FreeTaxUSA Review 2020 -- Is it Really Free?

(Editor Rating)



A detailed review of FreeTaxUSA, a low cost tax preparation software for both federal and state tax returns. Is it really free? We have the answers.

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Software Usability


Cost Structure


Audit Support


Customer Service




  • Free Federal / Cheap State Returns
  • Audit Assist Available
  • Quick and Easy Software

Editor's note - You can trust the integrity of our balanced, independent financial advice. We may, however, receive compensation from the issuers of some products mentioned in this article. Opinions are the author's alone, and this content has not been provided by, reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser.

FreeTaxUSA is an online tax preparation website that enables you to prepare, print, and e-file your taxes for free. At least that’s true in regards to filing your Federal income tax return. This appears to be a pretty solid, if not spectacular, online tax preparation software.

Let’s take a closer look.

Who and What is FreeTaxUSA?

Free Tax USAThe company is owned by TaxHawk, Inc. It started in 2001 and was founded by a CPA and a team of professional software developers. The company is an original member of the IRS Free File Alliance and an authorized IRS e-file provider. It has securely filed millions of federal tax returns with the IRS.

Each year a team of tax analysts update the software to incorporate the most recent changes in federal and state tax codes. When the software is updated, it goes through rigorous testing and an approval process with both the IRS and each state.

Learn More: How to Get an Extension for Filing Your Taxes

The site claims that it grows by promoting itself mostly by word-of-mouth. Filers keep coming back since there are no charges for the roll-over of prior year tax data. In addition, the pricing is straightforward and has no hidden fees.

Still another advantage is that FreeTaxUSA has only two versions–Free and Deluxe. This is in contrast to other popular tax preparation software companies that typically have four, five, or even more versions. Filers may find the higher number of versions and their associated add-on fees to be both confusing and intimidating. None of that exists with FreeTaxUSA.

FreeTaxUSA Advantages

Here are the basic benefits of using FreeTaxUSA to prepare and e-file your income tax returns.

Even Complicated Tax Situations Are Covered By Both Editions

With competing tax preparation tax software programs, you usually have to buy a premium version in order to handle self-employment (Schedule C), rental real estate (Schedule E), capital gains transactions (Schedule D), and the various types of K-1 related income sources. But FreeTaxUSA can handle all of those on both the Free and Deluxe editions.


Unlike with most of the other major players in the tax software game, the forms you can access with FreeTaxUSA don’t vary by version. The upgraded version is all about additional support rather than additional forms. This means you can likely get all the tax forms you need filed through the free option.

Free Support

Based on my review, I would say that FreeTaxUSA provides limited direct customer support.

You can search for support topics on the Customer Support page or take advantage of the customer support email feature. If you pay for the Deluxe Edition, you can also get free support through chat or see if the answer to your question is in the Q & A database.

Accuracy Guaranteed

Like other online tax preparation software programs, FreeTaxUSA guarantees the accuracy of their tax calculations. They will pay the interest and penalties if you’re assessed any by the IRS due to a calculation error in their software.

Audit Assist

The Deluxe version of FreeTaxUSA provides Audit Assist, which gives access to audit specialists who can answer your questions should you be subject to an IRS audit. It also lets you access the Audit Center, which is a database of information you might find helpful during the audit process.

The Audit Assist tool is much more limited than those provided by more expensive providers. According to FreeTaxUSA’s disclaimer, Audit Assist doesn’t cover state returns, and it doesn’t give you a representative who will correspond directly with the IRS. You’ll still have to do the work, but the experts will help you craft responses to the IRS, know what records to gather, and help you know what steps to take next.

FreeTaxUSA provides what I think would best be termed limited audit protection through their Audit Assist feature. This service is available only if you purchase the Deluxe Edition.

Related: I Was Audited By the IRS!

They give you access to the FreeTaxUSA Audit Center, as well as with audit specialists who can answer your specific questions. The Audit Center provides information as to how to respond to the specific IRS notice that you receive, as well as information on how to respond to either an IRS letter or an IRS audit.

Other tax preparation softwares provide more audit representation, but for a much steeper price. If you go through an audit, you may still need to hire a representative. However, if you’re at low risk for an audit, paying an extra $6.99 to access this feature could give you some peace of mind.


