Top – 7 Free Online Tax Preparation Software and Services
Even if you have a very straightforward tax situation, such as being employed by a single employer and not qualifying for numerous itemized deductions, you can benefit from more than a dozen free online tax preparation software tools to help you prepare your federal tax return.
Those who don’t want to deplete their federal refund or hand over their credit card information before submitting their tax returns to the IRS may appreciate this development (though there are solid arguments to be made for paying taxes with a credit card).
There аre а number оf serviсes, inсluding well-knоwn nаmes like H&R Blосk, thаt рrоvide free stаte tаx returns, rаising the рrоsрeсt оf аn entirely fee-free tаx seаsоn in the future.
The Free File Аlliаnсe, аn IRS-sроnsоred соnsоrtium оf оnline tаx рreраrаtiоn соmраnies thаt dоes nоt аlwаys рrоvide free returns in every stаte, is the оnly exсeрtiоn tо this rule. These serviсes аre аvаilаble tо residents оf аll 50-stаtes, the Distriсt оf Соlumbiа, аnd United Stаtes сitizens serving аbrоаd.
H&R Block is one of the most well-known tax preparation companies in the United States.
It boasts thousands of storefront tax preparation locations around the United States, as well as a robust, user-friendly online tax preparation alternative for those who want to submit their taxes from home.
If your tax situation isn’t very complicated, you’re likely to qualify for its free federal filing program, which includes unlimited free state returns as part of the package deal.
Those who qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act will benefit from H&R Block’s free filing plan, which is designed for consumers with straightforward tax circumstances.
It is not, however, designed to assist filers who have capital gains or losses, self-employment income, interest and regular dividend income, or rental property income, among other things.
It also does not allow you to store or access previous year’s tax returns – you must subscribe to a paid plan in order to do so, which is not free.
When you use H&R Block’s Refund Transfer service to pay your filing fees with your refund, there is a steep fee to be paid as well.
In contrast, H&R Block’s free edition comes with a number of advantageous features. For starters, it is open to citizens of all 50-states and is not subject to any other limitations or requirements.
All filers are immediately eligible for free, in-person audit support, which includes hands-on advice and assistance with audit preparation, regardless of whether or not they file electronically.
Moreover, in the event that you become seriously stuck, you may always walk into an H&R Block office near you, albeit in-person assistance might incur an additional charge.
#2. TurboTax Federal Free Filing Option
TurboTax’s Federal Free Filing option is perfect for taxpayers with straightforward tax situations. TurboTax’s free version contains the majority of the features and capabilities of the company’s paid choices, including a best-and-fastest return guarantee, support via live chat, W-2 imports, and the ability to file electronically or by mail.
Additionally, it allows you to apply for the first tax free. An estimated $40 can be calculated on this.
Incredibly easy to use, TurboTax’s tax preparation interface is full of clear, basic questions that help you at all stages of the installation process, reducing the chances of making a avoidable mistake.
Citizens of all 50-states can use this opportunity as well. In addition, there is no limit to the maximum income.
The free TurboTax program is not enough to deal with complex tax issues. Upgrade to a paid program if you have a high interest rate or interest margin, rental income, or company income, or if you qualify for certain general tax benefits (such as Student Loan Debt).
Moreover, customer support for anything but technical issues is more limited at this price point.
To pay your tax preparation fees with your federal refund, you must pay a high refund payment processing fee, which is deducted from your refund.
The excellent news is that TurboTax offers a variety of options at a variety of price points.
If you find that the free version is no longer adequate for your requirements, you can easily change to a premium plan at any time without losing any information.
#3. The Cash App Taxes
Cash App Taxes (previously known as Credit Karma Tax) offers only one plan, which is completely free for all filers to use. You cannot get much better than that.
There are some devils in the details, as they always are. Cash App Taxes, in contrast to larger competitors, does not provide any expert advice, making it a poor alternative if the complexity of your tax issue exceeds your knowledge of tax law.
There are various feature deficiencies in the platform that may have an impact on filers who have atypical tax situations (for instance, those who earned income from foreign sources). In addition, if you haven’t already, you’ll need to download the Cash App.
Cash App Taxes, on the other hand, provides free state returns as well as 24-hour customer service and assistance.
The tax preparation interface, like the rest of the Cash App, is bright and user-friendly on mobile devices. In fact, you can quickly complete the entire tax preparation procedure using only your smartphone.
