The Best Free Tax Software

What Do You Really Get for Free?

We compared the top free tax software offerings to find out what each one really offers. All software listed make accuracy guarantees, and most offer a highest-tax-refund guarantee as well as the ability to create a state tax return, but usually at an additional cost. United States service members should look over the free tax software for military members.

Tip: Free tax software typically reserves the "free" offer only for new customers. If you used free tax software last year and you want to use the same software this year, you will probably have to pay to use it this time. ​Otherwise, you can simply choose another free tax software to use this year to avoid charges.

01
H&R Block At Home Free Edition

Woman doing taxes
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H&R Block At Home Free Edition covers many common tax deductions and only occasionally reminds you that you could update to a paid version. At Home Free Edition users can ask tax questions online and have them answered by tax professionals. This software has great support and, overall, offers a broad range of features. 

What You Get:

  • H&R Block Worry-free Audit Support (a tax professional will assist you if you are audited).
  • A step-by-step guide to completing your taxes.
  • Advice on common deductions such as those related to owning a home or charitable contributions along with advice on tax credits.

What You Don't:

  • Does not import last year's tax data, 1099, or W-2 forms.
  • No DeductionPro (software that helps taxpayers maximize tax benefits from charitable donations including household items, clothing, furniture, and household appliances).
  • No investment support other than dividends or capital gain distributions.

02
TaxACT Free Edition

Any income tax return can be filed with TaxACT Free Edition, a claim that can only be made by one other online tax preparation solution, IRS FreeFile Fillable Forms, which has nowhere near the same features. Even if you choose to pay to file your return, TaxAct makes a great budget tax option with a filing fee of $17.00.​

What You Get:

  • Supports more complex returns.
  • Software that can be used online or on your desktop with a free download.
  • Access to TaxACT Answer Center for answers to tax questions and help with using TaxACT.
  • For the college-bound: TaxACT's Federal Student Aid Tax Worksheet makes completing the FAFSA easier.

What You Don't:

  • No import option for W-2 income data, capital gains information, and last year's tax data.
  • No access to the TaxACT Donation Assistant that will value non-cash donations or help with life changes that may impact income taxes.
  • No free state return. $14.95 cost to add.

03
TurboTax Free Edition

TurboTax Online Free Edition has some decent tax help features. It has an easy-to-use interface and includes unlimited free help from a tax adviser. 

What You Get:

  • An Audit Support Center download.
  • A Life Events Expert tool that can identify life changes in the past year that may impact taxes.
  • Repeated reminders to upgrade to a paid version.

What You Don't:

  • If you need to file any form other than a 1040 EZ, you probably will not be able to use TurboTax Free Edition.
  • No import option for a W-2, other income data, or last year's TurboTax return.
  • No integration with the ItsDeductible Online toolbar  or support for other common tax deductions.

Visit TurboTax Online Free Edition

04
IRS Free File

The IRS Free File program offers access to over a dozen free online tax software providers or Free Tax File Fillable Forms. The second option, which has limited features, simply offers a way to fill in tax forms online and submit your return via free e-File. Free File Fillable Forms offer no guidance for completing your tax return, but the forms can perform some of the calculations.

What You Get:

  • Free federal electronic filing.
  • Free Fillable Forms.

What You Don't:

  • The free tax software with more features offered by IRS Free File has eligibility requirements such as a maximum adjusted gross income, and you may not qualify.
  • Free Fillable Forms is not available for state income tax returns, only federal returns.

05
eSmart Tax Basic Edition

eSmart Tax Basic may be the only free tax software that imports last year's tax return from competitors (TurboTax, H&R Block At Home, and TaxACT), so you have fewer opportunities to make errors.

What You Get:

  • The help of a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) if you are audited.
  • The ability to import data from W-2 and 1099 forms.

What You Don't:

  • No support for dependents.
  • You will have to pay for a higher version to get tax help.
  • No itemized deductions support; you can only file a 1040 EZ.
  • No free state return; fees start at $29.95.

06
TaxSlayer SimplyFree Edition

TaxSlayer paid versions are the least expensive tax software you can find. There's a fully featured free Military Edition for active duty military personnel, but we look at TaxSlayer SimplyFree Edition, which is only useful if you file a 1040EZ. Probably your best budget pick, this software lets you do your state return for free.

What You Get:

  • Step-by-step help with finding tax deductions (see below).
  • A Life Events Wizard identifies possible tax implications of life events that occurred during the year.
  • Free state return

What You Don't:

  • Support is limited, although adequate for simple returns.
  • Deduction support is useless since you can only file a 1040 EZ.

taxslayer.com/free.aspx