Best Free Tax Software 2021 [File Your Taxes For Free]

free tax software

I just lately obtained a name from a good friend who was irate as a result of a tax software program firm wished to cost her over $100 to file her taxes. She solely had W-2 earnings and thought she’d qualify for the free tier. 

However it turned out {that a} mixture of HSA contributions, dependent care credit, and student loan interest pushed her as much as the paid tier. She felt ripped off and wished her time again.

Sadly, her state of affairs is all too widespread throughout tax time. A variety of on-line submitting corporations promote free submitting. Many are even a part of the FreeFile Alliance which is a bunch of corporations which have dedicated to providing free submitting for eligible people.

Nonetheless, customers could not qualify for the free supply due to the complexity of their submitting. By the point customers spend an hour or two coming into info they could find yourself paying high greenback to file their taxes.

As an alternative of being shocked by the worth tags of “Free” submitting presents, we wish you to be an knowledgeable client. We took a take a look at each main tax submitting software program and broke down who’s providing free submitting and who is not. Many of those corporations supply free federal returns for sure filers however cost for state returns. Or, even worse, some cost extra for a state return than different variations of their software program!

In 2021, H&R Block Free Online Tax Filing and Credit Karma Tax supply probably the most strong free file choices. However even these corporations have some limits. Earlier than you choose a “Free” software program bundle, try our listing of the perfect free software program to see if it is sensible for you

Free Tax Software program? Firms Can “Get You” Even With Free Software program Provides

Many of the corporations on this listing supply Free Federal submitting for a subset of taxpayers. The difficulty is that every firm has completely different standards totally free submitting. Some solely supply free submitting for a small subset of filers (often these with W-2 earnings solely, and no credits or deductions). Different corporations supply free Federal submitting however require cost for state submitting.

Probably the most irritating “gotchas” are typically associated to pupil mortgage curiosity deductions, retirement contributions, daycare bills, and HSA contributions. Nearly each main submitting service requires an improve to the “Deluxe” tier while you begin claiming these credit. This will really feel like a super-frustrating cash seize while you don’t know it’s important to pay till you’re an hour into the method and about to complete submitting.

Contemplate your self warned. Only a few tax software services supply free submitting when you’ve gotten advanced submitting. This isn’t to say that every one tax software program is a nasty deal. Quite the opposite, many tax software program packages are an actual cut price. However while you see a tax software program firm plastering Free on its web site, be cautious. It’s possible you’ll not qualify.

One other gotcha pertains to state submitting prices. Most individuals need to file federal and state returns. Some corporations supply free federal submitting, however all the time require customers to pay for state submitting charges. Typically the state submitting prices are hidden on the web site. So watch out earlier than you select an organization that advertises Free Federal submitting.

Which Firms Provide Free Federal and Free eFile State Tax Returns?

In 2021, the one firm providing free state and Federal submitting for ALL customers is is Credit Karma Tax. Credit score Karma Tax presents a surprisingly strong person expertise, audit help ensures, and help for many main tax conditions. In case you’re a bargainer, Credit score Karma Tax is a good wager. Check out Credit Karma Tax here >>

This yr, H&R Block can also be providing a sturdy free pricing tier. In case you earned W-2 earnings or obtained unemployment income, you could possibly qualify for this tier. The free tier additionally helps pupil mortgage curiosity deductions, academic credit, and little one tax credit. The few gotchas listed here are associated to retirement credit, HSA contributions, and little one or dependent care contributions. All of those regular conditions require an improve to the Deluxe tier. Check out H&R Block Online here.

We’re large followers of H&R Block’s expanded free pricing and Credit score Karma’s fully free choices. Nonetheless, a free product might not be the perfect match for you in 2021. People with advanced submitting conditions could need to select cut price software program like TaxHawk. Or they could go for high tier usability from costlier software program like H&R Block (the upgraded tiers) or TurboTax. This text focuses on free software program, however take into account your state of affairs earlier than making a range.

Observe For Final Minute Filers: Most state free submitting choices disappear after April 1st. Selecting a platform early on usually means you’ll get the perfect deal. File early subsequent yr to take benefit!

Observe: The tax prep presents that seem on this website are from corporations from which The School Investor receives compensation. This compensation could affect how and the place merchandise seem on this website (together with, for instance, the order through which they seem). The School Investor doesn’t embrace all tax prep corporations or all tax prep presents accessible within the market, though we’re all the time striving to maintain our content material up to date.

Record Of Free Tax Software program Firms

Watch Out For These “Gotchas”

Unemployment earnings, pupil mortgage curiosity, academic bills, and Little one Tax Credit score included totally free.

Be careful if it’s important to declare an HSA contribution (even when it is reported on a W-2) or when you have little one care bills. Individuals who could qualify for the Retirement Saver’s Credit score additionally need to improve.