TaxSlayer’s free file option plan does not impose any limits on users based on their domicile or citizenship. For low- and middle-income filers, federal filing is completely free. One state return is included; extra state returns can be purchased for around $37 per return, depending on the state.
TaxSlayer’s Free File Federal service, on the other hand, has several significant drawbacks. The Simply Free plan, which was originally designed to accommodate tax circumstances of varying complexity, is now restricted to the most straightforward cases.
The following are examples of circumstances that are not covered by the Simply Free plan:
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
- Stock sales
- Itemized deductions
- Self-employment income
- Rental property income
Moreover, you will not be able to take use of TaxSlayer’s audit support services or use the website’s live chat feature while on the trial period.
Furthermore, even though TaxSlayer’s nonprofessional customer care crew is available by phone, TaxSlayer prioritizes higher-paying clients — those who use the Premium and Self-Employed editions — at the front of the line when they call. So, if you call during a busy period, make arrangements to be comfortable.
FreeTaxUSA, despite the fact that it is less well-known, provides free federal tax filing for tax circumstances of all complexity levels.
Known as Totally Free, it is a tax preparation software that covers all major forms and schedules, as well as handy features such as prior-year tax return importation and storage, among others.
Tax preparation software from FreeTaxUSA also includes free live support from customer service representatives, albeit their list of tax professionals falls short of that of larger competitors such as TurboTax and H&R Block.
FreeTaxUSA is available to filers throughout the United States, while state returns are priced at $14.99 each return.
There are also significant disadvantages to using FreeTaxUSA, which includes a lack of research support (which, in the Deluxe version, includes assistance in interpreting IRS notifications, compiling responses, and preparing documents needed to evaluate your research).
And it is not compatible with mobile phones, which makes it a bad alternative for files that prefer to use tablets or smartphones to upload their documents.
If you’re under the age of 65, FileYourTaxes.com is a low-key internet tax preparation service that offers free tax preparation to anyone under the age of 65.
The income eligibility requirements are extremely lenient, ranging from $9,500 to $73,000 annual gross income. It is offered to anyone who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit and who meet all other qualifying requirements.
Active-duty military personnel who file their taxes are also eligible for free filing.
In addition, in four states: Iowa, Idaho, North Dakota, and Vermont, filers who qualify for free federal tax returns can file their state tax returns for free. If this is not the case, an additional state tax return fee will be charged.
The fact that FileYourTaxes.com’s free tax filing option is completely customizable is one of its most compelling selling factors.
It’s a good option not only for people with straightforward tax situations and lower-income individuals who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.
It is also applicable in complex cases, such as capital gains and losses, self-employment, interest and general dividend income, rental income, and other similar conditions.
There is some trade-offs in terms of performance, but overall, FileYourTaxes.com is a reliable decision to supplement income tax for most people.
#7. Free File Fillable Forms
If your adjusted gross income (AGI) is greater than $69,000 and you don’t mind doing your own tax filing, you can still take use of a free electronic filing system operated by the IRS. FreeFileFillableForms.com provides access to the Internal Revenue Service’s comprehensive database of tax forms and schedules in PDF format.
Fill out the necessary paperwork through the IRS’s online system and submit them through the IRS’s electronic filing system in order to finish your tax return.
Similarly to when using a branded online tax preparation service, you will get your refund (if applicable) on the same schedule as when using TurboTax.
It is not necessary to complete your full tax return in one sitting because your work is automatically saved as you go when using Free File Fillable Forms.
No matter how complicated your tax situation is, you’ll be able to find the forms and schedules you need to file your tax return right here, subject to the restrictions indicated by the Internal Revenue Service.
There are no restrictions on who can use Free File Fillable Forms based on their income, age, citizenship status, or any other factor.
However, while Free File Fillable Forms may appear to be the ultimate in free filing options, there is a significant catch: the IRS provides no support at all to taxpayers who choose to use this resource.
This means you must be familiar with the IRS’s library of tax preparation resources, or at the very least be confident enough to navigate the IRS’s library of tax preparation resources to learn how.
If you have a straightforward tax situation and have previously prepared your own taxes, this may not be an insurmountable obstacle to overcome.
It is not a good alternative if your case is more difficult or if you are uncomfortable with the concept of filing your tax return without the assistance of a professional.
Even a seemingly inconsequential preparation error could result in the IRS rejecting your tax return and requiring you to re-file, causing your return to be delayed in the process. It is possible that you will be targeted for an audit in the worst case scenario.
Also keep in mind that functionality is significantly restricted in this area — you cannot, for example, import prior-year tax returns.
