IRS Free File if your income is $69,000 or below.
For reviews, I’ve used the following, but not with Free File (although they’re all pretty much the same as their Free File editions)
- Turbo Tax – expensive if you don’t get the “other” free edition but still the easiest. Extra apps and tools to import help. Live support. I use Turbo Tax every year as an error check (I put in all the numbers but don’t file).
- TaxAct – my goto in the last 6 years, although it’s more expensive that it used to be. If we baseline TurboTax at 10, TaxAct is like an 8. I happen to hate one particular thing: TaxAct puts you into these “flows”, or tunnels. So you can’t just change one thing, you need to go into the, say Deductions track, and then re-answer all the questions.
- TaxSlayer – I’m a tax volunteer and we use TaxSlayer. It’s a version we access through the program portal, but I’d imagine very similar – maybe identical – to the normal version. Perfectly serviceable, and if it’s cheaper than TaxAct I may use it for my personal taxes this year.
- FreeTaxUSA – I used this one year, and I liked it; just not quite as friendly as the top two choices here, but if you have simple taxes, I’d say this is fine.
- Manual – I also used to file manually, but that was before the internet was really a thing. I don’t see much reason to do it now, other than saving money.
- Do your taxes with two different programs. If your refund is off by more than $1, you made a mistake somewhere (probably, I have allowed >$10 differences now that I own a business, and different tax products amortize and depreciate assets differently, and I can’t find ways to change it). Even being a tax nerd, I find I usually have a mistake my first try. The IRS can and will correct typos (mismatch on a W-2) but why wait for them?
- After your first year, doing taxes with a product is half the work – they all remember last year’s information so there’s less typing.
- If you don’t own a business or have a specific big tax event, a CPA is not needed. But, if you’re clueless about taxes, and are not diligent with answering the software questions, it may be worth doing once just to make sure you know if you qualify for something like an education credit. Big credits out there for education (AOTC, LLC, student interest deduction), energy (lots of state credits here, too), low income (Earned Income)… kids, but hopefully you knew that!