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Home » Best of, Taxes

5 of the Cheapest & Best Ways to E-File your Taxes

Last updated by on 21 Comments

E-filing? Try These 5 Free Options

I’ve always used paid Turbotax & H&R Block electronic and software products to do my own taxes, however, there are some great free and much cheaper options available for those who have relatively simple returns and a low enough adjusted gross income (less than $58,000). After researching the marketplace, here are the five options that topped my list if your goal is to have the cheapest e-file tax return.

FreeFile: You can fill out forms online through the IRS website fillable forms website and then e-file. The only problem with this route is that you can’t prepare or submit your state return through the IRS. This can be a bit of a pain if you have to go elsewhere to do your state return (and all the data that you’ve already entered does not transfer with you). For state returns, the IRS lists 14 approved e-file vendors to choose from, many of whom offer free e-filing on federal returns. I’ll highlight a few of the best offers below.

efiling-taxesSave 25% on H&R Block At Home Online ProductsTurbotax: Offers a free e-file edition for those with and adjusted income of $30,000 or less ($58,000 or less for active military), or to those who are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. If you choose to file a state e-file, it’ll cost you $27.99. If you choose to upgrade to another version, your data is transferred.

H&R Block: Also offers a free-file edition. Free e-file edition, costs $27.99, if you would like to add the state e-file. H&R Block offers free audit support. I used H&R last year and really like it. They are offering 25% off their online editions right now. To use it, your Adjusted Gross Income must be $58,000 or less and you must be age 52 or less.

TaxAct: Offers a free-file, and $14.99 for federal and state combined – however, they are not as reputable as Turbotax and H&R Block. Eligibility requires your adjusted gross income be $52,000 or less and your age be between 18 and 57.

TaxSlayer: Offers free federal and $23.90 state e-file for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $30,000.

OLT Online Taxes: The cheapest selection at $7.95 for a state efile, if you qualify (income between $13,000 and $58,000), but not as well renowned of a name as the other options listed here.

There are no vendors that offer free-file to those with adjusted gross income over $52,000. If your income is higher and/or you have a complicated return, I’d recommend going with the most appropriate paid Turbotax or H&R Block editions.

E-Filing Discussion:

  • What’s the cheapest way that you’ve been able to file your taxes, while getting the best return?
  • Have you done your taxes yet?
  • How are you filing your taxes this year? (take the poll)

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I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 7,500+ others by getting FREE email updates. You'll also find every post by category & every post in order.


21 Comments »
  • Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback says:

    Don’t forget that you can often file your state return for free through your state’s Dept. of Revenue (or equivalent) website.

    I just finished up my tax returns using H&R Block’s TaxCut (the free-file version), and I was able to avoid the $29.95 state fee by doing it myself online through the state’s website.

    It’s not that hard usually. You’ll already have the information you need to complete your state return. Just make sure you save a PDF copy of your Federal return and you’ll be set. If you can’t print to a PDF, look up CutePDF and install it.

    It’s worth doing it yourself. It really doesn’t take long at all!

  • James says:

    Has anyone used TaxAct before? How is it?

    • S M says:

      James,
      I have used it for a few years at least. It was one of the lower priced options at the time. I think I have paid 12-15 for both Fed and state over the years. The 2014 rate is 19.99.

      Prior to this, I have used Turbo Tax. Did not find any huge issues with the accuracy/user interface of either product.

  • G.E. Miller says:

    @ Paul – some good tips. Just to emphasize Paul’s point, Turbotax, H&R Block, and some of the other software won’t allow you to transfer data automatically from your free federal e-file. Instead, it would have to be a manual entry based on the information you input for your federal return. I haven’t tried this method, so not sure how easy it is. How long would you say it takes, Paul?

  • P.R. says:

    If you’ve used TurboTax free version before, they will automatically transfer last year’s data and charge you for it at the end. From what I could tell, there’s no way to avoid this data transfer, so you have to pay $15 to file if you’ve used TurboTax before.

  • allen says:

    Question:

    I use the purchased version of TurboTax (due to it being easier to deal with some investments I have); Can i still use any of these services to file them free? I make under the limit. Do i just print the forms to PDF and email it to them, &c?

    Sorry, taxes can be a worrying time. Thanks for any guidance up front!

    -=allen

  • G.E. Miller says:

    @ P. R. – Good heads up.

    @ Allen – If you used a purchased version, I believe you get 5 free e-files with it, so there’s no need to go directly through the IRS site – not sure if it transfers over to a state site for free. You may want to check out your individual state’s site. My state had a listing of products that you could use.

  • allen says:

    @G.E. Miller: Ooooo… i must be thinking of the stupid fee you pay if you want direct deposit from the IRS.

  • Shaun Connell says:

    I’m hiring someone this year, though next year I’ll probably file for myself. ::bookmarked::

  • Mohammed says:

    @ Paul – some good tips. Just to emphasize Paul’s point, Turbotax, H&R Block, and some of the other software won’t allow you to transfer data automatically from your free federal e-file. Instead, it would have to be a manual entry based on the information you input for your federal return. I haven’t tried this method, so not sure how easy it is. How long would you say it takes, Paul?

  • Anton Ivanov | Dreams Cash True says:

    TurboTax all the way for me. Definitely not the cheapest option, but as a stock market and real estate investor and a business owner, I have found their tax preparation process very easy and straightforward. Never had a problem with any of my returns and it beats paying a few hundred dollars to an accountant.

  • Shobir says:

    Some excellent resources here. I’ve never liked dealing with my taxes and hated to hire an accountant. Some of the recommendations mentioned here are excellent and has given me lots of ideas to go forward. Turbo Tax looks really interesting and I will have to give that some serious thought. Really liking the blog, keep the useful information coming. Thanks ever so much!

  • Imran says:

    Taxes can be a pain, this post really made me think about all the helpful resources available on the internet. I was particularly interested in the features of Turbo Tax. I feel like a burden is lifted from me every time I file my tax return. Some excellent information here, thanks for sharing.

  • Calvin Whitehead says:

    You could also try FreeTaxUSA. I’ve used them for years and the federal return is always free. The state return is just $13 bucks and if you use CALVIN25 as a coupon code, you’ll get 25% off.

  • Jane says:

    Very upset with H & R Block. They won’t add EIC to the Federal refund unless you upgrade (14.99), and then filing the state tax form electronically, which our state almost demands, is an additional 36.99 – while their ad states that there is free state filing. None of this is clear until you get into the program. Won’t use again.

  • Alicia says:

    H&R Block only charged me $14.99 to file my 2013 California State taxes. I used the free Federal tax return and then did my state taxes. The total charge was $14.99.

    I also tried TurboTax but they were more expensive. Their software is easier to use…more intuitive but also more expensive. I don’t mind entering the info twice because it verifies that I did my taxes correctly. :)

  • Melissa says:

    I’m not sure where the $15 fee is coming from? Last time I checked, Turbo Tax charges you $27.99 to transfer federal info to the state?

    • G.E. Miller says:

      It was $15 a few weeks back. Looks like the sale is over and it is back to $27.99. I’ve updated the article to reflect.

      • Kevin says:

        Today I filed through TurboTaxes free e-file edition. I filed as a part-year resident for both Georgia and California. GA was free, CA was $14.99, so the price depended on the state for which I was filing. The TurboTax edition or residency status could have possibly played a role, but I’m not sure about this.

  • S M says:

    Hi,
    FYI, TaxACT shows 19.99 as the price for filing Fed+State, so looks like this has changed from the 14.99 mentioned in the article.

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