What is the best free online tax service to use in 2017? If you have a simple or 1040ez tax return, there are a number of free versions of tax software from popular brands. But, which is best for you, and is it truly free? We researched the most popular free tax sites online, and came up with our list of the best four options to consider.
Just remember that if you have a mortgage, claim dependents, or have other deductions, you might have to opt for one of the premium versions of the software. (with the exception of TaxAct, which can handle complex tax returns for free)
Paying up front for a premium or “deluxe” edition is often a good investment, costing less than what you could lose from a single missed deduction. Also, while these brands offer free filing of your Federal taxes, State fees are often extra unless you meet their qualifications including a maximum income threshold. Here’s our list of the best “free” tax software options:
- View the Turbo Tax Free Edition
- Best Free Federal efile.
- State fees: Free or $37 extra
- Coupons for all editions– 10-20% off Deluxe, Premier, etc.
- pcmag.com rating: 4.5/5
As one of the most user-friendly tax programs on the market, you should find that you have no problem using Turbo Tax. This really is the best free tax software that absolute novices can use with utter ease. One of the major pros of this tax software option is the fact that it imports tax documents from a vast variety of companies.
In fact, it may come as something of a surprise to learn that this particular software imports documents from 1.4 million financial institutions and other companies. I’m sure that you’ll agree that is seriously comprehensive; more so than many of the other downloads on the market.
To truly pay nothing to file with TurboTax AbsoluteZero, you must meet a number of qualifications, including that your adjusted gross income be under $31k. (Or, under $60k for military or those who are eligible for the earned income tax credit.)
The free version of TurboTax is pretty decent, however, there are also paid-for versions that are available including their popular Deluxe Edition. The cost of these forms of software tends to rise depending on how close the tax return deadline is. Make sure that you check out all the small print before you agree to anything. That way, you can be sure that you will never, ever get caught out.
#2: H&R Block
- View the H&R Block free edition
- Free Federal efile
- State filing fees: Free or $10 extra
- Coupons for all editions– Up to 50% off!
- pcmag.com rating: 3.5/5
You’ve likely heard of the H&R Block free software before now. They do a ton of advertising during tax season, and there are hundreds of H&R Block office locations spread out through strip malls in every state.
Their website states that their free version is “best for first-time tax filers,” meaning that only simple returns will actually be free. While it’s true that this software is easy to use, there’s something you should know before you attempt to use it for yourself. You see, like TurboTax, the free version of H&R Block is only available for your Federal returns in most cases.
H&R Block has a number of qualifications for their software to truly be free including that your adjusted gross income not exceed $53k, and you must be under age 53. If you have a mortgage or are self-employed, consider their Deluxe Edition for as little as $25.
If you aren’t filing a 1040ez tax form, or you’re hoping to complete a more comprehensive version that searches for deductions, you will need to fork out money for the pleasure of doing so. That’s likely enough to put a fair few people off, but there are a whole load of advantages to using this tax accounting software.
If you need a little extra help along the way when it comes to filing your taxes, you should find that H&R Block is the perfect program for you. The helpful little ‘Learn More’ button is always available, which means that you should never have any problem understanding the software. All you have to do is click the tab and a short description box will open. Perfect. The navigation of the software should also be simple to follow; it works as a step-by-step platform which means you will never get lost.
- View their free version at taxact.com
- Free download, free Federal efile
- State filing fee: $14.99 extra
- pcmag.com rating: 4/5
Again, this “free” software is only free when it comes to filing your Federal tax return. Still, it’s well worth your time and really is one of the best free tax software options on the market right now. Unlike it’s competitors TaxAct is not limited to simple tax returns, and can handle more complex tax situations than just 1040ez.
For a long time, it was hailed as one of the cheapest ways to do your taxes. However, you should know that there are a few costs to be considered before leaping at this opportunity. For example, if you need to itemize your accounts, you will actually need to use TaxACT Plus, which costs $14.99.
To qualify for the TaxAct Free File version, you must have an adjusted gross income under $52k.
So, what do you get with this tax software and why should you use it? Well, the security features on TaxACT are quite top-notch. For example, after just a few minutes of inactivity, the program will log you out safely. That means that you will never accidentally leave your personal information out for all to see. What’s more, the accounting software allows you to review your summary as you go. Bonus.
- One of the top free tax preparation software downloads online
- Free Federal efile, State fee: free or $22
- Visit taxslayer.com | Look for coupons
- pcmag.com rating: 3/5
Finally, we come to TaxSlayer. I’m not a fan of the name, as I always picture a clip-art quality dragon getting slayed by a knight, but maybe that’s just me.
Compared to other accounting and tax programs on the market, Tax Slayer s is a rather basic setup. However, that does not mean that you should make the mistake of overlooking it. If you’re hoping for a straightforward, clean way to do your taxes, you may just have found it.
There is a rather helpful ‘Program Guide’ which will take you through the step-by-step process of completing your forms. Still, if you are used to filing your taxes, you might not even need the guide at all. Should that be the case, you can move ahead to the forms and get on with it. What’s more, the program supports all the most popular IRS forms, and so you should have no problems using this software.
The best free software for filing your taxes: just don’t sacrifice features for “free”
So, with the exception of TaxAct, the free version of any software is intended for simple tax returns. If you have kids and a mortgage, you’re likely better off paying for a premium version of their software. In most cases, this will help you find more deductions, which will ultimately more than pay for the cost of the software. In fact, a single missed deduction, like giving $200 to charity, could cost you more than you saved by going with the free version of the software.
In any event, good luck, and I hope you’re able to truly file your taxes for free! If you’ve had experience with any of these free tax options, please send us your review!
- When free tax filing isn’t free – nydailynews.com