and software programs that let you file your tax returns for free, which can help ease the mental and financial burden of tax time. Of course, each has its own eligibility criteria and none offers a free-file option to taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of more than $57,000. Other criteria may include age, state, eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit and military status.

Here's a breakdown of the free filing tools you can use from the convenience of your home computer.

OnLine Taxes at
You can only file your federal tax returns for free on if your adjusted gross income is between $12,050 and $57,000, though the service is available to all ages in all states. Those who don't meet the federal requirements can file for $7.95, and everyone who chooses to add a state tax return to their federal return will have to pay $7.95.

eSmartTax by Liberty Tax Service
Taxpayers in all states are eligible to use eSmartTax to file their federal tax return if their adjusted gross income is $57,000 or less and they are 52 years old or younger. Free state tax returns are also offered in Georgia, Iowa, Michigan and Virginia to those who meet the same requirements. Residents of other states can file their state returns for $9.95.

Taxpayers in all states can file their federal return through YES I-CAN! E-File for free if their adjusted gross income is $29,000 or less or if they qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Otherwise, filing the federal tax return costs $4.99. The site can also help prepare tax returns in California, Michigan, Montana, Pennsylvania and New York, and can file returns in each of these states except New York.

1040 Free File Edition
You can get a free federal tax return through 1040 Free File Edition if you are under 52 years old (as of Dec. 31, 2011) and your adjustable gross income is $52,000 or less. The service is offered to all U.S. citizens and resident aliens with foreign addresses. State returns are offered for $29.95.

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