Money Advice

FreeTaxUSA Review 2021 – Free Tax Filing & Online Return Preparation

Nearly each on-line tax preparation software program advertises a free federal plan that permits customers to put together their federal tax returns for gratis. But as legions of annoyed filers can attest, some applications’ supposedly free plans include extreme limitations (similar to unsupported types and schedules) that drive customers with extra advanced tax conditions to improve to a paid plan.

FreeTaxUSA, which made our record of the high free on-line tax preparation companies for exactly this purpose, shouldn’t be a type of applications. Its Free Edition helps the overwhelming majority of IRS types and schedules, making it usable for filers with tax conditions of any complexity.

That contains the self-employed, small-business house owners, landlords, and traders who should report capital features or losses. There’s no price to arrange your federal return with the Free Edition, and state tax returns price simply $12.95 to $14.99 every, relying on once you file.


FreeTaxUSA’s increased-priced Deluxe Edition, typically generally known as the Deluxe Version, is a discount as nicely: $6.99 to arrange your federal return and $12.95 to $14.99 per state, relying in your submitting date, with some extra options thrown in to sweeten the deal.

Plans, Pricing & Features for FreeTaxUSA Tax Software

With such low plan costs, FreeTaxUSA is price contemplating in the event you’re submitting your taxes on a price range this year. Here’s what to anticipate once you put together and e-file your revenue tax returns with FreeTaxUSA.

Interface and Flexibility

FreeTaxUSA has a reasonably versatile interface. You have to fill out all of your personal data earlier than you possibly can proceed to the revenue and credit and deductions sections. But as soon as within the revenue part, you possibly can work on any matters you see match, at any time.

In the precise return sections, FreeTaxUSA shows all relevant matters and may select to work on whichever ones apply to you, skipping over any that don’t. Within every subject, you possibly can select to observe an interview-style question-and-answer course of, or enter knowledge into fields, as you’d in the event you had been filling out your tax return by hand.

Even in the event you haven’t completed all of the relevant matters within the revenue part, you possibly can skip forward to deductions and credit, then return to finish your revenue later.

Accuracy Checker

Throughout your whole return, FreeTaxUSA places a responsive, actual-time accuracy checker to work.

If at any level you make a choice or enter data that doesn’t appear proper to this system – for instance, in the event you state that you simply’re a house owner with a mortgage however select to not itemize your deductions – FreeTaxUSA instantly alerts you that you would be leaving money on the desk.

The program helps you keep heading in the right direction earlier than you get too far into the weeds.

Customer Support and Add-ons

FreeTaxUSA isn’t probably the most novice-pleasant tax submitting program on the market. Notably, it doesn’t have a complete data base or sturdy buyer help infrastructure.

In reality, its assist part isn’t person-pleasant in any respect – its search function doesn’t appear to acknowledge synonyms or pure language queries, forcing you to flick through a slew of matters to search out what you’re searching for.

FreeTaxUSA additionally fees further for companies that different free applications embody without spending a dime, similar to audit help, amended tax returns, and precedence buyer help. Then once more, the $6.99 Deluxe price ticket is fairly manageable.

Importing Capabilities

FreeTaxUSA means that you can import a prior-year return ready with TurboTax, H&R Block, or TaxAct. All you want to do beforehand is convert the return to PDF format in the event you haven’t already. Returning FreeTaxUSA filers can import prior-year returns as nicely.

Unfortunately, that’s about the place FreeTaxUSA’s importing capabilities finish. You can’t mechanically pull in knowledge from a W-2, W-9, or brokerage assertion.

If you have got a brokerage assertion with a number of stock or ETF transactions (which must be reported individually in your return), the shortcoming to import might considerably lengthen your complete submitting time.

If your tax state of affairs is easier, you may not discover the shortage of importing options in any respect.

Accuracy and Maximum Refund Guarantee

Like most competing tax prep applications, FreeTaxUSA has an accuracy assure that reimburses filers with out restrict for any IRS tax liabilities or penalties incurred as a consequence of errors, omissions, or inaccuracies attributable to the platform’s software. However, state tax liabilities or penalties aren’t coated by this assure.

