Good news if you’re a procrastinator when it comes to filing your taxes: the tax deadline in 2023 is April 18, not the usual April 15. That’s because the 15th is a Saturday and the following Monday is Emancipation Day, a federal holiday. This means you get three extra days to get your taxes in to Uncle Sam (unless you file for an extension). So what’s the best way to file taxes? Sure, you can pay a company or hire an accountant to do the dirty work. But nothing’s better than free, right?
Tax season (by the way, 56 percent of Americans say they don’t know when tax filing deadlines are) can be hectic, and either approach can help offload that burden. Another survey in 2019 reports that filing taxes is so challenging that 44% of Americans wish they taught us how to do it in high school! When asked if they’d rather take a tax preparation course or a traditional calculus class, only 13% said they’d rather take the calculus class.
Maybe that’s why so many people wait until the last minute to get their taxes out of the way. Or perhaps it’s more scientific. A British professor recently explained how procrastination all comes down to cognitive biases.
But don’t let us give you more reasons to procrastinate. You came here looking for the best ways to file your taxes for free. Good news: we’ve done the work for you by sorting out the best free tax filing software below, according to 11 expert reviews. Our list is comprised of the five most suggested programs across these lists.
Once you know where to go come tax season, maybe you’ll be interested to see how much money you actually get to keep when you win the Powerball lottery, after taxes.
The List: Best Ways To File Taxes For Free
1. Credit Karma/Cash App Free Tax Filing
Many of us know Cash App as the main competitor to Venmo. Did you know it’s also the only truly free tax filing software for many people’s circumstances? “Unlike other free tax filing software that may charge for state returns or certain deductions, Cash App claims there are no restrictions. You can file state or federal taxes for free regardless of the deductions or credits you choose,” says ZDNet.
Once called Credit Karma tax filing, Cash App Tax works hard to ensure as many people as possible can file for free. “In 2022, the only company offering free state and Federal filing for ALL users is Cash App Taxes. Cash App Taxes (previously known as Credit Karma Tax) offers a surprisingly robust user experience, audit support guarantees, and support for most major tax situations,” writes The College Investor.
If you can be open-minded and accept that they’re still figuring it out—the software is still relatively new—this might be your go-to option this tax season.
“The lack of file importing and an unusual desktop login process might discourage some users from trying the service, but once you’re into the software it works like most programs: A simple, interview-style process collects information about your tax situation and uses it to populate IRS forms,“ writes CNET.
For now, though, it’s probably your best bet if you wanna pay absolutely nothing to file your taxes.
2. TaxSlayer Simply Free
TaxSlayer sometimes sits in the shadow of bigger name tax filing softwares. But it’s been around for a long time and quietly helped millions file their taxes for free.
Here’s how ZDNet lays it out:
“TaxSlayer Simply Free allows users to file federal income tax and state tax returns for free. However, the service is only offered to those with the simplest tax returns, such as W-2 income filers. If your tax situation meets the following the free service could be for you:
- You earn less than $100,000 in taxable income
- Have no dependents to claim
- File as Single or Married Filing Jointly
- Claim the standard deduction
- Can claim education credits
- Can deduct your student loan interest”
If you don’t meet these qualifications, filing is still a lot cheaper with TaxSlayer than other options. “If you find your taxes are a bit more complicated than expected, you can upgrade to TaxSlayer’s Classic version for less than $18,” writes Fool.
3. TurboTax Free Edition
TurboTax is the name brand in a lot of people’s minds when it comes to tax filing software. So, how does the big name brand hold up?
According to The New York Times, pretty well: “After testing six online tax apps, we can say with confidence that TurboTax Free Edition is the most sophisticated, accurate, and straightforward tool for the job. Because of its superior step-by-step tax guidance, TurboTax has been one of our top picks since we started testing tax software in 2013. But there are two cases where we think you should take a different route.”
Money.com also chose TurboTax as their best free tax filing software option. “We chose TurboTax as the best tax software for investors for its help with reporting sales of investment securities and funds earning, among other investment services included in its wide range of tax-filing products.”
4. H&R Block
The other titan in this industry, H&R block has helped literally millions of people file. “Yes, the service is free for both federal and state if you are filing a simple tax return. It covers unemployment income, retirement income, W-2 income, and interest and dividend income,” writes Business Insider.
They are still a fine option for lots of Americans to take care of taxes come April. However, in many cases, upgrades, which cost money, may rear their head if your situation calls for it.
“Watch out if you have to claim an HSA contribution (even if it’s reported on a W-2) or if you have child care expenses. People who may qualify for the Retirement Saver’s Credit also have to upgrade,” says The College Investor.
Simple. Affordable. Time-conscious. E-file offers free tax filing software to a small number of folks who have basic information to submit. Free is ideal, yes, but their emphasis on affordable tax filing solutions for all taxpayers does make them a great candidate for this list.
“E-file is a good choice for budget-conscious filers who just need the basics. Its filing process is simple: once you create an account, enter your taxpayer information and E-file will prepare your return. The standard interface features prior-year import and a support sidebar that guides you every step,” says Money.com.
If you know your situation isn’t going to land you 100% free filing with any of the top filing softwares, E-file could be a great alternative.
- The College Investor
- NY Times’ Wirecutter
- Free Tax USA
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