19 Free Tax Services Tested And Rated

Still looking for an affordable e-filing solution for your taxes? The finance blog FiLife “tested every one of the free tax filing services available through the IRS’ Free File program, then posted the results in a detailed, easy-to-read comparison chart.

The evaluation criteria were ease of use, the amount of tax information and assistance provided, the cost for filing a state return, and accuracy. FiLife ended up choosing eight services as their “top picks”—”[they] guided us through life events from the past year and helped us figure out which forms we needed to file. They asked us questions that we didn’t even know we needed to answer. Best of all, they used language that we understood. And we never had a technical snafu.”

Notably, all but two of the services charge for filing a state return, and the fees can range from $7.95 to $29.95. Below, we’ve bolded the only two services that offer free state returns if that’s something you need.

FiLife’s top eight picks:

  • CompleteTax
  • efiletaxreturns.net
  • eSmartTax by Liberty Tax Service
  • ezTaxReturn
  • Free TaxACT
  • H&R Block
  • TaxSlayer Free Returns.com
  • Turbo Tax

Just as important, here are the ones FiLife categorizes as “Avoid if You Can”: “These software programs caused us frustration and pain due to technology issues, confusing tax forms, and late admissions that our tax forms could not be supported.”

  • 1040NOW.NET
  • 123Easytaxfiling
  • average1040.com
  • FileYourTaxes.com
  • Free Tax Return
  • Free1040 Tax Return
  • Tax$imple Deluxe Version

Not every person can qualify for every service, so if you decide to check one of these out, we suggest you go to the IRS’ Free File page, find out which services you qualify for, then cross-reference them against the FiLife chart to pick the one you like best.

FiLife has another helpful bit of advice if you really want to save money:

If the software of your choice doesn’t provide your state’s tax forms or charges a lot for it, you can still use its service as a sort of trial run. For instance, we like H&R Block’s site a lot. But its $29.95 fee for filing a state-tax return is absurd.

So here’s the workaround: Use H&R Block’s software to get familiar with the terms and figures you’ll need to input and the forms you’ll need to use. But don’t use Block to file either your state or federal return. Instead, once you’ve used its software as a worksheet, in effect, use a site that offers a better deal to actually file your returns. Take it from someone who prepared her taxes six times this year: It gets easier and faster the more you do it.

Note: To qualify for Free File, your adjusted gross income for 2007 must be $54,000 or less, and you must access your selected service via the Free File website.

“Free File: Winnowing Out the Best Free Sites for Filing Your Tax Returns” [FiLife]

Free File [IRS]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Moosehawk says:


  2. MoCo says:

    State Farm insurance customers get free online TurboTax with free federal and state filing at http://www.statefarm.com. Log on with your State Farm userid and password, then select “Free Tax Filing” on the left side of the screen.

  3. pbc says:

    I actually used taxslayer and had a really good experience with them. I was able to file both federal and state taxes for free.

    I am a state fram customer and spent a few hours with TurboTax…. but unfortunately their site is completely messed up and cannot file a Wisconsin state return because it is missing significant portions of some of the schedules. For example, in Wisconsin you can get a homestead credit if you are a renter… and mine was over $900, but if I had filed with TurboTax, I either would not have gotten it, or it would have been late because of missing information. I even contacted support. First I tried by phone, but gave up after a 10 minute wait. My email was answered by a form letter with lots of misspellings about 3 days later… without answering my question and basically telling me that their product would likely be fixed next year sometime.

    Instead, I used taxslayer… it took much less time to enter my information and when I did have a question, my email was answered in less than a day. It only took a week to get my refund from Wisconsin once I submitted my return and electronically sent my attachments. :)

  4. bdsakx says:

    I vouch for TurboTax quite a bit — it’s been painless for me and my mother so far. Based on this info I’ll give one of the others a try next year… like the “Tax Slayer”, now that sounds interesting.

  5. NotATool says:

    I’ve used TaxAct in the past which allows you to file Federal returns for free. I don’t think they have an AGI limit, but they do charge you for “premium” service which gives extra tax advice and does joint vs. separate analysis.

    State returns cost extra, which is odd because some states (including Illinois) offer free electronic filing on their web site. I suppose they save you the hassle of re-entering your W2’s but I just can’t justify paying the extra fee for that.

  6. char says:

    I’ve had good experiences with Tax act.

  7. STrRedWolf says:

    Taxcat charges fee…

    …fer cheezburgers.

  8. adiospantalones says:

    I’ve used Taxslayer for 3 years now. I really like it. It stores my information from previous years, so doing my taxes this year seriously took 15 minutes from start to finish.

  9. CPC24 says:

    TurboTax FTW. Even my 60 year old dad used it and loved it.

  10. LiC says:

    I used Tax Slayer – back in January, thbbbbt. It was easy to use, I like it a lot.

  11. llryuujinll says:

    Turbo tax only offer free state on only a few selected states not on all.

  12. Sian says:

    TurboTax free through state farm worked quite well for my California return.

  13. fuzzycuffs says:

    I’ve been using TaxAct for a few years. State isn’t free, but I live in WA so there is no state income tax anyways.

  14. stubblyhead says:

    I’m confused. I’ve heard good things about TaxSlayer, but I was under the impression that it was only for active duty military. Their website implies this as well. Also, it says that preparation is free, but actually filing costs you $9.95 for their basic product. Am I missing something here?

  15. Wayfaerer says:

    I’ve filed for free using FreeTaxUSA.com for the last few years and have never had a problem. They charge 10 dollars for filing state returns, but I file those for free on Indiana’s website.

  16. rmz says:

    Never had a problem with TurboTax’s web version.

  17. withoutnations says:

    anyone else getting a 404 error after submitting the form for “Guide Me To A Company” on IRS.gov > Free File?

    perhaps this is one reason Free File is privately developed…?

  18. hoosierdaddy812 says:

    @stubblyhead, it says $9.95 on the home page, but if you go through the IRS webpage, you can file for free if you meet the specific requirements. I believe you need to be under 25 and make less then 50K or something along those lines. When first filling on TaxSlayer I clicked through the $9.95 link on their page but found the free link through the IRS before submitting.