No one enjoys tax time, but it’s especially hard when you’re on a tight budget. Paying for someone to prepare your taxes for you or using a pricey service online can be a significant strain on your finances. In fact, the average American spends $210 to file their taxes, reported the IRS.
However, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Here are six legitimate tax software resources you can use to file taxes free of charge.
1. Credit Karma
Although some free tax preparation services have income restrictions, Credit Karma does not. The company offers a completely free online program that’s self-directed, and users can file both their federal and state returns at no cost.
Anyone can use the program regardless of salary; that means even high-earners can file their taxes for free. Most people are eligible to use Credit Karma’s tax service, but there are some exceptions, including:
- Users who need to file multiple state returns
- Residents of New Mexico
- Individuals with estate and trust income
If you are new to filing taxes, Credit Karma will walk you through each step. The program asks you questions and your responses are entered directly into the tax forms. If you’re experienced and don’t want to deal with the prompts, you can opt to fill out the forms on your own and file electronically through the program.
Depending on your income or profession, you might be able to file your federal and state returns for free with eSmart Tax.
If you’re between the ages of 18 and 54 and make $64,000 or less a year, you don’t have to pay a fee to file your returns. Likewise, active duty military members who earn under $64,000 are also eligible.
If you don’t fit into any of those categories, you can still file your taxes with eSmart Tax for a relatively small fee. Other services charge $50 and up, but eSmart Tax’s tax preparation fee is just $19.95.
3. H&R Block
If your taxes are simple, you can use H&R Block’s program for free federal tax filing. However, if you also need to file a state return, you will need to pay $29.99.
The free version is robust and full of helpful features. Snap a picture of your W-2 form with your smartphone, upload it to H&R Block’s app, and the app will automatically enter all of the information for you. The company also includes a refund reveal, so you can see how your refund changes as you enter your information.
MyFreeTaxes is a free tax software offered by United Way Worldwide and H&R Block. It’s a secure way to file your taxes online and available to residents in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The best part? You can even complete your state returns without paying a dime.
Like other tax preparation programs, MyFreeTaxes walks you through each step of the process. Even first-time filers can complete their taxes accurately with the program’s help.
The service is available to users who have a household income under $64,000. If your income is over that threshold, you can still use the program, but might face fees.
If your taxes are straightforward — you use Forms 1040-EZ or 1040A, for example — you can use TaxAct to file both your federal and state returns for free, regardless of income.
For more involved tax situations such as itemizing deductions or including investment income, you’ll likely need to upgrade to the Plus tier, which is $37 for the federal return and $38 for the state return.
One nice perk? With TaxAct, you can check your return’s status and find out when to expect your tax refund.
TurboTax is a well-known program you can use to file federal and state returns. Unlike some other services, you can file even complex returns with TurboTax, even if your taxes include freelance or business income, estate income, and multistate returns.
The most popular version of TurboTax costs $54.99 for just the federal return; completing the state return is an additional fee. However, you might be able to use the powerful program for free in some situations.
If you have a simple return using Forms 1040-EZ or 1040-A, you can use TurboTax for free to file your federal return. However, state returns have an additional charge, regardless of your tax situation.
File taxes free of charge
Doing your taxes for the first time can be overwhelming, so opting for a tax preparation software can be a real boon. Rather than wasting hundreds on a tax preparation service, you can use one of these six programs to file taxes free of any fees and get the maximum refund you deserve.