Read our H&R Block Review.

Unemployment earnings and dependent credit score included totally free.

Be careful when you have pupil mortgage curiosity, if you’ll want to declare an HSA contribution (even when it is reported on a W-2) or when you have little one care bills (amongst different gotchas).

Read our TurboTax Review.

Little one Tax Credit score included within the free tier.

Be careful when you have unemployment earnings, pupil mortgage curiosity, little one or dependent care bills, or HSA contributions. Free for W2 and no dependents. 

Read our TaxAct Review.

100% Free. Nonetheless, some very sophisticated conditions aren’t lined.

See our Credit Karma Tax Review here.

State is $12.95 further.

Learn our FreeTaxUSA Review.

“Free to Begin”, to not file. They cost a $19.95 e-File price. Read the 1040Now review.

“Strive it free” however everybody pays the $25 price ticket.

Check out the review.

Solely Free for quite simple returns.


Be careful when you have over $100,000 in earnings, want to say a dependent or have curiosity earnings in extra of $1,500. HSA contributors, pupil mortgage curiosity, and different widespread deductions and credit are additionally excluded.

State is all the time $19.95.

Read our review.

Free Federal for sure earnings ranges (as much as $72,000 for individuals below age 65). State file solely free for IA, ID, ND, VT.

All others should pay for state submitting.

State is $9.95 further.

Read our OLT Review here.

State is $12.95 further. This is identical firm as FreeTaxUSA.

Learn the TaxHawk Review here.

Free for easy tax returns together with pupil mortgage curiosity and academic bills.

Folks with dependents, HSA contributions, IRA contributions, and different conditions might want to improve.

Read our Tax Slayer Review.


This yr, TaxAct is beginning to deal with its free filers like actual clients. Free filers can import prior returns and entry tech help for questions.

On high of these additions, TaxAct has expanded its definition of free. TaxAct supplies free submitting to individuals with W-2 earnings, training bills (however not pupil mortgage curiosity), and individuals who need to declare the kid tax deduction. The free submitting consists of federal and state returns.

However be careful. TaxAct bumps you out of the free zone fairly rapidly. Anybody with pupil mortgage curiosity, charitable contributions, little one care bills, or contributions to a traditional IRA will transfer to the Deluxe tier.

You’ll be able to learn extra about what TaxAct presents in our TaxAct Review.

TaxAct Logo


In 2021, TurboTax is permitting some customers to file state and federal returns totally free. And in case you qualify, it has a tremendous supply. Those that qualify can have their state and Federal returns appeared over by an enrolled agent.

Sadly, this supply is restricted to individuals with quite simple returns. TurboTax helps free Federal and State submitting for individuals with W-2 or unemployment earnings. It additionally helps the Little one Tax Credit score and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) on this tier.

Nonetheless, anybody with extra complexity gained’t qualify totally free submitting. That features anybody with HSA contributions, anybody who needs to say the Saver’s Credit, and people with pupil mortgage curiosity.

You’ll be able to learn extra about what TurboTax presents in our TurboTax review.

TurboTax Logo

H&R Block

H&R Block presents a free federal and state return this yr. In addition they expanded what counts totally free submitting, making them our best choice for people that qualify totally free file.

W-2 wage earners (together with owners, individuals claiming childcare bills, pupil mortgage curiosity deduction or charitable deductions and recipients of the earned earnings tax credit score) can all get free file this yr.

You’ll be able to learn extra about what H&R Block presents in our H&R Block Review.

HR Block Logo

Credit score Karma Tax

Earlier than the beginning of the 2021 submitting season, Credit score Karma offered Credit Karma Tax to a different celebration. Nonetheless, we’re excited to see that it’s nonetheless promising free state and federal submitting for all customers.

Whereas the corporate has had a couple of software program glitches previously, 2020 proved to be a strong yr for the platform. Assuming that the technical underpinnings remained fixed, Credit score Karma Tax will supply an amazing free product for many filers. Those that labored in a number of states and people with K-1 forms can be disqualified.

We’ll replace extra as quickly as they open it up. Learn more about Credit Karma Tax here.

Credit Karma Logo


FreeTaxUSA advertises itself as the perfect place to file your taxes totally free. The slogan is “Do it Proper. Do it free.” Sadly, the platform isn’t free. All customers should pay a $12.95 price to file a state return.

That’s to not say that I hate FreeTaxUSA. In actuality, I feel FreeTaxUSA and its companion website (TaxHawk) is a good cut price resolution for individuals with advanced tax submitting conditions. The state pricing is transparently displayed on the entrance web page of the web site. Nonetheless, FreeTaxUSA isn’t free. You’ll all the time need to pay for state submitting.

Try our FreeTaxUSA review here.

