Five Solid Choices for Free Online Tax Preparation Software & Services

Tax preparation can be expensive even if you have a simple return when you go with a paid service at a tax consultant’s office. There are several free online tax preparation software and services options available. We’ve reviewed several of them and narrowed our list to the five solid choices for do it yourself tax preparation. We made our selections in accordance with the programs that are dependable, easy to use, free and the most highly recommended by other users.

1. TaxAct Free Edition

TaxAct offers a free edition of their software for do it yourself tax preparers. The platform is user friendly and it is free for those who are qualified to file a 1040EZ or a 1040A form for simple tax situations. There are eligibility requirements to use the free version though. You must meet one of the following qualifications. You must have an AGI under $55,000 and be below the age of 56. You must qualify for the Earned Income Ta Credit. If you are active military then your AGI must be under $66,000. There is also no fee for filers who must also file a state return so you can use the software to file without paying anything out of your pocket, however, the federal filing fees will cost approximately $20.

2. eSmart Tax Free Plan

The eSmart Tax Plan offers a free version and it is a subsidiary of Liberty Tax. It should not be confused with Liberty Tax online because although the two belong to the same parent company they are both distinctly different companies. In order to use the free software that offers a variety of features, you must meet one of the qualifications. Your AGI must be $66,000 or lower and if you are age 53 or younger, you will qualify for free federal filing. All filers who are active military qualify for the free version at any age.
One of the helpful features of eSmart free is that you can import previous tax years from H&R Block and Turbo Tax for up to five years of returns. There is a charge of $19.95 per state if you are required to file state taxes.

3. Free File Fillable Forms

You can use the Free File Fillable Forms service for free if your AGI is over $66,000. This is a free electronic filing system that is administered by the IRS. All of the tax forms offered through the IRS are available in a PDF Format through this service. All you need to do to complete your tax return is to fill out all of the required forms through the online service and when you are finished you submit the forms through the e-filing system of the IRS. One of the advantages of using the Fillable forms service is that it automatically saves your work for you so if you can’t complete it all in one session, it will be there when you return to complete it.

4. TaxSlayer.com Free File Federal (American Pledge)

TaxSlayer offers a free file option that does not require you to be a US citizen or resident. If you are under the age of 50 it is free for your to file if your earnings are under $66,000 AGI cap. The one drawback is that you must pay $29 per state if you are required to file state taxes. The TaxSlayer free federal filing platform is very user friendly.

5. H&R Block Online Free Edition

H&R block also offers a free online tax preparations software/service. The online platform is user friendly and it is free for at home filers who have a gross AGI of $66,000 or less, be 51 years of age or less and qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit to become eligible. The free filing option is a good choice for people who have simple tax situations. If you are in a moderately complex tax situation the free version is not set up to handle your filing needs. The free version does not allow you to store your return or to access past returns so there are a few drawbacks to using this free service. Some of the perks on the other hand are its availability to residents of all 50 states and there are not any other restrictions other than those mentioned. You also qualify for free audit support.


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