Best Free Tax Software
- TaxAct's free edition provides some great features.
- More than 30 IRS tax forms are supported in the free version of TaxAct.
- TaxAct keeps your sensitive data safe using encryption and login authentication.
- This review is for individuals who want to learn about TaxAct and why it's our pick for the best free tax software.
TaxAct is our pick for the best free tax software because it offers features that are not typically included in free online tax solutions, such as unlimited support and access to up to seven years of previous returns. In addition, TaxAct has an intuitive interface that makes it easy to file taxes.
We chose TaxAct from a range of online tax software options. To understand how we chose TaxAct, you can find our methodology and a list of online tax software vendors on our best picks page.
The price for filing federal taxes using TaxAct's free plan is as advertised: free. With this service tier, you can import past tax returns, file your W-2 income, claim dependents and seek multiple credits, like the earned income and child tax credits. You can also file your retirement income and federal income tax reports for current students for free. In addition, the free tier comes with unlimited account support.
While TaxAct is our best pick for its free service, there are also three higher tiers that cost money, and you may need to upgrade to one of those tiers if your tax situation is too complex for the free version.
Filers who have college expenses, are homeowners or have other complex needs can look at the company's Deluxe option. For $24.95, this plan includes everything in the free version, as well as things such as health savings account assistance, itemized deductions and phone support from a tax specialist.
The next step up, Premier, costs $34.95 and offers more focused tax filing capabilities, such as tax income reports from stocks, gains and losses, rental property income and foreign bank and financial account filing.
Finally, the Self-Employed tier, which costs $64.95, has all the features of every other tier, plus support for freelance or business income, deductions, depreciation and year-round tax planning resources.
State tax filing costs more for the three top tiers, at an additional $39.95 per state for the Deluxe and Premier tiers and $49.95 per state for the Self-Employed tier. Though we're looking at TaxAct for its free service, it should be noted that the higher tiers are pricey, especially when you add state tax filing costs.
Key takeaway: TaxAct's free service tier comes with a strong list of features and supported IRS tax forms, though you will have to pay extra for state taxes. And while TaxAct's premium offerings are good, they are pricey.
While the free version of TaxAct doesn't come with all the extra features offered in the premium versions, you still get the key functionality you need to file a simple tax return. Here are some of the features that are included in the free version:
You don't have to waste paper or wait for the postal service to deliver a physical copy of your return. Once your returns are completed, TaxAct can send the forms directly to the IRS, and then you can keep tabs on your e-file status.
As you fill out your tax information, the software updates the calculation of your refund or the amount you owe in real time.
TaxAct gives its users one year of access to previous tax returns and six years of access to PDF copies of any past returns. Not only is this good to have for your personal records, but it's also a great resource in the event you're audited by the IRS, since you'll have several years of information to back up your claims.
TaxAct provides customer and technical support at all levels. With free online help materials available on the website and live help from the company's support staff, TaxAct provides users with the solutions they need. These resources walk users through frequently asked questions, and when a major problem comes up with the software, technical support is available, even for free filers.
TaxAct includes access to a free mobile application for iOS and Android. However, its functionality is limited compared with the desktop version of the software.
Key takeaway: The free version of TaxAct includes many features other companies charge for, including e-filing, real-time estimates, access to past returns, technical support and a mobile app.
TaxAct's free edition is almost aggressively free. At every turn, the company doggedly explains how its service is free. In previous years, the free version was available only to people filing a 1040 with no dependents. However, last year's offering was the first to cover 24 different forms, making TaxAct's free e-filing option an excellent choice at the time. At this year's count, the free version now supports 32 forms, highlighting that TaxAct is improving its free offering.
Although TaxAct's free online software is not as automated or user-friendly as its pricier competitors, the company offers step-by-step guidance and free support. If you filed your taxes through a different program, like TurboTax or H&R Block, TaxAct gives you the option to import PDFs of 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ filings, making it easy to switch.
We chose TaxAct because, even though the free version doesn't have all of the nicer features of high-end offerings, it provides a professional platform that's easy to use, accurate and, importantly, free.
Key takeaway: In recent years, TaxAct's free version has expanded from allowing only 1040 filing to including more than 30 other IRS tax forms, making it one of the most expansive free online tax solutions available.
All free online tax software has some limitations. Although we found TaxAct's free version to be better than most, it doesn't have the high-end features that you'll find in the best paid tax software, and it may not have some of the forms you need if your tax situation is more complex. If you need to file certain forms with the IRS and TaxAct's free version doesn't support those forms, you'll have to look elsewhere or upgrade to a paid plan.
Additionally, if you want to file your state taxes for free, you'll need to file them directly with your state's taxation division, since TaxAct charges $39.95 or $49.95 per state, depending on your plan.
Key takeaway: As with most free tax software, TaxAct's free version has some limitations and, as such, may not be appropriate for complex tax situations.
Ready to choose your online tax software? Here's a breakdown of the rest of our coverage: