5 Websites That Will Help You File Your Taxes For Free

Photographed by Megan madden.
It’s that time of year again. You're sifting through pays stubs, tracking down various W-something documents, and trying to figure out what the heck you're either going to get from or owe the IRS. Yep, it’s tax season. This year feels particularly different considering that, in 2021 (the tax filing year in reference), we saw the ongoing financial impact of COVID-19 as well as the Great Resignation. For many, the ways in which money was earned and spent over the past couple of years have shifted. Some found themselves working remotely for the first time; others finally made the move to self-employment; others may have job-hopped or taken planned time off between positions. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the yearly struggle of attempting to make sense of our financials. And, for that, some of us still need some help in determining which tax preparation software is best for our individual needs.
While we got extensions to file taxes in 2020 and 2021, the filing date returned to normal mid-spring deadline. However, because Washington, D.C., will be observing Emancipation Day on April 15, this year the filing date falls on the following Monday for everyone. To avoid any penalties, you should plan to have your taxes filed by April 18. We know how real procrastination is, so we're here to help you get to that audit-free finish line. Since there are many websites offering seemingly similar services free of charge, we're breaking down the ins and outs of the most popular online-filing offerings below, from Credit Karma to Turbotax.

Turbotax Free Editon

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 Stars for 2,123 Reviews
This is probably the online tax software you’ve heard the most about over the years. If you have a simple tax return you can file federal and state taxes for free. It’s ideal for those with W-2 or unemployment income. All you do is answer questions about your life over the past year and upload the needed documents. If you have a more complicated return or have certain deductions that aren’t included you may be prompted to upgrade to a paid version. 
File on Turbotax

Credit Karma 

Rating: 4.8 out of 5 Stars over 1 million reviews
The company with the handy app that you can use to check your credit score (for free) all year round also has dove into the tax filing market. You can expect the same seem less interface you may have gotten used to in the past for learning about and checking your credit. Credit Karma offers 100% free filing for state and federal taxes even if you are taking extra deductions or credits. Whether you have a simple return, business income, set-employment tax, student loan interest and more this could work well for you. 

Tax Slayer 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars from 12,968 reviews 
Tax Slayer's offerings are very similar to others listed where if you have a simple tax situation you can file federal and a state tax return for free. However, Tax Slayer's simple return does include tax breaks student loan interest, and education credits, so it’s ideal for students with simple returns. There are other paid offerings if you require something a little more complex. However, there can be zero-out of pocket fees if you’d like as they allow you the option of deducting the cost of Tax Slayer Products from your federal tax refund. 
File on Tax Slayer

H&R Block 

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars from 150,370 reviews
H&R Block has simple, easy-to-understand offerings. Like others, it’s free to file for unemployment income, W-2’s, and students. Some credits that are included in the free version include the Earned Income Tax Credit, Student loan interest, tuition payments, and reporting retirement income. 

Tax Act

Rating: 4.1 out of 5 from 110 reviews
The IRS is using Tax Act to offer their free filing program this season. With the free file program, you get to file your federal and state taxes for free if you meet certain requirements. These requirements are an adjusted gross income below $63,000, and you are 56 years or younger or eligible for Earned Income Tax Credit. If you are active military and make $72,000 or less, you also qualify as well.

Note from Tax Act: “If you qualify for a free federal return, you can also file a free state return for the following: AR, AZ, DC, GA, IA, ID, IN, KY, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NH, NY, OR, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT, WV. Other state returns are $19.95.”
File on Tax Act

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series