Filing taxes can be overwhelming and expensive. In fact, the average American spends $210 in tax preparation fees.
For those on a tight budget or struggling with student loan debt, filing taxes can be a difficult expense to manage. But a new service from Credit Karma makes filing your taxes simple. And, more importantly, it’s free.
Below, find out how Credit Karma’s tax service works.
How does free Credit Karma tax filing work?
While there are some free tax filing options out there, most have income restrictions. And if you make more than $64,000, your options are pretty limited. However, Credit Karma is changing all of that.
On January 23, Credit Karma launched its new free tax service. It’s an online, self-directed tool for users to file both their federal and state taxes, regardless of income.
According to Bethy Hardeman, chief consumer advocate at Credit Karma, this new service is part of the company’s overall approach to helping consumers manage their finances.
“We believe that filing your taxes should be free — just like accessing your credit information,” Hardeman explains. “For nearly ten years, Credit Karma has provided more than 60 million members with free credit scores, credit reports and credit monitoring because we’re focused on helping our members save money and make financial progress.”
Who’s eligible for Credit Karma’s tax service?
Anyone can use the free Credit Karma tax program, including high earners.
“We help our members complete Form 1040, which means most Americans should be able to use our service to prepare and file their taxes,” says Hardeman. “We also help our members in 39 states and D.C. complete their state tax returns, which is nearly all states that require you to file a state tax return.”
Although the company is planning to expand it in the future, the platform is not all-inclusive just yet.
“There are some limitations in our first year,” noted Hardeman. “For example, we don’t support the filing of multiple state tax returns, part-year state filings or state filings without a federal filing, but many Americans should still be able to use Credit Karma Tax this year.”
How to file your taxes with Credit Karma
To use the free Credit Karma tax service, you first need to sign up for a Credit Karma account. The site will prompt you to enter your email, name, address, and the last four digits of your Social Security Number.
To confirm your identity, the company will ask you some questions about your financial history, such as what banks you use or what student loans you have open. You then need to provide a phone number for call or text security verification.
Once you complete the prompts, you can begin your tax return. The app walks you through each step, from your basic information to entering your dependents and income. It breaks it up into easy questions to help you through the process and to help prevent any mistakes.
If you feel comfortable handling your taxes on your own, you can skip the interview steps and enter your information manually. You can also decide if you want to itemize your deductions or apply the standard deduction, depending on what works best for your individual situation.
Once you complete your federal taxes, you can also complete your state return, if needed.
The platform is robust, so you can use it even if your taxes are more complicated than a simple, one-income return. Best of all, there’s no chance of hidden costs or fees.
“Our business model is unique, as no matter what new products or service we introduce, we’re committed to providing a service that’s always free,” says Hardeman.
What are the benefits of using Credit Karma’s tax tool?
Filing taxes can be very expensive, even when using self-directed programs. Credit Karma helps users save money while filing their taxes accurately and safely online.
“Preparing and filing tax returns is a fact of life for most American adults, but it’s one that typically involves a high cost or upsell, even when using online software that may be advertised as free,” says Hardeman.
And some software can be difficult to use, or counter-intuitive.
“Credit Karma Tax is easy to use and completely free, regardless of your tax situation or income,” Hardeman says. “Our goal is to make finance simpler, approachable and more human, and free tax preparation and filing can make a significant difference for our members.”
Filing your taxes for free is possible
It’s still early in the tax season, so start exploring your tax filing options to find what’s best for you. Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on tax preparation, there are many free options available to you.
Credit Karma’s tax service is an excellent free option that helps you get your full tax refund, if eligible. And you avoid spending a lot of money on a tax professional.
For more information about filing your taxes, check out this article on why you should avoid a tax refund loan.