IRS Free File Alliance
The services listed above are not the only free tax preparation choices available to low- to moderate-income taxpayers. It is possible that you will be eligible to file your taxes for free through an IRS Free File Alliance provider if your adjusted gross income (AGI) was less than $73,000 last year and you have a very easy tax position.
The Free File Alliance is a directory service that provides direct access to roughly a dozen free tax filing services provided by a consortium of member tax preparation companies, all of which must meet stringent quality and security standards specified by the Internal Revenue Service.
Since the Alliance’s founding in the early 2000s, tens of millions of tax returns have been submitted for free, according to the Free File Alliance, which claims that approximately 70% of the United States’ taxpaying population is eligible for free filing.
Find out what alternatives are available to you with the Free File Alliance Lookup Tool, which is available to everyone.
In what ways does the Free File Alliance benefit its members and the general public?
Among those taking part in the Free File Alliance include well-known online and offline tax preparation services such as Jackson Hewitt and TurboTax, as well as lesser-known options such as Online Taxes @ OLT.com and ezTaxReturn.com.
Jackson Hewitt and TurboTax are among the more well-known members. However, some well-known tax preparation companies, such as H&R Block, have pulled out in recent years due to financial difficulties.
Aside from the AGI ceiling of $73,000, each participating company is subject to a set of eligibility requirements. Keep the following points in mind while determining your Free File Alliance eligibility and access:
- Obtaining Access to Free File-Sharing Platforms: When filing your tax return with any of the participating companies, you must do so through the Free File website in order to be eligible for the free filing offer. Like an affiliate promotion, you will not receive the deal unless you click on the affiliate link on the partner website.
- Age Restrictions: The Free File Alliance’s eligibility requirements are more geared at younger people. Although not all platforms apply age restrictions, those that do tend to limit participation to individuals between the ages of 50 and 70.
- Income Restrictions: Some Free File Alliance members apply tougher upper income limitations, which are lower than the $73,000 cap set by the organization. In some instances, these limits can be as low as $60,000 in some instances.
- Status of Citizenship: Some free filing alternatives are only available to citizens and permanent residents of the United States. While on a work visa or other temporary agreement in the United States, check with your favorite tax preparation service to see if you are qualified for any tax breaks or credits.
- Complexity of the tax situation: Some Free File Alliance organizations exclusively provide free filing to those who have straightforward tax situations.A filing fee may still be required even if you’re a self-employed independent contractor, small business owner, or investor, or if your situation is problematic for any other reason. As a result, it’s critical to carefully consider your alternatives and select from among those that provide free preparation for persons who need to submit Schedules C, D, and E, as well as other forms that are prevalent in complicated tax situations.
- Locality of the Filer: Some Free File Alliance companies refuse to assist filers in specific states because of legal restrictions. Ensure that the service you want to use is available in your area before signing up for it.
- Platform Functionality: The functionality of a platform might differ from one program to another. Some states, for example, restrict the ability to import prior-year tax returns and forms into your current-year tax return; others do not.Others have a restricted number of customer service representatives. Before making a decision on a service, it is best to thoroughly review the terms and conditions of each service.
State-of-the-art File Management Programs
The IRS also maintains linkages with over two dozen state-level Free File programs (marked in deep blue on the map below), which in turn leverage relationships with name-brand tax filing providers that meet the security and quality criteria of the states in which they operate.
In the same way that the federal Free File program has different qualifying requirements for different companies and states, so do the state-specific eligibility requirements.
Our Final words
Even if they are pretty confident that they will receive a sizable refund, I don’t know many people who enjoy the process of completing their taxes.
Tax preparation requires time and effort, and even the most sophisticated software systems cannot completely protect you from making mistakes.
Filing for free will not make up for the inconvenience, but it will let you to retain more of your money where it belongs: in your pocket or wallet.
Free filing choices, on the other hand, are not suitable for everyone. In most cases, the little upfront savings are not worth it if you have a complicated tax situation, such as if you are self-employed, run a business, or have investment income from many sources.
A simple clerical error might quickly wipe out the money you saved on your tax return. Furthermore, you may put yourself at risk for a difficult and potentially costly IRS audit.
There’s nothing wrong with subscribing for a premium plan or even employing a certified public accountant who can provide one-on-one attention if necessary.
If you do decide to hire a CPA, Circle CPA would be our first and foremost recommendation. Its certified public accountants (CPAs) provide superior tax preparation services on a fee-for-service basis.
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