FreeTaxUSA additionally has a most refund assure for each editions. If you get an even bigger refund or decrease tax legal responsibility once you put together an equivalent return with a competitor, you’re entitled to a refund of your prep charges.

1. Free Edition

By utilizing this plan, you pay nothing for making ready and e-submitting your federal return, and $12.95 to $14.99 for every state submitting. Since it contains the overwhelming majority of IRS types and schedules, it’s best for tax conditions of just about any complexity.

That stated, as a result of the Free Edition lacks precedence buyer help and audit help, it’s not an excellent possibility for novice filers and people who fear concerning the potential of an IRS or state audit.

FreeTaxUSA’s Free Edition contains:

  • All Supported IRS and State Forms. Free Edition customers take pleasure in entry to all of the IRS and state types supported by FreeTaxUSA, together with Schedules A, B, C, D, E, and Okay. These types cover a variety of conditions, from small business and freelance revenue to capital features from the sale of a house or different priceless asset.
  • Previous-Year Return Importing and Data Transfer. If you’re a returning FreeTaxUSA buyer, this system mechanically populates your current-year return with demographic, revenue, and personal data out of your earlier return. You may import from a handful of different on-line tax prep applications, together with TaxAct, TurboTax, and H&R Block.
  • Customer Support. All FreeTaxUSA customers can contact the company by way of its e-mail tackle ([email protected]) or by opening an onsite help ticket. You entry these resources by way of the best sidebar of your return-prep interface, or by way of the “Customer Support” button on the homepage tab. Support inquiries usually produce a response inside 24 hours, even on weekends, and typically a lot sooner. It is vital to notice that FreeTaxUSA doesn’t have a buyer help cellphone quantity. All assistance is supplied by e-mail or direct messaging.
  • Storage for Completed Returns. FreeTaxUSA shops accomplished returns in PDF format at no cost. Your whole return historical past is accessible – there’s no restrict on how lengthy FreeTaxUSA shops returns or what number of of a specific person’s returns it may well deal with. If you favor to not depend on FreeTaxUSA’s cloud storage, you possibly can obtain or print accomplished returns your self.

2. Deluxe Edition

With FreeTaxUSA’s Deluxe Edition, it prices $6.99 to file your federal return and $12.95 for every state return. Its predominant benefit is a suite of included no-price help options (similar to audit help and free precedence customer support) that aren’t accessible with the Free Edition.

Thanks to those options, the Deluxe Edition is an efficient selection for filers who want extra help and peace of thoughts with out paying an entire lot further for it.

FreeTaxUSA’s Deluxe Edition contains all of the options accessible within the Free Edition, plus:

  • Free Priority Support. FreeTaxUSA used to cost Free Edition customers for precedence help – in different phrases, to get their queries pushed to the entrance of the road as quickly as they emailed or opened an internet help ticket. That is not the case. Instead, Free Edition customers don’t have the choice to get precedence help. If you need FreeTaxUSA to answer your questions forward of others, you want to improve to Deluxe.
  • Live Chat. FreeTaxUSA gives reside chat help to Deluxe customers solely. You can attain a reside particular person to deal with your queries Monday by way of Saturday throughout prolonged business hours. This function isn’t accessible on Sunday or overnights.
  • Free, Unlimited Amended Returns. With Deluxe, you possibly can amend and re-file as many earlier returns as you want without spending a dime.
  • Audit Assist. This free function is barely accessible with Deluxe. It gives entry to on-workers audit specialists who present full, nicely-researched solutions to questions on IRS correspondence and the audit course of. Audit specialists personally evaluation particular items of correspondence, making certain arms-on, case-by-case help.

Additional Features

In addition to the options related to every of its tax prep plans, FreeTaxUSA’s different options embody:

DIY Help Topics

FreeTaxUSA has a wealth of assist matters for filers and potential filers.

Customers who’ve already begun a return can entry these resources from the best sidebar of the return-prep interface, whereas web site guests who haven’t but begun a return can click on the “Customer Support” button on the homepage’s higher tab and browse or seek for assist matters.

However, there’s no person-generated data base right here, a la TurboTax. All assist matters are created and answered by FreeTaxUSA’s workers.