FreeTaxUSA Security

FreeTaxUSA is an authorized IRS e-file provider. They encrypt your personal information on their site. In addition, they conduct security and privacy verifications through Truste, Norton, and SecurityMetrics.

Online Backup and Account Rollover

FreeTaxUSA will back up your completed returns online, even with the free version. The free version will also automatically carry last year’s information over to your current year’s taxes if you use the software two years in a row.

Even if you didn’t file with FreeTaxUSA last year, you may be able to import some of your tax information from another service. This year, the software rolled out a new feature that allows for a PDF import of your prior year’s tax returns.

I tried the PDF import option when checking out this year’s software. It was simple to use and smoothly uploaded my personal information and previous employer information. This definitely saves some time.

Cheap State Returns

As with many tax preparation software services, you’ll have to pay extra to e-file your state tax return. This isn’t uncommon. But the price of filing state returns with FreeTaxUSA is relatively low. You’ll only have to pay $14.99 to file your state returns based on your federal tax return information and additional information you provide this year.

Interface and Ease of Use

The interface for FreeTaxUSA is less fancy than that of some other, more expensive softwares. It has the same basic features, though, including a tracker for your estimated refund as you go and tabs for the various portions of your return.

2019 edition

Unlike with some other software options, FreeTaxUSA won’t allow you to bounce ahead of the process. You’ll have to go in order, though once you enter some information in a section, you can go back to a previous section to make changes or additions. Notice from the screenshot above, I cannot select anything other than “Personal” until that section is completed.

This isn’t a big deal as long as you plan to file your taxes all at once. If you’re like me, though, you may prefer to put in each form as you receive it. You’d have a much harder time doing this efficiently with FreeTaxUSA. But at least you wouldn’t miss any sections on your taxes.


FreeTaxUSA Disadvantages

FreeTaxUSA does not advertise itself as being all things to all people. Here is a list of the tax situations that they don’t support, taken directly from their website:

  • Foreign employment income (Form 2555)
  • Nonresident alien returns (Form 1040NR)
  • Customers or preparers living outside the United States when they file their taxes
  • At-risk limitations (Form 6198)
  • Archer MSAs (Form 8853)
  • Casualty or theft gain or loss for business or income producing property
  • Donations of high value property over $5,000 such as collectibles, equipment, or real estate*

For what it’s worth, I give the company a lot of credit for publishing a list of the tax situations that they don’t support.

Limited Customer Support

With the free version of this software, you can email support, or get your question answered in the online forum. If you upgrade to the Deluxe version, you’ll get access to online chat support.

Pay to Amend

Many of FreeTaxUSA’s additional services cost extra, though the costs are small. You’ll have to pay extra to correct a mistake or omission on your tax return if you go through the Free version. In fact, you’ll have to pay $14.99 for unlimited amendments if you file using the Free version. However, if you filed originally under the Deluxe version, you’ll get unlimited amendments for free.

Pros and Cons


  • Free Federal / Cheap State Returns
  • Audit Assist Available
  • Quick and Easy Software


  • Not All Tax Situations Available
  • Limited Customer Service Options

Resource: What to Do If You Make a Mistake on Your Taxes

FreeTaxUSA Pricing

FreeTaxUSA comes in two editions, Free and Deluxe:

Free Edition

Like the free version of just about any service, “free” has its limits, even with FreeTaxUSA. Free extends to the following services:

  • Federal Tax Return
  • E-file Service
  • Account Information Roll Over
  • Printing of Tax Return
  • Online Backup of Completed Returns
  • Complex Tax Filing
  • Federal Tax Extension

There are, however, charges for certain functions. To start, there is a $14.99 charge for state filing and preparation. There is no additional charge for state e-filing, but the $14.99 fee is per state, so you can multiply that charge by the number of states you need to file taxes in.

Some other services that come with a fee on the free version:

  1. Amended Tax Return – $14.99
  2. Professionally Printed Tax Return -$6.99
  3. Printed & Bound Tax Return – $12.99

We can presume that the last two features might be desirable if you needed to present your tax returns for business or borrowing purposes. But it’s unlikely that they are anything you’d need to have in the normal course.

