6 Best Free Tax Software to File Your Next Return
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Is there anything more hated than taxes? And possibly even more than taxes, paying just to file your taxes.

There are plenty of options to file your federal return, but finding services that will file state taxes without paying extra can be tough.

If you’re tired of paying to file your taxes, you’ll love these six free options for filing your state and federal forms.

A Few Things to Remember

First, and most important of all, remember that you get what you pay for. Free tax software just isn’t going to be as good as paid software; there will be fewer features, you’ll get less support, and in most cases you won’t be able to file anything other than the simplest of returns. That’s just how it is.


Second, this list is current as of November 2015. Some companies change their offerings on a yearly basis, and if this list becomes outdated, we’ll try to make changes so that it’s current. But if you see a site that’s no longer offering free state returns, or has different requirements, that’s why.

Finally, remember that big-name companies like TurboTax and H&R Block have been doing this for decades, and that their years of experience means they’re really great at finding potential deductions and filing quickly. While using a lesser-known website doesn’t mean that you’ll miss out on things, if you want to make sure that everything about your return is perfect, you may want to go with a big name (which often means you’ll need to pay).

With that out of the way, let’s get onto the free tax software!



A newcomer to the field, DIY Tax offers totally free federal and state tax returns with no catch. There are a number forms that can be used (including the important part of 1099-MISC for contractors and freelancers), making this a more versatile option than many others out there.

A Premium option is available, though there’s no indication anywhere on the website of what’s included in Premium that’s not in the free account, making it difficult to say whether or not that might be useful. Even so, this is definitely one of the simplest, most straightforward, and totally free tax-filing options.

TurboTax Federal Free Edition


With one of the biggest names in tax preparation, you can be confident that TurboTax will give you the information and tools you need to get your returns filed quickly. And with the Federal Free Edition, you can file both your federal and state taxes electronically without paying a dime.

You’ll need to be doing a fairly simple return, using forms 1040EZ or 1040A. If you’re doing anything more complicated than that, like taxes for the self-employed QuickBooks Self-Employed Takes the Hassle Out of Accounting QuickBooks Self-Employed Takes the Hassle Out of Accounting QuickBooks Self-Employed is designed for simplicity; more specifically, tax-related matters. Read More , a paid service will be required.

Also, the TurboTax website does state that “Fees may apply” for the state return, but doesn’t say when these fees might apply or what they would be. On the other hand, you do get free email tax support, which could be very helpful if you’re a first-time filer or you have questions about your return.

H&R Block Basic


While the “Free” edition of H&R Block’s online tax filing system requires you to pay $30 for a state return, the Basic edition, which is also free, offers free state returns. Why the confusing naming conventions? I have no idea. But it’s not easy to find a site that will let you file both federal and state for free, and H&R Block has a great reputation for being a good company to file your taxes with, both from a usability and reliability standpoint.

Plus, you get free email and phone support Get Your IRS Tax Questions Answered at H&R Block For Free Get Your IRS Tax Questions Answered at H&R Block For Free Read More , so you can get an answer to your question right away with a single call.

TaxAct Free Edition


The free edition of TaxAct will work for you if you have a “simple return;” a quick look at the available forms shows the 1040A, 1040EZ, and a few other basics, though it is missing the 1099-MISC that many freelancers will need.

Despite this stipulation, TaxAct does offer free filing of both federal and state returns, though it does say “Pay when you file,” inviting speculation that there could be some hidden fees in certain cases.

Also included with the free edition is tax support via email, so you can get answers to any questions you have from the TaxAct support team. And TaxAct’s price lock guarantee means that once you register, the price won’t change.

OnLine Taxes


With a rather uninspiring name and a website that looks like it was created in the 90s 3 Archives That Will Bring You Back Into The Days Of GeoCities 3 Archives That Will Bring You Back Into The Days Of GeoCities Today, free web hosting is a thing of the past. Major search engines like the aforementioned Yahoo! and Google weren't such monsters yet, either. You could search for popular keywords and some of the first... Read More , you might pass over OnLine Taxes, but don’t discount it immediately: if your adjusted gross income is between $13,000 and $60,000, you’re eligible to file both your federal and state returns for free.

And if you don’t qualify, you only pay $7.95 for each, which is a pretty great deal. OLT also provides free email support every day of the week during tax season, and they let you file amended returns for free if you filed the first return with them. You can use a wide range of tax forms, including 1099-MISC and just about anything else you might need.



A program run by the United Way in conjunction with H&R Block, MyFreeTaxes will let you file both federal and state taxes for free if you make less than $62,000.

