2018 - 2019 Tax Software Reviews, Tips, and Tools

Free Tax Software

The ever-feared and ever-daunting Internal Revenue Services (IRS) had gone out of its way to do something exceptionally nice for many American taxpayers for the income tax filing season. In partnership with nineteen reputable software companies, the IRS will be featuring a new option that will enable users of the new Free Edition to prepared their income taxes and then file their returns for free. Free Edition is only available through the official IRS website.

The tax preparation software available as Free Editions ha been scrupulously tested for their cost, their ease of use, their speed and their accuracy. The following are the results of this testing:

FREE Online Tax Software Editions

1. TurboTax. The TurboTax Free Edition is highly recommended for its exceptional accuracy and is extremely fast and easy to use. Unlike many other Free Edition software programs that check numeric typos and miscalculations, TurboTax has an automatic “spell check” as well. TurboTax works best with Internet Explorer. I am sorry to say that TurboTax tends to frequently interrupt tax preparations with marketing information about a cost-bearing upgrade of its software and adding a state return costs extra.

2. H&R Block’s At Home Free Free Edition gives users free access to easy to use software. H&R Block is easy and fast to use and does not interrupt with marketing pressure for upgrades. H&R Block will only work of federal returns and adding a state return costs extra. Overall however, H&R Block is one of the very best Free Edition software programs available.

3. E-Smart-ax. The E-SmartTax Free Edition software quickly and accurately calculates tax preparations without the snazzy graphics that some other software programs have but then its interview-based format eliminates the troubles of trying to learn the software. Adding state return costs extra. CompleteTax is recommended.

4. TaxAct. TaxAct is very easy and accurate with a good “spell check” in place. It tends to be a bit slow because of its countless question screens that pop up and it repeatedly interrupts with reminders to upgrade to a paid version of the TaxAct software. It is still a very good program and is highly recommended. Adding a state return costs $21.95.

5. TaxEngine. The TaxEngine Free Edition software automatically calculated payroll taxes which is a rare feature amongst Free Edition software programs. TaxEngine has a clear user interface that makes it easier to prepare tax returns quicker than with other Free Edition software products. In spite of the fact that TaxEngine does not have a very good “spell check” in place and adding a state tax return will cost extra, it is still recommended.

6. TaxSlayer. TaxSlayer Free Edition Edition makes tax preparation a breeze by cutting through much of the expected muddle. TaxSlayer does not charge extra for adding state tax return and is recommended.

7. Olt. Olt Free Edition has a few confusing sections and is only moderately fast so it's not one of our top choices to use.

8. Efiletaxreturns. Efiletaxreturns is difficult to navigate and a bit slow.

9. The following Free Edition software programs are confusing and slow and are not recommended: Online Tax Pros; FreeTaxUSA; 123EasyTaxFiling; CitizenTax.

10. The following are lower rated Free Edition software programs because they are slow, hard to understand and prompt for answers that they should not be asking. FileYourTaxes; Average1040; 1040Now; EZTaxReturn; Free Tax Returns; ESmartTax; TaxSimple.

Easy to follow formatting and ease of use go hand in hand with the two top rated free tax software brands TurboTax and H&R Block.

FREE Edition Tax Software Limitations

These tax software editions offer free efile along with the free tax preparation but, there are some restrictions you should be aware of before you jump in head first and get started preparing your taxes.

  • They are designed for very simple returns without special tax forms or guidance for investments and home ownership. There is also limited tax deduction support for things like medical and educational expenses.
  • They don't offer import capabilities, so all your personal information will need to be entered by hand each year regardless of whether your a returning customer or not.

Now if you don't have issues with the restrictions listed above, then these free editions may in fact be the perfect solution to your tax filing needs, and a cheap one at that! It's a price you can't afford to pass up...

TurboTax Online FREE Edition


Free Online Tax Software: What to Look For

When selecting tax software you should look for accuracy and ease of use. We rated the top tax preparation services above that will easily guide you to an accurate return so you can easily decide which online tax software will work best for your tax situation.


Many online tax services tout that they can provide the largest refund but, only the ones that guarantee it should be considered.

Ease of Use

We ranked higher the easiest-to-use tax services. Using the best tax software, you should be able to create an accurate return since the best programs walk you step by step through the whole tax preparation process. The best tax software should complete all math computations for you and be designed to catch common entry errors as well as point out audit triggers.

Help & Support

Though the online tax software should be simple to use, adequate customer and technical support should in fact always be readily available if you need it. Most online tax services will help you file an amendment for free if you originally filed using their service. The best tax services provide telephone, email and chat support as extensive tax information posted online to answer questions.

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