Related: The Most Common Tax Deductions–What You Need to Know

One more thing: the Audit Assist function is only available on the Deluxe Edition. If your return is fairly simple and straightforward, this feature may not be necessary. But if there is a reasonable likelihood of facing an audit, you may do well to spring for the extra $6.99 and trade up to the Deluxe Edition. (Though given the limited scope of this service, I’d take it a step farther and say that you’ll be better off with a different online service entirely if this is the case.)

Deluxe Edition


The base price of the Deluxe Edition is $6.99, and it includes all of the services of the Free Edition, plus a few more. And just as is the case with the Free Edition, there is a charge of $14.99 per state return.

The Amended Tax Return–which you have to pay extra for with the Free Edition–is included in the Deluxe Edition. The Audit Assist feature and priority customer support are also included in the base fee with the Deluxe Edition.

Other than the per state charge, the only additional fees on the Deluxe Edition are the Professionally Printed Tax Return ($6.99) and the Printed & Bound Tax Return ($12.99) features. And again, you’ll probably only want these for presentation purposes, but probably don’t need them at all.

While the idea of getting tax software for free is always appealing, you’ll still be looking at a cost of $14.99 for the Free Edition if you have to file taxes in your state. The Deluxe Edition base price is only $6.99, and it includes the services you’d have to pay extra for with the Free Edition.

With a difference of just $6.99–which is more than reasonable for the services provided–I think you’d be much better off paying for the Deluxe Edition. That way, you can avoid add-ons for other services you may want or need.

Note: Prices are up-to-date as of April 29, 2020.

Bottom Line

Overall, FreeTaxUSA is a decent online tax preparation software package, and the price is certainly one of the best in the field. Just be aware of the program’s limitations, such as the lack of phone support, the limited nature of audit assistance, and the tax situations that it doesn’t support.

Author Bio

Total Articles: 1081
Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.
Article comments
Dan says:

Turbo Tax also has its limitations that exceeds that of Free Tax USA. For starters, I was on the phone for over 3 hours one day and 2 the next day regarding their computation of my taxable income. They were at an impasse and basically told me to seek a professional service to file my taxes since their software program could not support my filing. I am retired and separated from my wife and at no time did we live together in 2015. Unlike Free Tax USA, they did not ask if I had lived with my wife during that time and, as a result, the $25,000 was not applied to my Social Security Benefits Worksheet. That was the only hold up in getting my taxes filed correctly. Had I not challenged them and switched to Free Tax USA, I would have ended up paying $3,600 vs $461 on my federal tax returns and over $500 for State vs $276. Free Tax USA computations matched mine to the penny.

valerie says:

let me tell you that this is the hardest site to get to, understand AND use. I still do not know how to get to the part to print my taxes for 2014. even after I I sent my taxes I couldn’t figure out how. I need a copy of them and I still can’t figure out how to get them.

A. Damascus says:

FreeTaxUSA provides for access to prior year returns, both federal and state at the very bottom of the page on their website. You have the option to display the return or download it, of which either may be printed. If you can”t find it, don’t get frustrated, just contact customer support and tell them what you want, they will respond quickly with an answer. “Live chat” is excellent for answers immediately. I have used FreeTaxUSA every year since 2010. A few things had me stumped along the way, but once you understand their process, it is relatively easy. Just ask customer support, save yourself.

Roger Svensson says:

Do they allow downloading of tax info from my Vanguard brokerage acct. ?
or do I have to manually type in each buy & sell stock & bond transaction ?

Jim S says:

You can’t download vanguard info. Don’t think vanguard offers that service. But inputting that info is really simple. Take it right off your 1099’s.

rusty fender says:

no it’s not simple, Turbo Tax will import it from your brokerage.

Jonathan says:

What about the option for direct deposit? How much is that if it’s even an option?

Chris says:

Yes, you can get direct deposit – no charge for that/

Elanor says:

Some of you people deserve H&R Block. Of course there’s direct deposit.

Billius says:

After many years of switching between H&R Block and TurboTax (depending on who was cheaper at the time), I’ve been working on my tax return with FreeTaxUSA this year. Rob is correct that the features are a little sparse, but if you have a decent grasp of your task situation you should manage fine. I also agree that you may as well upgrade to the deluxe version, given the price point. For $20 all told I’m more than happy with the service and plan on using it again in the future.

