The creation of tax filing online is a genius idea. It allows people to file their taxes from the comfort of their own home.
Plus, many online tax filing programs are affordable and even free! However, not all programs are right for all tax situations.
And some are easier to use than others. Which one will you choose?
At A Glance: Our Top Picks
|Company||Federal Free*||Cost for Additional State|
|TurboTax||Yes||$40 per state|
|TaxAct||Yes||Free to $44.95 per state|
|H&R Block||Yes||$36.99 per state|
Table of Contents
Cheap Options to File Taxes Online
You’ll want to know which tax preparation websites are the best – and cheapest. As a consumer, you have several options to choose how you want to file your taxes online.
We’ll outline some of the most popular choices here. Most of these have a free option, so be sure to read the details below.
* Some additional fees may apply, see individual websites for details.
TurboTax has been offering cheap and free tax return filing for over 40 years. It offers various levels of services to match the complexity of different tax situations.
TurboTax’s free edition doesn’t come with fees for federal or state returns. The free service is best for relatively simple tax situations. For example, you cannot own a home, take itemized deductions, or own a business to access this free version.
The free option could work for you if you have a clean-cut tax situation, W-2 income, no itemized deductions and no other odd inclusions. But the good news is you won’t run into income limits with this free option.
If you have a slightly more complicated tax situation, the Deluxe edition is a popular choice. This option allows you to itemize deductions. You can add charitable deductions, mortgage interest deductions and more.
The Premier edition is another step-up. If you earn rental income, use cryptocurrency, or sell stocks, you’ll need the Premier capabilities. TurboTax Premier will help you calculate capital gains, losses, etc.–even on cryptocurrencies.
The Home & Business package is a good fit for households with self-employed income, rental properties, and retirement savings.
Finally, TurboTax offers a full service option which gives you access to a dedicated tax expert. The expert will work on your tax filing from start to finish. The dedicated support makes this the most expensive option.
Related Post: TurboTax Review
TaxAct has been in business since 1998. They provide serious competition with TurboTax when it comes to filing your taxes online.
Like TurboTax, TaxAct offers a free option. The service will file your federal tax return for free. But you’ll have to pay for state returns. This edition is limited to 1040 form filers. Remember that 1040 filers can take limited deductions. It all depends on the form they use.
The next step up is the Deluxe Edition. If you have itemized deductions, this version can work for you. You’ll want to use it if you have charitable deductions, mortgage interest deductions or a health savings account. You will also need to use this edition if you need to report unemployment income.
The TaxAct Premier Edition offers more filing options, which makes it a good choice for those with rental properties or investment income. Also, it’s for those who want prioritized support from the help team.
For self-employed individuals, like freelancers and business owners, this is the most robust option offered. This TaxAct version is specifically designed for the self-employed, to help you maximize deductions and still save money on tax filing.
TaxAct’s $100k Accuracy Guarantee promises to get you the maximum refund. If you don’t get your maximum refund, TaxAct will refund your filing costs, pay out the difference in your tax liability, and cover legal or audit costs of up to $100,000.
For more information, check out our complete review of TaxAct.
FreeTaxUSA has been processing online tax returns since 2001. They have four different programs. Each offers free filing for federal taxes. This includes Basic, Advanced, Premium, and Self-Employed.
The Basic edition is meant for the most basic of tax returns and includes child tax credit and can be used for students as well. The Advanced edition is helpful for those who want to deduct homeowner interest and earned income credits.
The Premier edition is meant for those with common deductions such as rental income, homeowner interest, earned income credit, and HSA deductions. The Self-Employed edition can accommodate freelancers, small business owners, contractors and more.
With any edition, the Deluxe Edition is an add-on. If you choose the Deluxe Edition add-on with FreeTaxUSA, you pay just $7.99 and get some important upgrades, such as live chat with priority support and unlimited amended returns.
If you’re looking for free and easy, you might like FreeTaxUSA for filing your taxes. For more information on FreeTaxUSA, check out our complete review of FreeTaxUSA.
4. H&R Block
H&R Block is by far the tax preparation company with the most experience. They opened their doors over 60 years ago. This company has four different ways you can file your taxes online. By using one of them, you may be able to save money when filing your taxes.
The first option is the free version. The H&R Block Free Online plan costs $0 for federal filing and $0 for state filing. Their website says it’s best for new filers, simple filers and homeowners.
Unlike most free tax software, you can deduct mortgage interest with H&R Block. Besides, you can deduct donations, student loan interest and childcare expenses too. This difference is nice from some of the other free products we’re discussing.
