OnLine Taxes (OLT) Free File Edition

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OnLine Taxes (OLT) Free File Edition

OnLine Taxes ( offers Web-based software to prepare a federal tax return for free through the IRS's Free File Alliance.

Eligibility for free federal return: Individuals who have adjusted gross income between $13,000 and $58,000. The IRS Free File Web page states is available for taxpayers in all states, while's Web site states residents of Texas and Florida are not eligible for its Free File service.

Cost to prepare state tax return: free.

Time: just over two hours to prepare a sample federal and state tax return.

Notable Features: free extensions and amended returns

Rating: 2.5

Navigation and User Interface:

The software's interface consists of a series of data input worksheets. Major sections are introduced by a checklist providing links to specific data input worksheets.

Users can jump to different sections of OnLine Taxes using the top-level navigation tabs for federal, state, and file my return. The second-level navigation displays tabs for primary information, income, adjustments, deductions, taxes, credits, other taxes, payments, miscellaneous, and tax summary. Next to the refund meter in the upper right-hand corner is an icon that enables a person to view the tax forms.

Help Features:

OnLine Taxes displays a Glossary sidebar on the right-hand side of the browser, which links to brief articles on a particular topic. The glossary topics change depending on what data entry screen a person is using.

There is no additional help available from inside the OnLine Taxes program itself.  However, from the home page, users can access a knowledge base, customer service FAQs, and help with federal error codes. OnLine Taxes provides customer service through e-mail and live chat. 

Overall Experience of the Software:

One of our testers encountered problems trying to navigate forward in the program after entering a W-2 form and Form 1098-T for college tuition expenses, however, another tester did not encounter the same problems. OnLine Taxes does not list all deductions in a summary checklist with their dollar amounts, even though the software does display dollar amounts next to its summary of income and tax credits. OnLine Taxes provides the tax forms in PDF format to review prior to filing.

While OnLine Taxes is a functional tax preparation program, the biggest drawback is the lack of more contextual help to explain particular tax topics.

To check out the software for yourself, visit OnLine Taxes Free File Edition.