COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Millions of taxpayers file their taxes for free each year.

Unfortunately, two of the biggest tax preparation services, TurboTax and H&R Block, are no longer participating in the IRS’s official Free File program, which means you could be hit with a credit card fee if you are not careful.

Jessica Carlson has filed her taxes through TurboTax for years, after she heard it was free if you earn less than a certain amount.

Only problem: the last time she did it, she got billed $90, paying out almost a third of her tax refund for tax prep fees.

“My refund total was $335,” she told us, “and they took $90 of it.”

It turns out when she put in her info at TurboTax, she ended up in its more expensive version, even though she met the income threshold for free filing.

“It automatically put me in Deluxe,” she said.

More people may be hit with fees this year

This year, it appears that more and more people are going to get their paperwork together, power up their laptop, log in, and then discover that their free tax filing isn’t really free anymore, according to the IRS.

IRS spokesman Luis Garcia says many companies advertise free filing. But he said if you go directly to their websites, all bets are off.

“If you want guaranteed free software, go to first,” he said.

Garcia told us that if you don’t use the Free File portal on the website –and go directly to the preparer you have used before– you could be in for an expensive surprise.

“If you do any other method,” he said, “you probably will fall into a trap where you do your taxes, and at the very end a bill pops up.”

And at that point, he said, most people do not want to start all over again.

Gig work may disqualify you in some cases

Both TurboTax and H&R Block quietly left the Free File Alliance during the pandemic, the IRS says.

You may still be able to file free through them for basic returns, but anything more complicated may trigger fees.

For instance, if you receive a 1099 form for gig work (such as driving for Uber or Doordash) TurboTax may automatically move you up to a paid tier.

Garcia says if your 2022 income was less than $73,000, you should start at the IRS website, and let them direct you. TaxAct, Tax Slayer, and other preparers remain in the IRS program.

And a note that the IRS website ends in .gov not .com. Watch for lookalike sites that may pop up in Google searches.

That way you won’t be surprised like Carlson was, with a bill for filing that you thought should be free.

And that way you don’t waste your money.

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