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FreeTaxUSA review: Free federal returns and under $20 for state returns

Why pay more to file taxes than you have to?

FreeTaxUSA offers free federal filing and state filing for just $12.95.

FreeTaxUSA offers free federal filing and state filing for just $12.95.


My father lives by a few adages; one of the primary ones is, "You can't beat free." It's hard to argue with his logic, and that's the appeal of filing your taxes with FreeTaxUSA: Federal returns cost $0 to file, and state taxes usually cost under $15.

While that's not entirely free, it's far cheaper than what you'd pay with the biggest names in the space, like TurboTax or H&R Block. FreeTaxUSA doesn't have quite the marketing cache as those, but it's got all the features you need and it's almost always cheaper.

FreeTaxUSA - FreeTaxUSA.com

12.95Start Free Return

There are always ways to file taxes for free through the Internal Revenue Service, but you won't be able to file for free online through the IRS if you make more than $72,000 per year.

FreeTaxUSA lands at the intersection of low price and high utility: For under $20, you can can fill in all your data online and save your work as you go. If you have a simple 1040 and have filed online before, it can take under an hour.

Is FreeTaxUSA a legitimate company?

The name might not sound that appealing (well, except if you're like my dad), but FreeTaxUSA is totally legitimate. It's an IRS-approved E-file provider with hundreds of thousands of reviews.

Now sure, most companies would tell you they're legit to instill confidence. Here's a personal endorsement: I've used FreeTaxUSA to file my taxes for the last three years. I recommend it to all my friends, and have been pleased with its ease of use and transparency in pricing. That's all I want, and that's what it delivers.

FreeTaxUSA price

Federal tax returns are entirely free on FreeTaxUSA. The company makes its money through filing state returns, and offers two different price tiers—but the price doesn't go up based on factors like having a Health Savings Account, home ownership or itemized deductions.

Often when using online tax-filing software, it feels like a bait-and-switch, where you thought you were paying $20 to file, and suddenly a form you got in the mail means you have to pay another $40 to file.

FreeTaxUSA's pricing breakdown is simple:

  • Federal Tax Return: Free
  • E-file: Free
  • Customer Support: Free
  • Printable Tax Return: Free
  • Tax Extension: Free
  • State Tax Return: $12.95
  • Deluxe Edition: $6.99

File federal return for free with FreeTaxUSA

FreeTaxUSA - FreeTaxUSA.com

12.95Start Free Return

What's in FreeTaxUSA Free Edition

Along with all the included services listed earlier, FreeTaxUSA includes all of these features:

  • More than 350 credits and deductions
  • Prior year info import
  • Free printable copies of your return, both now and later
  • Deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes
  • Mortgage interest and property taxes write-offs
  • Credits for charitable donations
  • Comparisons to last year's return
  • Filing for self-employed, 1099, or contractor income
  • Investment income
  • Rental income
  • HSA contributions
  • Student loan interest deductions
Sample of deductions and credits in FreeTaxUSA

Sample of deductions and credits in FreeTaxUSA

FreeTaxUSA/Hearst Newspapers

While not every one of these applies to every person, it offers peace of mind to know that paying off student loans or owning a home doesn't mean you have to pay more to file your taxes. It's bad enough paying the taxes—paying more to do it is just punishment.

From personal experience, again, I've filed as a W-2 employee with 1099 income, investment income, HSA contributions and student loan interest deductions. I've never had any issues.

What's in FreeTaxUSA Deluxe Edition

The Deluxe Edition adds a few customer service features for $6.99:

  • Priority support with live chat
  • Unlimited amended returns
  • Audit assist

If you're nervous about filing on your own, you can buy further peace of mind for $6.99. I've never been audited (fingers crossed), and I've not had to file an amended return, so I've not needed to pay the extra $6.99. But that's the cost of a Venti latte at Starbucks, and it's the most you'll pay extra with FreeTaxUSA.

Is FreeTaxUSA easy to use?

I almost enjoy filing my taxes, because I usually get money back. I say "almost," because I'm not an actual masochist.

Like most online filing services, FreeTaxUSA guides you through the step-by-step filing process. You'll have to fill in data from your W-2, providing information like your name, employer and income. But all those fields coordinate easily, and most of the rest of the process is just choosing "Yes" or "No" to questions like "Did you pay any work-related child care expenses during 2020?" When there's an entry field, you fill in the amount that corresponds with your paperwork.

If you're organized and have all your tax documents, you can have your entire return filed in about an hour.

Which is better: TurboTax or FreeTaxUSA?

TurboTax is great if you're a W-2 employee and file a 1040-EZ. Congratulations on having a simple life devoid of home ownership, student loans or any investments. I envy your inner peace.

For a lot of people, however, the complications of real life add to the cost of TurboTax. That's not the case with FreeTaxUSA.

Let's say you are a W-2 employee, own a home and are paying off student loans. TurboTax recommends its Deluxe Edition, which costs $60 to file your federal return, and $50 to file a single state return, for a total cost of $110.

In that same scenario—W-2, home and student loans—FreeTaxUSA costs $0 to file your federal return and $12.95 to file a single state return for a total of $12.95. To spell it out:

W-2 employee, home owner paying off student loans

  • TurboTax: $110
  • FreeTaxUSA: $12.95

That's not even including something like TurboTax's self-employed filing, which starts at $120 for state filing. Yikes.

This is one person's opinion, but: FreeTaxUSA is better than TurboTax.

Is FreeTaxUSA really free?

Yes. To reiterate: Federal tax returns are free with FreeTaxUSA. You only pay to file your state return, and that's usually under $15.

FreeTaxUSA coupon code

FreeTaxUSA is already inexpensive compared to competitors, but it usually has a coupon code floating around. Try using FREETAXUSA10 to save 10% off your filing.

FreeTaxUSA - FreeTaxUSA.com

12.95Start Free Return

Should I use FreeTaxUSA?

If all of the gushing up to here did not get the point across: Yes, you should use FreeTaxUSA if you're comfortable filing your own taxes. It's inexpensive, thorough, and won't leave you mad that each button you press costs you more money.

I'm not a financial expert; I'm just a price-conscious guy who files his own taxes. Having used TurboTax and H&R Block in prior years, and using an account when I had more freelance income, I can vouch for FreeTaxUSA's ease of use and fair pricing.

Just do yourself a favor: Don't wait until tax day to file. FreeTaxUSA is cheap and simple enough to alleviate most of the headache of filing. Actually paying your taxes—well, that's a different story.