Last minute online tax-prep

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Patricia Lopez has some simple ways to file your taxes online and with mobile apps. (KTRK)

Dragging your feet on filing your taxes this year? It might be as easy as going online or using an app on your phone. Some tax-prep products are free and even the paid versions are typically cheaper than using an accountant. But will they get the job done right?

Consumer Reports took a look at the three most popular products to help you go it alone this tax season.

For tax year 2015, IRS reports show that 40% of taxpayers filed electronically, meaning they didn't use a paid tax preparer. Consumer Reports says using an online or mobile app can help you get the right results.

"We looked at the three most popular tax software products. That's TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxAct and we found they're all pretty good for simple situations especially," said Consumer Reports Money Editor Tobie Stanger.

And filing on your own has become even easier with the help of smartphones. All three allow you to automatically upload your W2 information by simply taking a photo.

But what if your tax situation isn't so simple?

"Say you're self-employed, you're probably going to have to upgrade. That could cost an extra 10 to 60 dollars," explained Stanger.
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Neighborhood Tax Centers is offering free help filing your taxes


Did you donate some old stuff to a place like Goodwill? You can probably get a deduction if you correctly itemize your return. Consumer Reports says all three have tools to help make your itemized deductions easy.

Even without having to upgrade to more expensive versions, any one of the products should get the job done for most simple returns. And of the three, Consumer Reports says Tax Act is the best value for people who itemize, own a home, or have simple investments.

One more thing, with these services, they are quick. Julia Brown got her refund automatically deposited into her bank account 12 days after she filed.

If you file on your own and run into problems, these tax-prep products allow you to contact them if you need help. They all offer tax advice from trained professionals. Turbo Tax's live tax advice help is available during most hours in the day.

And don't forget about those neighborhood tax centers. They're offering free tax services for certain filers. Neighborhood Centers, Inc. has a complete list of tax centers near you.

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financetaxesmoneyconsumer reportsstretch your dollarHouston
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