H&R Block Deluxe Online is the next level up. It allows you to include deductions tied to homeownership, HSA contributions, and charitable contributions with this version. This low-price plan also lets you report freelancer income with basic deductions. For instance, maybe you make money with a delivery app side hustle.
For freelancers, the H&R Block Premium Online edition might be best. It’s also great for independent contractors, investors and rental property owners. The H&R Block website says that this program is best for those with under $5,000 in expenses.
Also, H&R Block has what it calls Online Assist versions of all of its programs. Online Assist gives you on-demand help from a tax expert, enrolled agent, or CPA. It’s an extra cost. But it might be worth it for many.
Related Post: H&R Block Online Review
5. Cash App Taxes
You might be surprised to see this addition to our online tax filing choices. Cash App has long been known as a peer-to-peer payment platform. But it also offers free tax filing.
Cash App Taxes helps you file your federal and state taxes for free without a maximum income limit. For instance, you can file self-employment or itemized tax returns for free. However, this platform doesn’t support part-year state tax returns or multiple state returns.
And if you have your refund deposited into your Cash App account, you can get the money up to five days faster.
You need to download the Cash App app in order to be able to file your taxes with Cash App taxes. However, the Cash App app is free to download.
E-file.com used to do 1040EZ filing for free. Now that the EZ form doesn’t exist, they’ve stepped up their game and added other options to the mix.
E-file.com doesn’t have as many added features and benefits of the other programs mentioned here. However, it does have one bonus: it’s cheaper in some cases. You will find three levels: Free Basic, Deluxe, and Premium.
Efile.com’s Free Basic program is available if you have a W-2 income of less than $100,000 per year and no itemized deductions. Also, E-file.com has online customer service support to answer your questions. So this may save you from needing to call the IRS or seeing a tax pro.
E-File’s Deluxe program can help if you need to deduct mortgage interest, report retirement income, or file with dependents. But the income cap is $100,000. Another extra perk is phone customer support.
E-File’s Premium version is an upgrade that supports all income levels, tax credits and deductions. Plus, you can also use it for business and personal income. So if you plan to itemize your deductions, this is the plan you will need.
TaxSlayer has been around since 1965.
It offers four different programs. Starting with TaxSlayer’s Simply Free program, which costs $0 for both federal and state returns. The free version includes live phone support and free email support. But so do the other TaxSlayer programs.
The TaxSlayer Classic program works with all major IRS forms, including self-employment income. Selling investments and reporting rental property income qualify for this plan too. However, you will need to choose a pricier plan to get hands-on support.
If you want extra help, TaxSlayer’s Premium version offers IRS audit assistance for three years, Ask a Tax Pro assistance, and live chat technical support. This version sounds suitable for those with itemized deductions. So consider Premium if you have mortgage interest or if you have charitable deductions, etc.
TaxSlayer’s Self-Employed edition is the most comprehensive option. This edition is best for freelancers and independent contractors. And it’ll work for rental property owners too.
Related Post: TaxSlayer Review: A Way to Get Your Tax Refund Quickly
8. eSmart Tax
Another online tax prep company you may not know about is eSmart Tax. However, you might be familiar with their parent company–Liberty Tax.
Note that eSmart no longer offers a free file option for basic filers. Instead, eSmart Tax users can choose from these three options.
The eSmart Tax Basic program is best for a simple tax situation without dependants, a standard deduction, W2 wages, unemployment income, and taxable interest of less than $1,500.
eSmart Tax’s Deluxe version is best suited for investors and families. It’s helpful for certain tax events such as dependent children, investment income, retirement income, itemized deductions, child care and education tax breaks, and more.
The eSmart Premium version is for those who are self-employed. It has all of the features of the Deluxe version plus you can include income from real estate rentals. Other covered tax situations include asset depreciation, HSA deductions, and taxable income over $100,000.
Also, eSmart Tax offers similar guarantees as larger tax prep websites. They promise you’ll get the maximum refund and have an accurate tax return.
9. Jackson Hewitt
Founded back in 1982, Jackson Hewitt is the second largest tax preparer in the U.S. Jackson Hewitt has both DIY online tax filing programs and assisted online tax filing programs.
If you want to file online taxes by yourself with Jackson Hewitt, you’ll pay just $25. That $25 fee covers both your federal and state returns. This flat fee covers any type of return you want to file, including schedules for 1099-MISC income and more.
