Top five free tax software programs

1 min readLast updated February 7, 2024by Rachel Carey

Free tax software programs can help you fill out your tax return quickly. We break down how they work and highlight five programs that can help you with your taxes.

What is tax software? 

Tax software is a type of computer program designed to help individuals and businesses prepare and file their tax returns.  

It typically provides step-by-step guidance for entering income and deduction information, calculates the user’s tax liability, and generates the necessary forms for filing with the government. Using these programs can simplify the tax preparation process, help reduce errors and help taxpayers identify deductions and credits they may not have otherwise known about. 

You can purchase some tax software for a fee. These paid-for options tend to come with a host of handy features designed to make the process easier. But, even when opting for a free version, the base features can simplify the process and make filing tax returns easier.  

How could tax software help me?  

Tax software can help simplify your taxes in a few different ways. Firstly, the software can break down many of the more complex aspects of tax returns, making the process easier to understand. Many also come with automatic calculations, saving you hours of manual calculating.  

Moreover, the automated software has many efficiencies to speed up your filing. It can detect errors in real-time, and when you have finally completed your tax return, it can help you quickly email it to the right location and direct you to any further documents you may need.  

What should I look for when comparing tax software? 

Tax software is designed to make filing your tax return easier. So, there are several features you should consider when comparing tax software.  

Each person will have their desired features, so you should ask yourself your priorities when comparing software.  

Innovative features, such as data importing and exporting that allow you to easily digitally transfer receipts and records are also important. As part of this, good software will also come with a range of different tax forms, such as 1040 forms, Schedule C, and Schedule E forms, so you should be able to import your receipts into your forms with relative ease. Equally, the more automated and intelligent the software is – for example, some software includes automatic error detection – the more seamless your tax return will be.  

Finally, while some software providers offer you support, some programs may provide internal support through your software, helping you get real-time feedback. You should also pay close attention to the security and safety of your program. The last thing you need is important tax data going missing or, worse, being compromised by cybersecurity breaches.  

Five free tax software programs 

With these criteria in mind, which tax software should you look at? While many programs come with premium versions, many can be accessed and used for free. Here are five different software currently available:  

1. Cash App Taxes 

Cash App comes in both a free and premium version. With the free model, you can quickly file both your federal tax return and a single state tax return – to do any more than this, you will need the paid version. You can download the app to your computer or mobile device. By depositing your completed tax return into your own Cash App account, you can get your taxes filed up to two days early.  

However, there are some drawbacks with the free model. Alongside limitations to the number of taxes you can file, Cash App isn’t geared to handle more complex tax returns. It is also unavailable to citizens of certain states.  

2. Free Tax USA 

Free Tax USA has a few similarities to Cash App but can handle more complex tax returns – mostly for free. Federal tax returns are free, including for self-employed individuals, giving this app a notable advantage. However, state taxes do come with a small fee.  

3. H&R Block 

H&R Block is a smart software program that lets you file both federal and state taxes for free. Thanks to its inbuilt tech, it also helps you snap up a range of credits and deductions. It can handle a range of taxes and is well-designed for filers with special credits and deductions. 

4. Turbo Tax 

Turbo Tax supports filers with predominantly simple tax returns but does help filers take advantage of a range of credits and deductions. For this reason, this is a good software program for homeowners and filers with W-2 and 1099-income. You can consider the paid version for more complex tax actions, but the free version remains a good option. 

5. Tax Slayer 

Tax Slayer allows you to file your federal taxes for free and one state tax return. Moreover, the free version lets you include your student loan interest deductions and education credits. This easy-to-use program has plenty of smart and intuitive features to handle some of the trickier parts of your tax returns.  

Filing your taxes can be difficult. But with the right free tax software at your disposal, you can easily file and follow the progress of your tax return. That being said, while free tax software can come with some handy features, free software is usually limited and won’t always be able to fulfill the full range of services you may need. You’ll need to speak to a financial advisor who can help you fully plan your taxes.  

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Senior Content Writer

Rachel Carey

Rachel is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She has nearly a decade of experience writing and producing content across a range of different sectors.