Why pay to file your taxes if you can get it done for free? Cash App Taxes (formerly Credit Karma Tax) is offering to file your taxes for free–no strings attached. Here’s our full review of the service.
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Every year, we end up having to fill out tax forms and file them with the IRS. It’s an annual ritual that causes many of us a bit of frustration. Having to pay a fee to file taxes can feel like adding insult to injury.
This is where Cash App Taxes comes in. While other tax prep services do have free versions, many of them are very limited in scope to those who have drastically simple situations. If you need to itemize, or if you have self-employed income to report, you’ll find yourself paying to file with most software packages.
Cash App Taxes, on the other hand, will help you file your taxes completely free–no matter your situation. Here’s what you need to know.
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- Completely free
- Easy to use
- Totally mobile
What is Credit Karma?
Credit Karma is best known for its consumer credit offerings. You can see estimates of your credit score, monitor aspects of your finances, and apply for credit cards and other loans.
This is the fourth year Credit Karma has offered tax preparation services, now called Cash App Taxes. It’s an attractive offer, with the company seen as a fairly popular tax preparer in the United States.
On top of helping you prepare and file your federal tax return, Cash App Taxes will also help you with your state filing for free. All you have to do is answer a few questions about your situation, and the online or mobile app will help you determine the best way to approach your taxes, including helping you determine what your filing status should be.
Credit Karma has made a few tweaks for this year, and it’s easier and smoother to use than previous versions.
Features of Cash App Taxes
There are several features that make using Cash App Taxes fairly painless. Unless you have a particularly complex situation, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to complete your tax return, whether you use a desktop, laptop, or mobile device.
- Import previous tax returns: Using Cash App Taxes’s Jumpstart feature, you can skip onboarding steps by uploading your 1040 from TaxAct, H&R Block, or TurboTax.
- Mobile filing: Cash App Taxes has a robust app that allows you to use your phone or tablet to take pictures and upload important documents.
- Tax return review: Before you file, Cash App Taxes will review your return and flag sections that might have been missed or that might need to be re-done.
- Audit defense: You can get third-party audit defense for free through a third party. You’ll get help answering audit questions or even get representation before the IRS or your state government if it’s needed.
- Guarantees: Cash App Taxes guarantees that you’ll get the maximum refund, or they’ll refund the difference, up to $100 in the form of a gift card. Additionally, if the IRS or your state penalizes you for inaccuracy, you can get up to $1,000 in the form of gift cards to offset the cost.
As you can see, Cash App Taxes offers many of the same services that you can get with costly options, but for free.
You don’t have to pay anything to use Cash App Taxes tax services. With the audit defense, Cash App Taxes provides you with a voucher code you can use that makes the service free.
However, you do have to sign up for the website, so you’ll see marketing for credit cards, car loans, and other offers. While Cash App Taxes won’t make money off preparing your taxes, eventually Square, Cash App Taxes parent company, might target small business owners with a paid service.
Signing Up for Cash App Taxes
You’ll have to download the app to access Cash App Taxes, then create an account to file this year’s taxes. If you want to access return’s from prior years, you’ll have to validate your identity by entering your name, date of birth and last four digits of your social security number. Then Cash App Taxes will send you a code through email or text.
It’s nice that you can upload a PDF of your previous year’s tax return to start the process. That way, you don’t have to enter all your basic details to start. However, there isn’t an option to import your W-2s or 1099′s—you’ll have to enter that information manually.
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As an Authorized IRS e-file Provider, Cash App Taxes is required to meet certain privacy and security standards. You can be reasonably sure that your information is protected. Cash App Taxes also uses bank-level encryption and supports two-factor authentication.
Cash App Taxes, as you might have guessed by the name, has a highly-rated app for both Android and iOS. . Once you’ve dowloaded the app, you can complete the entire process from your mobile device.
Cash App Taxes provides an online help center that has searchable information devoted to the tax preparation process.
You can get email support as well. There’s no phone support, though, so you need to make do with the online help center and emails.
It’s important to make sure that you start your tax return somewhat early in order to make sure you have what you need. Because you don’t have the same level of support as a paid service, if you decide you need to switch to another preparer, you need time to do so.
Pros & Cons
While there are definite advantages to using Cash App Taxes, it’s also important to consider the drawbacks, and make sure this is the right approach for your tax situation.
- Completely free — Even the audit defense won’t cost you anything. This is a truly free product.
- Supports a variety of situations — Most situations are supported by Cash App Taxes prep. You can itemize, report investment and rental income, and even file business returns.
- Easy to use — The interface is clean and easy to use. Plus, questions guide you through the process in an intuitive manner.
- Totally mobile — You can complete your tax return from the palm of your hand.
- Some forms aren’t available — While most situations can be handled, there are some that won’t work with Cash App Taxes. If you have a Foreign Tax Credit, need to file more than one state return, or have certain types of trust, you can’t use Cash App Taxes. There’s a list of all the situations that Cash App Tax doesn’t support in the Support Section.
- Customer service isn’t as robust — TurboTax offers screen share capabilities, and you can go into an H&R Block office. Cash App Taxes only offers email support.
Who Is It For?
If you’re fairly confident about filing your taxes, don’t expect to need a lot of hand-holding, and want a completely free way to finish your return, Cash App Taxes may be a good choice. It can handle most situations, as long as you don’t have something extremely complicated.
However, if you want a little more tax-specific guidance, and you think you’ll need more customer service support, it might make more sense to use TaxAct or TaxSlayer for budget options. For those who like more robust and dedicated tax help, it can make more sense to pay the cost of TurboTax or H&R Block software–or even hire a CPA.
Carefully consider your tax situation and your needs, balancing cost with access to personalized help.