Refund Maximizer

FreeTaxUSA has a useful “refund maximizer” wizard that you should use to double-test your work on a return filed with one other tax prep program.

The wizard is an abbreviated FreeTaxUSA return – you enter the pertinent data out of your current return within the fields supplied. Unfortunately, there’s no choice to add an current return, so utilizing the wizard can take a while.

Upon completion, you’re proven the refund (or tax legal responsibility) you’d have gotten had you filed with FreeTaxUSA. If it’s larger or lower than the opposite program’s, you possibly can file an amended prior-year return with both version of FreeTaxUSA.

Real-Time Refund/Liability Display

The proper sidebar of your FreeTaxUSA return-prep interface features a useful actual-time show of the greenback quantity of your anticipated refund or tax legal responsibility.

This show updates mechanically with every new piece of data you enter, permitting you to maintain shut monitor of your standing and make connections between explicit actions and the scale of your refund or legal responsibility.

Prior-Year Return Filing

If you want to put together and file prior-year tax returns for any purpose, you should use year-specific FreeTaxUSA software to take action. You can file previous federal returns at no cost going again seven tax years, and state returns again seven years for $14.99 per state (topic to vary).

Pay With Your Refund

If you’ve incurred a payment to file with FreeTaxUSA, you possibly can pay it along with your tax refund, supplied you’re eligible. Eligibility necessities are as follows:

  • Your refund is bigger than your complete FreeTaxUSA payment, plus the $19.99 fee processing payment
  • You’re receiving your refund by way of direct deposit
  • You have a U.S. tackle
  • You haven’t but filed your tax return

Some different eligibility necessities might apply.

Bear in thoughts that whereas the payment to pay along with your refund is normally $19.99, it’s topic to vary and could also be waived at FreeTaxUSA’s discretion. If you don’t wish to incur this cost, you possibly can pay with a debit card, checking account, or bank card.

Advantages

Here’s why you may wish to file taxes with FreeTaxUSA.

1. Extremely Affordable Pricing

FreeTaxUSA’s costliest federal tax prep possibility (Deluxe) prices simply $6.99. Current-year state returns all the time price $12.95 to $14.99 every, relying on once you file. Prior-year state returns are all the time $14.99 every, although that’s topic to vary.

And because the overwhelming majority of IRS types and schedules are supported by the Free Edition, it may be used for tax conditions of any complexity, together with self-employment (Schedule C) and rental property (Schedule E).

By distinction, TurboTax and H&R Block Online each have restricted free variations that may’t help advanced tax conditions. More complete plans may be dear, ranging as much as $200 for the federal return and over $50 per state for TurboTax’s most complete particular person plan.

2. The System Provides Immediate Alerts About Questionable Entries

As you fill out your FreeTaxUSA return, this system’s accuracy checker works quietly within the background to make sure that you’re not making any preventable errors. When you enter data that might qualify as such a mistake, you’re proven an alert that outlines the problem and suggests the best way to right it.

In some circumstances, these warnings received’t lead you to vary your entries. But it’s good to obtain them in actual time earlier than your return is accomplished and also you’re prepared to take a look at.

Other tax prep applications, similar to TaxAct, wait till you’re carried out along with your return to show warnings, alerts, and potential conflicts.

3. Handy, Highly Visible Bookmarks Within Returns

FreeTaxUSA has a handy bookmark system that allows you to mark particular person pages inside your return for simple future reference.

This is especially helpful in the event you aren’t positive that the data you’ve entered on a specific web page is completely right, however wish to preserve the ball rolling and get on with the elements of your return that you recognize you possibly can deal with. By bookmarking that downside web page, you possibly can return to it later.

Though they’ve extra versatile navigation methods, applications like TurboTax and H&R Block don’t have such helpful, clearly marked bookmarks.

4. You Can Move Between Income Topics at Will

The revenue portion of the FreeTaxUSA interface is very versatile. It means that you can select the matters you wish to work on at your leisure. This is helpful if you need to have the ability to full your return in a number of sittings, specializing in completely different elements (not essentially so as) every time.

By distinction, H&R Block doesn’t permit you to skip over any matters or sections that don’t pertain to your return.

