Free Tax USA Review
It’s not just a clever name; Free Tax USA was designed and created to help taxpayers file their federal tax returns for free. They’re not alone in that; Free Tax USA is part of the Free File Alliance, a group of tax preparation companies that have agreed to give taxpayers the opportunity to file their returns at no charge. There are a few caveats and qualifications, however, and you’d do well to review them before you get started just to make sure that you qualify and that this product is what you want to use. On the whole, Free Tax USA makes it easy and quite affordable to file your Federal income taxes online. They can handle state income taxes as well, for a modest fee.
Free Tax USA Overview
This Utah-based company makes it easy and fast to file your Federal and state income taxes online. They don’t have a downloadable version of the Free Tax USA software; it’s all done via your Web browser. Unlike most companies, Free Tax USA doesn’t have four or five versions of their software, either. They only have two – the free version, and the deluxe version. The free version is, well, free, and the deluxe version at this time costs $5.95. This is for Federal tax returns only; the state returns currently cost $12.95.
There isn’t a whole lot of difference between the two versions offered, but the Deluxe version offers you assistance should you be audited by the IRS, priority support and the ability to file unlimited amended returns. You can test the Deluxe version for free, as well. You only need to pay when it’s time to actually file your return. The nominal charges for both Federal and state filings make Free Tax USA one of the most affordable tax preparation products on the market. Even if you buy the Deluxe version and pay to file your state returns, you’re still spending less than $20 in total. Unlike other products, you won’t find a long list of upsells, either. The price is the price.
Free Tax USA is easy to use and you can file by simply completing forms online. The format is interview-style questions; they ask questions and you answer them. Most filers can complete their returns in about a half an hour. There’s a refund “meter” in the upper corner of your screen that keeps track of how much you should receive in the way of a refund (or have to pay) as you fill out the form. Most forms and schedules required by the vast majority of taxpayers are covered by the product, so most everyone will find that they can get their returns done with Free Tax USA, even if they have stocks, rental income or other unusual income issues. Free Tax USA also guarantees that their software is 100% accurate; if their software results in an error on your return that costs you money, they’ll pay it for you. They keep your information on file from year to year, making it easy to update it for future returns.
All in all, the free version of Free Tax USA offers all of the following:
- You can e-file your returns for free
- You can print your returns for free
- You can print your returns as a PDF and backup your date online
- Your personal date can roll over from one year to the next, making for easy completion of your returns next year
- You can file for tax extensions
- Deduction and Credit finding tools are included
- You have the option to pay with direct debit
- The software supports both simple and complex tax returns
- Unlimited support is available by phone and by email
- No software to download; it’s all online
Free Tax USA Cons
There are downsides to any product, and Free Tax USA does have a few:
Not all taxpayers will be able to use Free Tax USA, as there are income and age restrictions regarding who can use the free service. Be sure to check the terms before you get too involved so that you don’t waste a lot of time if you find you don’t qualify.
There is an extra charge for filing state returns, and that applies regardless of which Federal version you use. In addition, you must have lived within your state for the entire year in order to file state returns via Free Tax USA.
Free Tax USA offers tech support by phone and email, but nothing in person. For some people, that’s important, though most people will find the available support to be sufficient.
Software is not downloadable; you must have an active Internet connection to use Free Tax USA.
Free Tax USA covers most forms and schedules, but there are a half a dozen or so that are not supported by their system. You can contact their support team to be sure that the forms you need are supported if you have a tendency to use any unusual ones.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to Free Tax USA is that the software is only for tax preparation, and while that’s helpful, it’s tax strategy that’s going to save you the most money on your taxes. Few taxpayers realize that there are hundreds of ways the average consumer could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on their taxes. There are many deductions and alternate way of calculating expenses that most tax software (and even most tax preparers!) just don’t know about. If they don’t know about it, they can’t help you with it.
Free Tax USA is a good product, and it can help you file your tax returns. What it can’t do is help you save money. In order to save the maximum amount of money and pay the least amount of taxes that you legally owe, you need a tool that will keep you apprised of the latest, up to date, information with tips, strategies, and alternate ways of looking at your expenses that can save you money when April 15 rolls around.