E-filing? Try These 5 Free Options
I have updated this post for 2018 (2017 tax year). I’ve always used and recommended paid Turbotax & H&R Block electronic and software products to do my own taxes. Both have have free and cheap options available for those who have relatively simple returns, or through the Free File Alliance if you 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.
Lets start with my two favorites: H&R Block and Turbotax.
H&R Block: offers a basic free-file federal and state edition called “More Zero” that has no income or age restrictions. If you start with this free version, you can easily transfer and upgrade to a different version at a later time if you have a more complicated 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 offers free audit support and 1:1 help. H&R Block is offering $20 off their paid versions for a limited time (deluxe, premium, & self employed) at that link.
Turbotax: offers a free basic federal and state e-file edition called “Absolute Zero”. If you choose to upgrade to another version, your data is transferred if you start your return on their website. Right now, Turbotax is offering a limited-time 20% off discount on higher level paid products as well.
TaxAct: TaxAct “Free” offers a free-file for federal and state returns. You can upgrade, if you start your return at Taxact.com.
If you have more than a basic return, can get 20% off TaxAct here.
FreeFile: if your income is below $66,000, there are a number of options, but none that I would recommend more than the previously mentioned software.
Fillable Forms: If your income is above $66,000, 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. 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 $66,000 (and many have age restrictions as well). If your income is higher and/or you invest, are a homeowner, or itemize deductions, I’d recommend going with the most appropriate paid Turbotax or H&R Block editions mentioned earlier.
- 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?