FreeTaxUSA Free File Edition

Couple working at home with laptop and paperwork

Tempura / E+ / Getty Images

You may be able to prepare their federal tax returns for free by using the Free File edition of FreeTaxUSA. This is one of the Free File tax software programs endorsed by the IRS's Free File Alliance.

The Alliance helps taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes (AGI) of $73,000 or less file their annual tax return for free if they're otherwise qualified by age and earned income tax credit (EITC). The AGI threshold adjusts yearly. The $73,000 limit applies to your 2021 income which you'll report on your 2022 Form 1040 tax return. And some Alliance members have more stringent requirements.

Key Takeaways

  • FreeTaxUSA's free program is limited to taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $41,000 as of 2021. This is the tax year for which you'll file a return in 2022.
  • The paid version will set you back $14.99 if you don't qualify for the free program.
  • FreeTaxUSA provides a special tool to help you get the largest tax refund you can qualify for.
  • The service supports free state returns as well in 42 states.

FreeTaxUSA Eligibility

Your 2021 AGI must be less than $41,000 to use FreeTaxUSA, or less than $73,000 if you were in the military on active duty. The service is free for filers in 42 states who meet the federal free requirements. It costs $14.99 for those who don't. The Deluxe Service is an additional $6.99.

The process can take about two hours to prepare a basic federal and state tax return. It includes contextual help, extension filings, a refund maximizer, and bookmarks for easier navigation.

Navigation and User Interface

FreeTaxUSA's user interface is easy to use with no downloads or special plug-ins required. The user interface does not provide pictures like other tax preparation providers. But the software does vary the colors and boldness of fonts for a unique style.

The top-level navigation tabs enable the end-user to jump to personal information, income, deductions and credits, miscellaneous topics, a summary, their state, and a filing page. Clicking a drop-down arrow from the top-level navigation reveals a menu path to navigate to sections of the program. This can help a user save and return to various parts of their filing while it is still in draft mode.

Be sure to save between page navigation and sessions to avoid losing your work.

Users can also access the homepage, account information, and support through each page's top-line header. Each account profile has some extra security measures that include an option to add two-step verification.

Below the top-level navigation, FreeTaxUSA places buttons to navigate to the prior page, bookmarks, topic list, and history. Users progress through the program by answering questions and clicking a "continue" button.

The Income and Deductions Pages

In contrast to other tax software that asks one question at a time, FreeTaxUSA places as much data entry on one screen as possible. This minimizes clicks for information entry. Tax preparation begins with income, with the appropriate forms for addendum attachments if needed.

The program will automatically include the forms you need based on the answers you provide.

After completing the income data entry sections, FreeTaxUSA moves to the deductions/credits section. This section of the software asks a series of questions relating to:

The American Rescue Plan temporarily expanded eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit when it was passed early in 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. More households will qualify for this credit in 2021 than in past years, as well as more childless households and taxpayers under age 25 and over age 65.

It then gives you an itemized outline of your data in summary form. It applies tax breaks where available. The remainder of the process follows the miscellaneous, summary, state, and filing menu items.

The Refund Maximizer Tool

FreeTaxUSA offers a refund maximizer tool at the end of the miscellaneous section that goes through the tax return items. It asks questions that can identify other tax breaks. FreeTaxUSA provides a refund/payment tracker along the way, located in the upper-right corner.

FreeTaxUSA provides the opportunity for the user to review a PDF version of the federal tax return from the Federal Tax Summary page when it's completed.

You can then move on to your state return if you're satisfied with your federal return. The state return section automatically carries forward the federal information, saving time in the data entry process.

The state return section also follows the same procedures for income, deductions/credits, and miscellaneous issues with questions specific to each state. You'll also be able to view a PDF of your state return filing when you finish the state section.

Help Features

FreeTaxUSA places question marks in a red circle next to the data entry fields. Clicking these will open a text box providing information on the subject of the field.

There's also an article library available where many questions can be answered. Popular help topics such as common issues, page help, and a deduction dictionary are included.

FreeTaxUSA has a decent support center for help. There's a link located on the right side and the top headline bar of each browser screen. The support center does not have live chat or a live phone line. But questions can be emailed to a representative who will respond within 24 hours.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are FreeTaxUSA's best features?

Overall, FreeTaxUSA can be noted for its review functions, clear questioning, and thoroughness. Its refund maximizer takes extra steps to help users identify any tax breaks they may have missed or overlooked.

It also has a nice style with helpful sidebars and headline links, along with different fonts, font sizes, and colors. It provides nearly everything you would expect from a do-it-yourself tax program.

What are FreeTaxUSA's drawbacks?

It lacks personalized and immediate help features. But its information library is expansive and simple to navigate.

Article Sources