If you want to file taxes with a tax pro, you can use Jackson Hewitt’s Online with a Tax Pro program. you’ll pay $99 for filing your federal return, and your state return is included.
You get the same support and expertise as if you’d filed in person. And your return has a lifetime accuracy guarantee.
As you can see, Jackson Hewitt has very attractive prices compared to some of the other online filing companies mentioned here.
The company’s one downside is that it doesn’t have a free option. However, that may be precisely why the company can offer low prices for all types of tax filers.
10. Liberty Tax
Liberty Tax has been in the tax filing business for over 20 years. With Liberty Tax, you can choose to file online on your own or with the help of a tax professional.
When you file online on your own, you can choose from three programs: Basic, Deluxe, and Premium. Liberty Tax’s Basic program supports forms 1040 and 8853, along with schedules A and B.
Liberty Tax’s Deluxe program supports forms 1040, 4562, 8829, 8853, 4136 and 8839. You can use schedules A, B and C with this program. Liberty Tax’s Premium program give you more filing options to include forms 4835 and 4684, on top of what’s covered by the Deluxe program.
Liberty Tax also has the option to file online with a Tax Pro. Those prices aren’t listed on the Liberty Tax website.
Note that Liberty Tax has a 100% satisfaction guarantee for all of their programs. You can also visit a Liberty Tax professional in person to file your taxes. See the Liberty Tax website for available locations.
Can I File Online Directly Through the IRS?
You might be wondering if you can file taxes online directly through the IRS. Yes, you can.
The IRS has a filing tool they call Free File. This tool allows you to file your federal tax return directly with the IRS.
However, they only have two versions available. One is for those who have income of $72,000 or less for the year.
The other is for those who earn income above $72,000 per year.
If your income is below $72,000, you may qualify to file your state return for free. You can also get advanced calculations and hands-on guidance.
Free File Has More Than One Downfall
This could be a good tax filing option for some. Although, I see a couple of drawbacks with the IRS’s Free File program.
To me, the first problem is a big one. It doesn’t offer technical support.
If you need help filing your taxes, you may need to switch to a better platform. As a result, you lose the time using IRS Free File.
Do you have a super easy return or know a lot about the tax laws? If so, the Free File program could be right for you.
However, it’s going to require some serious work on your part. You’ll need to learn what information to include on your return.
There’s another hurdle with using Free File through the IRS. They don’t support your state return if you use the “above $72,000” version.
This means you’ll be starting from scratch as you file your state return if you earn too much.
However, using one of the paid-for versions above eliminates that issue. You’ll get the ability to transfer your information to the state form.
Choosing good tax software will save you loads of time. And time is money, as the saying goes.
If You Like Learning Tax Laws
Some people would prefer to learn all there is to learn about filing their taxes. This life skill allows them to file their taxes for free every year.
Do you find learning that type of content interesting? Are you okay with educating yourself on tax law changes every year? If so, it could be beneficial to learn how to do your return.
Yet, if you’re like me, you’ll find that type of information mundane. In that case, you may be better off leaving your tax returns to the experts.
Use a service like the ones mentioned above. Or find a local provider to make your life easier or hire an online tax pro to help prepare your return.
Decide What’s Important To You
Only you can choose whether to use a free program offered by the IRS. Or if you’ll want to use a free version provided by a tax company.
However, if you’re not able to file for free, you’ll have to decide what’s important to you. Is it worth paying for the ease and convenience that the tax pros have to offer?
As for me, I’ll pay for convenience every time. Tax pros save me hours of work about a subject I don’t know much about.
Filing my taxes is one task I’ll leave to the experts. Yes, I have to pay for the service.
But it’s worth the money to me. I don’t have to learn about tax law changes each year.
I also have more peace of mind that my tax return is accurate and doesn’t overlook any tax deduction or credit.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the options covered above:
|TurboTax||Yes||$0 to $359|
|TaxAct||Yes||$0 to $109.90|
|FreeTaxUSA||Yes||$0 to $14.99|
|H&R Block||Yes||$0 to $110|
|Cash App Taxes||Yes||$0|
|E-file.com||Yes||$0 to $49.99|
|TaxSlayer||Yes||$0 to $89.90|
|eSmart Tax||Yes||$54.95 to $99.95|
|Jackson Hewitt||No||$25 to $99+|
|Liberty Tax||No||$49.99 to $95.95|
We’ve shared lots of information on the various online tax prep companies for you to file your taxes online.
As you can see, there are many cheap – and free – ways to file your taxes online.