You can prepare your taxes and electronically file your return for free using one of the IRS Free File websites. The IRS has teamed up with nineteen software companies to make tax preparation free or low-cost for most Americans. You must begin at the IRS Free File page. If you go directly to the company's website, you won't qualify for the free service.
These tax prep programs were thoroughly tested using the following criteria: Cost, Ease of Use, Speed, and Accuracy.
3. TaxACTTaxACT could have been faster had it eliminated some of the question screens, and allowed me to speed through my tax return. Reminders to upgrade to the paid Deluxe version slowed me down too. TaxACT caught a typo when I was entering my W2 information (a common tax prep mistake). In fact, TaxACT is one of two Free File software programs that caught the error. Adding a state return will cost $12.95. TaxACT is fast and easy to use. Considering its accuracy, TaxACT is very highly recommended.
4. CompleteTaxCompleteTax offers quick and accurate tax calculations in an interview-based software format. While I wish the interface could be snazzier, overall CompleteTax allowed me to finish a tax return quickly without the hassles and headaches of trying to figure out the software. Fast and relatively easy to use. Adding a state return will cost an extra $9.95. Recommended.
5. TaxEngineTaxEngine automatically calculated the payroll taxes on my W2. This is a rare feature among Free File software providers. However, the software did not catch a typo on my W2 (a common mistake). Overall, TaxEngine's clean user interface makes it easier to prepare a tax return smoothly and quickly. Fast and relatively easy to use. Adding a state tax retun will cost an extra $10. Recommended.
6. TaxSlayerMuch improved over last year, TaxSlayer now sports a slick, lightning fast user interface that cuts through the usual tax prep clutter. Free state tax return if you are preparing a federal return. If you are preparing only a state return, the fee is $9.95. TaxSlayer is fast and relatively easy to use. Recommended.
7. OLTI had a little trouble understanding the registration screens and the error checklist page (at the end of the tax prep process). Otherwise, the interview screens kept me clicking along quickly. One nice bonus, the website asked me to look over a preview of my tax forms before e-filing. The logout screen was a bit confusing. After hitting "logout" I was taken to a blank screen. I have no idea if my tax return was saved or not. OLT has an average speed and is somewhat easy to use.
FreeTaxUSA: FreeTaxUSA is heavy on the data entry screens.
123Easytaxfiling: The biggest drawback of 123Easytax is their navigation interface. Overall, this software offers a subpar user experience, and is not recommended.
CitizenTax: Got error message after adding a W2. State tax forms were not available for testing. Does not support Schedule C or F.
average1040: I'm suspicious that they force users to input their bank account information.
1040Now: extremely slow Web server.
ezTaxReturn: horrible user interface.
Free Tax Returns: data entry forms are long and cumbersome.
eSmartTax: questions are hard to understand.
TaxSimple: ActiveX control crashed my computer.