The site also helps you get organized by providing a tax preparation checklist as well as information on tax extensions, ITIN for immigrants, and credits/deductions. Because it’s a newcomer to the business, it doesn’t have as many reviews as other sites, but the fact that it’s powered by H&R Block should inspire confidence in the convenience and security of the service.

If You Don’t Quality for the Free Options

While a significant portion of people will be able to use one of the free websites above, there will certainly be some who can’t for one reason or another. For those people, here are a few other sites that you can check out. FreeTaxUSA offers free federal filing and $12.95 per state return, which is one of the lowest prices that you’ll find anywhere. eSmartTax  lets you file federal returns for free, and charges $22.95 per state, which is still pretty reasonable.

Don’t Pay for What You Can Get for Free

If you have a relatively simple tax return, you should be able to get both federal and state filing for free, and these six websites will help you do it. As long as you’ve kept up with your accounting Doing Your Taxes? 5 Excel Formulas You Must Know Doing Your Taxes? 5 Excel Formulas You Must Know It's two days before your taxes are due and you don't want to pay another late filing fee. This is the time to leverage the power of Excel to get everything in order. Read More throughout the year, it should be no problem at all. So don’t pay for what you can get free!

Which sites do you use to file your taxes? Did we miss any free or affordable sites in this list? Share your favorites below and help other taxpayers save some money next year!

Image Credit: Arina P Habich via Shutterstock.com

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  1. Dan B
    July 19, 2016 at 6:29 am

    It refreshing to see a blog that features some of the smaller players in the online tax preparation software providers. I prefer the smaller online tax providers, like taxwyse.com, because my tax situation is simply. I would say that the best online tax preparation software is the one that meets your needs. All of the ones mentioned are great choices and offer excellent customer support.

    • Dann Albright
      July 25, 2016 at 7:59 pm

      I see that you're commenting from a TaxWyse email address, so I assume you like TaxWyse because you work for them. :-) That being said, if you have simple needs, you're right; you can use the smaller providers, and you're less likely to get overwhelmed with features.

  2. Anonymous
    December 8, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    I am surprised that no one has as yet developed tax software that runs natively on Linux. While there may not be tens of millions of users as there are in Windows, there probably is at least a million. It is definitely a sizable untapped market.

    The best Linux tax software (in fact, the only one) I have been able to find, is Open Tax Solver which, at best, can only be called rudimentary. It basically is a script rather than any kind of a program. Open Tax Solver makes even the most basic tax software for Windows and Mac look very advanced.

    • Dann Albright
      December 11, 2015 at 9:54 pm

      Yeah, I'm kind of surprised at that, too. I suppose you could use the online options, but native software is usually more powerful. Maybe you should design one! :-)

      • Anonymous
        December 11, 2015 at 11:35 pm

        "Maybe you should design one! :-)"
        I would if I could. I have two strikes against me: 1) I am not a Linux programmer 2) All I know about taxes is what's in Publication 17.

  3. Anonymous
    December 3, 2015 at 1:01 am

    "First, and most important of all, remember that you get what you pay for."
    Following that logic you should have your taxes done by a professional (CPA or an accountant).

    Is this article about using online software to do your taxes or downloading the software to your PC and doing the taxes locally? I know TaxAct offers both options but the download is gently discouraged by making it hard to find.

    "The free edition of TaxAct will work for you if you have a “simple return;”"
    Again, are you talking about doing your taxes online or on your PC? It is possible that it is the online version that allows only "simple returns."

    I used TaxAct Free software for at least 10 years until 2014 when the software would no longer run on Win XP. I found it to be able to handle all my needs including Itemized Deductions, Supplemental Income and Loss, Depreciation and Amortization, Nondeductible IRAs, Educational Credits, etc.

    After going through the Q&A, TaxAct Free would present you with all the forms it determined you need to fill out. If you felt that you needed to fill out other forms, int the FORMS drop down menu there were 50 or 60 other forms listed (some quite esoteric) that you could include with your Federal return.

    I never used any software for State returns since, for the most part, it was just copying numbers from the Federal return and doing some simple calculations.

    • Dann Albright
      December 11, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      You do indeed get what you pay for, but not everyone needs to pay for a lot of features and expertise. If you make a modest amount, paying just a little bit for a few features is probably all you need; hiring a CPA would probably get you a slightly better return, but it's just not needed. If you make a lot of money or have a very complicated financial situation, that might be different.

      As for whether this is for online or downloadable, it's primarily focused on online options, but some of them do have downloadable free software as well. For the most part, online works just as well, though it may not have quite as many features.

      Thanks for the endorsement of TaxAct; sounds like a great option! (Unless you're running Win XP, of course).