The IRS is now accepting tax returns for 2021 with a deadline of April 18, 2022. There are some major changes to the free tax filing tools we recommended earlier this year, but you can still file your taxes for free.
If your adjusted gross income for 2021 was $73,000 or less, you qualify for the IRS Free File Program. This program is a partnership between the IRS and several paid tax software companies. If you qualify, you can take advantage of certain tax programs for free. You can do your federal taxes, do state taxes, take advantage of all the features and even e-files – all for $0.
Please note that the free versions available through IRS Free File are different from the normal free versions available on each program’s website!
Note: For tax year 2021, unfortunately, Intuit will no longer participate in the IRS Free File Program, meaning there will be no IRS Free File version of TurboTax.
To take advantage of this offer, you must start using the IRS Free File version of the software. If you meet the qualifications, you can use the software for free and you don’t have to pay for any feature. You can’t just start with the “regular” free version of a tax program. Doing so exposes you to paid features and other upsells.
To get started, visit the official IRS Free File website. You can browse all available Free File offerings or use the IRS Free File search tool to find the Free File software that supports your situation. Different tax programs have different limitations, which are explained on the page.
Interested in TaxSlayer? Consider MyFreeTaxes
MyFreeTaxes is a free tax service provided by The United Way. The organization offers a free version of TaxSlayer with no restrictions on the forms you use. If you start using TaxSlayer through The United Way, you are allowed to use it as long as your income is $73,000 or less.
The version of TaxSlayer offered through the IRS Free File website has an income cap of $39,000 or less. The version of TaxSlayer offered through The United Way lets you submit files for free if you make $73,000 or less. All you need to do is start your return by clicking on the MyFreeTaxes website.
Note: If you made more than $73,000 in 2021, the MyFreeTaxes website will direct you to Cash App Taxes, which we discuss below.
What about the TurboTax free edition?
Intuit still offers a free version of TurboTax, but it’s only for very basic tax situations. For example, even if your income was low in 2021, you’ll have to pay to upgrade from TurboTax Free Edition if you want to deduct student loan interest.
Warning: TurboTax is still widely acclaimed, so you may want to try it if you have a very simple situation, but keep in mind that the free version of TurboTax is designed to sell you on paid products.
This year, Credit Karma Tax has been converted to Cash App Taxes. Like Credit Karma Tax, Cash App Taxes is completely free for everyone with no upsells.
Despite the name change, this is the same app as Credit Karma Tax. if you have used it in previous years and were happy with it, it should be good for you.
Why the name change? Well, Intuit, creator of TurboTax, acquired Credit Karma but was required by the government to sell Credit Karma Tax as part of the deal. (Cash App is owned by Block, Inc., the company formerly known as Square.)
Unfortunately, just like when it was called Credit Karma Tax, not everyone can use this application. For example, Cash App Taxes does not allow you to file part-year state returns, multi-state returns, or non-resident state returns. So if you moved from one state to another in 2021 and you need to file state tax returns for both, Cash App Taxes is not for you.
Cash App Taxes also lacks other forms, Form 1116 for the Foreign Tax Credit or Form 2555 for Foreign Earned Income. These are the situations and forms that Cash App Taxes does not support.
Warning: While it’s been around for a few years in a few different forms, this is still a new application and hasn’t gotten that many years of development. We’ve heard reports of issues with it. If you have a complicated tax situation, you may want to double-check its work by running the numbers in another application before applying.
Free Federal Returns Only: FreeTaxUSA
If you live in a state where you don’t have to file a tax return, go to FreeTaxUSA. FreeTaxUSA offers free federal tax returns. So if you don’t need to file a tax return in your state, FreeTaxUSA is completely free.
Tip: You can attach a state tax return for a fee of $15 per state, and there is no additional e-file fee. It’s a lot cheaper than TurboTax if you want to pay tax software.
FreeTaxUSA has been around longer than Credit Karma Tax and supports several situations that Credit Karma Tax does not offer either. It is a more budget-friendly alternative to more expensive tools like TurboTax. TurboTax gets rave reviews for its easy-to-use interface, but we’ve also used FreeTaxUSA and are happy with it.
If you want to do things the old-fashioned way, there’s another option: the IRS offers fillable forms for free. Anyone can use it without an income limit.
These are just electronic copies of the IRS’s standard paper tax form. They will do some basic math calculations for you, but that’s it. Forget the easy-to-use interview process of typical online tax filing solutions.
Free fillable forms are still easier than dealing with standard paper forms, however, and you can email them for free from the IRS’s website when you’re done. No printing or mailing is required.
Note: The IRS only offers federal tax forms. After that you are on your own. However, your state may offer its own free fillable tax forms on its website.
Some of these electronic forms have some minor limitations that affect rare tax situations. Here is a list of available forms and restrictions on the IRS website. If you need to do something that isn’t supported, you’ll need to file a paper return or use another tax filing program
This guide is similar to our guide to filing 2020 taxes last year. Some changes have been made including TurboTax leaving the IRS Free File Program and Credit Karma Tax converted to Cash App Taxes. But you can still submit for free.
This post How to file your 2021 taxes online for free in 2022
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