Best Free Tax Software Options To Use Right Now

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It is after the holidays and just as you are starting to feel normal again and get back into your routine, you realize it’s time to start thinking about filing your taxes. Although all taxpayers must file a return and pay what they owe, there’s no reason to navigate those complicated forms and confusing tax laws alone.

Read: 3 Ways Smart People Save Money When Filing Their Taxes

The Best Free Tax Software

Here’s a look at the five best free tax software options online that you can use right now to help you achieve the best outcome possible.

  1. IRS Free File
  2. TurboTax Free Edition
  3. H&R Block Free Online
  4. TaxAct Free
  5. Cash App Taxes

Keep reading to learn more about each of these options to find the right one for you.

1. IRS Free File

When choosing free tax software, why not go right to the source? The IRS Free File program provides taxpayers with state-of-the-art tax preparation software through an organization called the Free File Alliance. A number of commercial software companies are members of the alliance, including TaxAct and TaxSlayer.

Every year, millions of taxpayers use Free File to quickly, safely and accurately complete their returns. Filers with incomes of $73,000 and below can take advantage of the guided tax preparation option and file a federal return electronically for free via an IRS partner site.

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Pros:

  • Electronic forms are free of charge to all taxpayers
  • Name brand software
  • Step-by-step guidance and comprehensive customer service
  • Strict privacy and data security

Cons:

  • Services limited for taxpayers with over $73,000 in income
  • State returns are not free or available in every case
  • Distracting advertising

Good To Know

If you previously used TurboTax under IRS Free File, you’ll want to note that that’s no longer an option. Intuit discontinued its participation in IRS Free File because of restrictions the program places on providers, which the company said limited how it could serve customers for their tax needs and beyond. Intuit still provides free simple-return filing on TurboTax.com.

2. TurboTax Free Edition

TurboTax receives consistently high marks from users who appreciate its easy-to-use interface. The free version of this popular software includes many of the same features that are included in the paid editions. In the event of an IRS audit, TurboTax offers guidance and advice from an experienced tax professional.

Once your taxes are filed and your refund is on its way, you might appreciate learning more about your financial health with Mint, which provides a free educational credit score and tools to help you create a budget and manage your finances.

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TurboTax Free Edition is ideal for customers who have W-2 income and take the standard deduction. Taxpayers who itemize deductions or have different types of income can still file online or download the TurboTax Deluxe, Premier or Self-Employed bundles for a fee.

Pros:

  • Free filing for federal and state simple returns
  • Easy to upload and import tax data
  • Step-by-step guidance
  • 24/7 online support
  • CompleteCheck double-checks your return for accuracy

Cons:

  • Only simple returns with no schedules are free
  • Heavy advertising and upselling
  • Refund advances available to select customers only

3. H&R Block Free Online

H&R Block stands behind all of its tax preparation software, including H&R Block Free Online, with a maximum refund guarantee, professional audit support and a promise of 100% accuracy. As with its paid software, H&R Block’s free online option uses an interactive Q&A interface to guide taxpayers through the filing process. Although some users report that it might not be as easy to use as TurboTax, it remains an excellent choice for taxpayers looking for the best free tax software.

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Users who don’t meet the qualifications for free filing can receive in-person service at a local H&R Block office or can purchase more comprehensive versions of H&R Block software for a fee, depending on how complicated their tax situation is. 

Pros:

  • Free federal and state filing for qualified customers
  • Complimentary income tax and refund calculator
  • Autofill W-2 from a photo
  • Online technical support via instant chat
  • Convenient help center for answers to common tax questions
  • Easy drag-and-drop transfer of your previous year’s return
  • Layered data security and privacy protection
  • Accuracy check and audit protection

Cons:

  • Terms and concepts aren’t always well explained
  • Navigation tabs might take some getting used to

4. TaxAct Free

TaxAct guarantees the accuracy of all versions of its software, including the free one, and it also guarantees you’ll get your maximum refund when you use TaxAct to e-file your returns. Geared toward simplifying the process of preparing and filing your returns, TaxAct gives returning customers a head start by importing data straight from last year’s return. Before you file, TaxAct Alerts will double-check your return to ensure that it’s error-free and takes advantage of every tax break for which you qualify, plus it has audit protection. 

The free version of TaxAct is suitable for filers with W-2, unemployment or retirement income, and you can use it to claim deductions or credits for dependents and college expenses.

Pros:

  • Free federal filing for users with simple returns
  • Imports prior-year returns from TaxAct or other tax software
  • Step-by-step guidance through return process
  • Handles credits and deductions for dependents and college expenses
  • Guaranteed accuracy
  • Alerts for possible errors and omissions that could trigger an audit
  • Strong security features to keep data safe

Cons:

  • Poorly organized support page
  • Fee charged for filing state tax return

5. Cash App Taxes

To use Cash App Taxes, you can simply download Cash App to your phone and create an account. Then you can do your return on your phone, using the app or your computer. There’s now the added benefit of Cash App features like peer-to-peer payments, cash management and investing tools.

Unfortunately, not all tax forms are supported by the platform, so not all filers will be able to use the service.

Pros:

  • File for free
  • Maximum refund guarantee
  • Complimentary audit defense
  • Jump-start feature allows quick W-2 upload
  • Online help center provides answers to tax questions
  • Accuracy review before submission
  • Access to prior Credit Karma Tax returns

Cons:

  • No drag-and-drop option for previous returns
  • Cash App account required
  • Doesn’t support all forms

Final Take: Which Is the Best Free Tax Software for You?

As long as your tax situation is relatively simple, you can take advantage of some of the best free tax preparation software and e-file options that are available online via these reputable providers. Which one is best depends on your tax situation and your level of comfort using software to complete your returns.

FAQ

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding free tax software.
  • Is TurboTax better than IRS Free File?
    • The Free File platform is offered by the IRS, but state filing isn't necessarily free depending on the Free File option you use, and not all states participate. You can file state returns using the other options, and TurboTax and Cash App Taxes can even help you take control of other areas of your finances. Depending on where you live, TurboTax may be the better option due to it being more widely available.
  • What is the best software for doing your own taxes?
    • There are many tax software options available but some of the best free tax software options include the following.
      • -IRS Free File
      • -TurboTax Free Edition
      • -H&R Block Free Online
      • -TaxAct Free
      • -Cash App Taxes
  • Is TurboTax actually free?
    • The only free way to file with TurboTax is the TurboTax Free Edition. It is ideal for customers who have W-2 income and take the standard deduction.
  • Is H&R Block actually free?
    • H&R Block offers a Free Online service that is indeed free for filers. This service has a maximum refund guarantee, professional audit support and an accuracy promise.

Caitlyn Moorhead contributed to the reporting for this article.

Information is accurate as of Jan. 23, 2023. 

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

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About the Author

Alicia Bodine is a New Jersey-based writer specializing in finance, travel, gardening and education. With more than 13 years of experience, her work has appeared in Chron.com, Livestrong, eHow, USA TODAY, GlobalPost, Education.com and wiseGEEK.
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