5 of the Cheapest & Best Ways to E-File your Taxes in 2023

E-filing? Try These 5 Free E-File Options

This article has been updated for the 2023 tax filing season (for the 2022 tax year). I’ve always used and recommended paid TurboTax & H&R Block online and (previously) CD software products to do my own taxes. Both companies have have free and cheap options available for those who have relatively simple tax returns, but neither participates in the IRS Free File Alliance for lower income taxpayers that fall with specified age and adjusted gross income ranges.

While TurboTax and H&R Block might be the best options for most e-filers, there are other reputable alternatives as well. 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. I have affiliate partnerships with all tax software companies & the links lead to the best available discounts for their products.

Let’s start with my two favorites: H&R Block and TurboTax.

cheapest efile

H&R Block: offers a basic free federal and state version called “Free Online” that has no income or age restrictions, covering basic 1040 filings. If you start with the free version, you can easily transfer and upgrade to a different version at a later time if you have additional forms in your return, but your return must be started on their website. I have used H&R Block the last few years and really like their program. H&R Block is offering 15% off their paid online versions for a limited time (Deluxe, Premium, & Self-Employed) at that link.

TurboTax: offers a basic free federal and state e-file version, for simple tax returns only and not all taxpayers qualify, called “Free Edition”. If you choose to upgrade to another version, your data is transferred if you start your return on the TurboTax website. TurboTax’s paid online versions can be found here (with best available pricing).

TaxSlayer: TaxSlayer’s “Simply Free” version offers free basic federal and state e-file version, covering basic 1040s. You can also get 25%+ discount on TaxSlayer’s paid versions at that link.

TaxAct: TaxAct “Free” offers a free-file for basic 1040 federal returns (note that adding a state filing costs $39.95 per state). You can upgrade to another version, if you start your return at taxact.com. If you have more than a basic return, can get 25% off TaxAct’s paid versions here.

Cash App Taxes: Cash App Taxes, formerly “Credit Karma Tax” and now a division of Square/Block Inc. offers free federal and state e-file, with a few limitations.

U.S. Military & IRS Free E-File Options:

  • MilTax: members of the U.S. Military are eligible for the U.S. Department of Defense’s MilTax software, available through Military OneSource for no charge.
  • Free File: if your AGI is below $73,000 and your age falls within certain ranges, and you live within certain states, there are “FreeFile” e-file provider options, but none that I would recommend more than the previously mentioned free and paid online programs above, which don’t have income and age restrictions. Some of the offers require an income far below $73,000 and some of the programs do not permit you to switch to an upgraded paid version later on, if needed, which means you may have to restart fresh and re-enter all of your tax information a 2nd time. As noted earlier, H&R Block and Turbotax are no longer participating in the Free File Alliance.
  • Fillable Forms: If your income is above $73,000 (as well as below), and you are up for some work and have plenty of time, you can fill out forms online through the IRS fillable forms website and then e-file with them. The big problem with this route is that you can’t prepare or submit your state return through the IRS. This is a big pain because you have to go elsewhere to do your state return – often at a cost – aside from a few of the options noted above. Additionally, all information you enter is purged every November, meaning that it does not carry over from one tax filing to the next year’s filing. Also, fillable forms are not nearly as simple to fill out as tax software. You literally are filling out IRS tax forms. I would not recommend it – but it is an option available to you for free e-filing.

Note: there are no IRS approved vendors that offer free-file through the Free File Alliance to those with adjusted gross income over $73,000 (and many have age, state, and other restrictions as well). If your income is higher and/or you invest, are a homeowner, a parent of a child, you claim major tax credits or deductions, you have self-employment income, or itemize deductions, I’d recommend going with the most appropriate paid TurboTax or H&R Block version.

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?

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