Tax software publisher 1040.com provides a free version of their software in conjunction with the IRS's Free File Alliance.
Eligibility for Free Federal Return
Adjusted gross income of $100,000 or less
Cost to Prepare State Tax Return
Approximately one to three hours each for a federal and state tax return
3 out of 5 stars
1040.com goes beyond the IRS’s limit of $66,000 for free filing, allowing users with up to $100,00 in adjusted gross income to have a free filing option. The service also has two additional tiers priced at $19.95 and $39.95 with added costs for state filings.
Navigation and User Interface
The software begins with a questionnaire about types of income. Based on those answers, the software selects which data input screens to display during the preparation process. At the end of the questionnaire you also have the option to add your state return which can be automatically populated with the data from your federal return.
Once you are through the questionnaire you will get some navigation links on a sidebar. These links include quick access to: My Return, Name & Address, Federal Taxes, Income, Dependents, Deductions & Credits, Health Care, Other Tax Situations, Review, State Taxes, and File.
1040.com displays the federal and state refund meter on the top portion of the screen throughout the preparation process.
The software is completely automated and will walk you through every necessary step that may apply to you. It starts with the federal return which begins with income. After income, users will provide information on dependents, deductions & credits, health care, and other tax situations. The process for inputting your information follows the headlines on the sidebar. You can input information on your income as you receive it and save it to the system for later use. Simply input what you have and then sign out and come back later.
Once you have provided all of the necessary information you will have the chance to review a PDF copy of your federal return. From there you will move on to the state taxes. The state portion usually takes less time since information is retrieved from the federal filing. 1040.com does not have any restrictions by state so all states are free for users that meet the requirements.
Features and Caveats
- The income section provides for a multitude of options including: W-2, interest and dividends, investments, business, retirement, and other income. This is a wide range of choices for a free service.
- The review section can be somewhat tricky. The software displays links to important filing details and allows the user to revisit previous sections but the navigation is slightly difficult.
The service has hyperlinks throughout the step-by-step process which provides pertinent information for users on the displayed topic. Additionally, 1040.com has three ways to get help through the software service. Users can search the knowledge base, contact support through live chat, or contact through email.
Error Checking Features
The system will identify errors if any are flagged and provide the user with the ability to go directly to the item in question for revisions. The software also produces a preview of the federal and state tax forms via PDF download for the user to manually review the tax return.
Overall Experience of the Software
1040.com offers nearly all of the same services you would expect from competitors and is very efficient for a free tax preparation program. The service is reliable and user friendly. The system is familiar and follows industry standards so nearly anyone can be comfortable using it with or without previous self-preparation experience. The help functions are pretty decent offering live chat access but no phone discussions. We also like that 1040.com provides PDF files of federal and state tax forms before filing or paying anything.