FreeTaxUSA updated logo


Past 1040now.web having the second ugliest web site of all tax preparation corporations, their pricing is exceptionally complicated. Their website says free on-line tax preparation. However none of their submitting choices are free.

1040 Now Advertising

They clearly cost $19.95 – there is no free! So why do they begin by saying free on-line tax preparation? I couldn’t discover presents totally free submitting for decrease earners both.

Beginning totally free isn’t free. That is software program to keep away from.

In contrast to many different submitting providers, has a flat pricing mannequin. All in, you’ll pay $25 to file your taxes. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve bought advanced taxes or simple taxes, the worth is identical. has a novel pricing proposition, however the service isn’t free. You can begin the submitting course of totally free. However you’ll must pay earlier than you file.

Try our review here.

ezTaxReturn solely helps free Federal submitting for a restricted subset of individuals. It’s essential to earn lower than $100,000, not have dependents and solely earn W-2 earnings. In case you alter your earnings by credit or deductions you can not use their providers.

ezTaxReturn has made their costs very clear this yr, and we respect that. They provide a restricted free file choice for each Federal and state. Because the free model is restricted, and the web site isn’t nice, we suggest skipping ezTaxReturn this yr.

Everybody who makes use of ezTaxReturn has to pay for state submitting in 2021.

Try our ezTaxReturn review here.


FileYourTaxes is hard to make use of and its value construction is byzantine. To qualify totally free federal submitting you could earn W-2 earnings, be below age 65, don’t have any dependents, and earn between $9,500 and $72,000. 

Free state submitting is restricted to Iowa, Idaho, North Dakota, and Vermont. All others must pay for state submitting. This website isn’t one we suggest, even in case you handle to qualify totally free submitting.

eSmart Tax

eSmart Tax is one other firm that gives free Federal returns, however expenses $29.95 for state returns. Be sure you learn right through, as a result of their free can also be fairly restricted.

We’re additionally disenchanted by that extremely excessive value level for state tax returns.

Try our full eSmartTax review here.

OnLine Taxes (OLT) is one other on-line tax software program firm that hypes up “Free Federal Return For Everybody” as a result of they cost further for the state return.

The $9.95 state return is pretty cheap, however this software program is a ache to make use of. Regardless of the free federal submitting, and the low value for state submitting, we suggest staying away.

Try our review here.

Tax Hawk

TaxHawk advertises “File Federal Taxes Free!” which seems to be true. Individuals who must file state returns might want to pay $12.95. TaxHawk doesn’t have a free pricing tier for state submitting.

With cleaned up promoting and nice software program, TaxHawk qualifies as an amazing cut price. However those that must file State Returns can’t file totally free with TaxHawk. 

Learn our full TaxHawk review here.

Tax Slayer

TaxSlayer is open and trustworthy about solely supporting easy returns on its free tier. Whereas it doesn’t help Little one Tax Credit or HSA contributions on its free tier, it does help pupil mortgage curiosity deductions. 

In case you qualify, TaxSlayer will file state and Federal taxes totally free. Whereas the 2021 “Free Tax” service from TaxSlayer is restricted, the platform can also be a cut price at among the larger value factors.

You’ll be able to read our full TaxSlayer Review here.

Steadily Requested Questions

Is there such a factor as free tax software program?

A number of corporations supply free tax software program to some clients. Sadly, most corporations prohibit who can file totally free. In 2021, solely Credit score Karma Tax is free for all clients. Nonetheless, H&R Block Free has a extra complete model of free submitting.

Does free submitting have restrictions?

Most corporations prohibit who qualifies totally free submitting. These corporations must generate profits, in order that they require some customers to improve. Paying for tax software program might be a worthwhile expense for you, however you need to select that prematurely. Don’t get caught paying high value after an hour or two of coming into monetary info.

Are federal and state tax returns free?

The FreeFile Alliance focuses on free federal submitting. Nonetheless, a number of corporations supply free federal and state submitting for a subset of consumers. For instance, TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxSlayer, TaxAct, and Credit score Karma Tax supply each federal and state submitting totally free.

Which tax software program is free?

Credit score Karma Tax and H&R Block Free are probably the most strong free file choices. Past that, TurboTax, TaxSlayer, Tax Act, FreeTaxUSA, and extra all supply free file.

Last Reminder About Free Tax Submitting

The world of Free Tax Submitting is stuffed with gotchas. Use the information above that can assist you select the correct software program to your state of affairs.

And keep in mind, free submitting might not be the correct transfer for you. Many individuals want to make use of costly tax submitting software program as a result of it helps them really feel assured about their submitting. You don’t need to be “Penny Smart and Pound Silly” on the subject of an expense as giant as your taxes. Free software program sounds nice. However don’t go totally free if it means lacking out on big tax deductions.

If you wish to estimate your taxes with out “Beginning For Free”, think about using a tax estimator – these are nearly all the time free.

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