5. You Can Pay Filing Fees With Your Refund

If you qualify, you might be able to pay FreeTaxUSA’s modest submitting charges along with your federal or state tax refund.

FreeTaxUSA didn’t supply this functionality earlier than the mid-2010s, however now that it does, it’s yet one more mark in its favor over costlier, full-service merchandise like TaxSlayer, TurboTax, H&R Block, and TaxAct – all of which permit filers to pay a lot heftier submitting charges with their refunds.

Disadvantages

Consider these disadvantages earlier than signing up for FreeTaxUSA.

1. Customer Service Is Lacking

FreeTaxUSA’s customer support options are missing.

For starters, the platform doesn’t embody cellphone help, a major oversight. It does supply precedence e-mail help, which gives close to-actual-time solutions to emailed and kind-submitted questions, at no cost for Deluxe filers. It additionally gives reside chat throughout prolonged tax season business hours.

However, that is nonetheless a nasty deal for Free Edition filers at any time, and Deluxe filers who put together their taxes after hours or on weekends (when the reside chat function isn’t operational).

By distinction, TurboTax has responsive cellphone help throughout tax season (early January by way of mid-April). Most different on-line tax prep applications have a buyer help cellphone quantity and prolonged-hours reside chat.

2. No Physical Branches or Infrastructure

FreeTaxUSA doesn’t have any bodily branches that you may flip to in the event you grow to be caught in your tax return and wish arms-on assist from a reside particular person.

By distinction, H&R Block has a community of greater than 10,000 bodily branches all through North America, offering peace of thoughts to filers who wish to know that they’re not completely on their very own.

3. Limited Importing Tools

FreeTaxUSA’s importing instruments are restricted. Without computerized importing for stock transactions, curiosity statements, and revenue statements, making ready a posh tax return generally is a tedious, time-consuming course of.

FreeTaxUSA’s prior-year importing capabilities aren’t nice both. If your most up-to-date return wasn’t filed with TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxAct, or FreeTaxUSA, even beginning a tax return requires some effort and time.

Many different applications, together with TurboTax and TaxAct, supply sturdy importing instruments that save time.

4. Not a Great Choice for Novice Filers

FreeTaxUSA’s precise tax prep interface is fairly person-pleasant, however this system’s poor assist infrastructure is an enormous disadvantage for first-time filers. Though I didn’t want to make use of the assistance matters whereas submitting, I did conduct just a few mock searches, and likewise browsed by way of matters by myself.

Overall, I discovered it robust to find related data – most of the solutions that seem increased up within the platform’s search outcomes take care of ideas which are extremely particular, similar to a specific state’s arcane tax credit score.

Moreover, the assistance has wanted main cleanup for years now. Duplicate matters and outdated data abound.

Perhaps worst of all, the assistance part is marred by an archaic search engine that doesn’t seem to acknowledge pure language or phrase variations.

For instance, after I searched “importing,” I received precisely zero outcomes, regardless of there being many assist matters that included the phrase “imported.” This stands in stark distinction to TurboTax, which has a browsable, simply searched assist part, in addition to a person-generated data base.

If I’d been a much less skilled filer who wanted an answer to finish my return, I would have given up utilizing FreeTaxUSA in frustration.

TurboTax, although a lot pricier, appears set as much as shepherd novice filers by way of the preparation course of, with clear, nicely-defined assist matters and a responsive buyer help infrastructure to fall again on.

Final Word

FreeTaxUSA resides proof of the previous truism “Time is money.” This program is extraordinarily reasonably priced for all filers, whatever the complexity of a specific tax state of affairs.

But its low price comes with some commerce-offs, notably the shortcoming to import data from a earlier return filed with one other program, data on a W-2, and knowledge on brokerage statements.

Depending in your tax state of affairs, significantly when you’ve got a number of stock transactions that must be reported individually, this limitation might lengthen your submitting time.

So if finishing a comparatively advanced tax return as rapidly as attainable is extra vital to you than spending as little as attainable to take action, FreeTaxUSA may not be for you.

On the opposite hand, in the event you’re on a decent price range or simply love saving money (and who doesn’t?), you’d be arduous-pressed to discover a extra reasonably priced possibility.


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