Brady says:

I’ve been using Freetaxusa for several years now too and am very happy with it… I have a fairly simple tax situation and though I’m no pro, I do have a “grasp on the task at hand”… This may not be the beat for those that are too intimidated to do their own taxes, and might not be so great for complex situations, but for the simple man this is perfect.

Beetledust says:

Free tax USA is legit the best way to understand and file your taxes simple and easy and cost efficient if you don’t use it you lose it your money that is tax free USA will definitely make your day this my p.s.a.

Michelle 11 year customer says:

After using FreeTaxUSA for since 2006, I have never had a problem until this past year. The use of their soft is easy to use, but BEWARE to read every question thoroughly! Because if you file your taxes incorrectly your basically on your own if your check off the wrong box or enter the wrong information. This I found out the hard way after getting a bill from the state from 2014 taxes, from an error placed in the wrong line on the form by the TaxHawk software FreeTaxUSA. Yes, I now see where the error was made, but now I also had to pay an additional penalty and interest from the mistake from 2014. Also, beware when using this website when filing your taxes, don’t think you will get any customer support, other than an emailed response from ‘Mary” from who knows where. With FreeTaxUSA you get what you pay for! If you have anything beyond the BASIC taxes, choose a different website or go see a real tax person who can actually talk to.

Rancher says:

May I download the tax forms then efile when complete?

Ken says:

Just got done filing with free tax usa. As simple as any other option I’ve used. Skipped the state return because my state offers free online filing directly through their website. I went ahead and paid for the deluxe version just cause I wanted to pay them something for their service. 7 bucks and my taxes are filed. Full 1040 too, awesome!

William Brown says:

Me and my wife both live in Kentucky but work across the Ohio River in Indiana. Can freetaxusa handle that

Rob Berger says:

I don’t see why not.

Vonzella says:

Go through TurboTax

JanB says:

Is there a way to have the business use of home for one partner entered on Schedule E where it belongs?

Christian C Onwumere says:


Steve says:

I am getting all kinds of conflicting feedback from Free Tax USA. They can’t pull up a old filing, they told me my 2016 federal was rejected when I have the email from them saying it was accepted.

marc says:

This software has serious integrity issues. I received an audit from state and upon looking deep, I found that it was the result of this software incorrectly using an incorrect amount. I was hugely penalized from nj state along with 3 years of interest owed for understatement.
Their audit assistance is also a sham, they simply tell you what the issue is, which anyone with basic education would understand from the audit report.
They did not take any responsibility for the calculation error despite my clearly telling them what the issue is.
I would not recommend this software to anyone for tax filing, they are not free first of all; you have to pay for audit assistance which is useless when reality hits and more importantly, there are calculation errors, which will land you into trouble.

for 2018 I am switching to another software, atleast there is a peace of mind.

Sylvia says:

I just used FreeTaxUSA for self-employed and I am impressed! It was so easy and quick compared to TurboTax or TaxAct. And less than $15 (only charged to file for state) with free e-file and direct deposit. I’m very happy, because TaxAct was going to charge me over $100 this year which seemed insane!

REGINA says:

even tho the number is different then what u enter it will go to the correct account I thought so too but that is how they convert your entry. I been using them for about 8 years and I seen that too but it end up being the correct account number

Rebecca James says:

I m highly disappointed with this site. Not only do I recommend anyone to use this site, but I encourage those who are thinking about using the site to spread the word! I filed on this past Friday and noticed that my routing number and account number (that I personally enter myself) seemed to be changed while view my documents. I thank the Lord that I ALWAYS view/screenshot important documents doing whatever. This site is a complete ripoff and I will be reporting. There is no contact number to call if you have any questions (which was a 🚩 but I didn’t think anything of it) they only want you to text through the Internet. Again, I would not recommend.

Matt says:

No no . they put that fake number there for security reasons. Go thru everything again, its still the same . i thought the same . do some digging dont jumo to conclusions

Shavon moody says:

I put my direct deposit info and go to look at it before submit and theirs another account number their!!!! What’s up with that? Am I missing something

Regina says:

i use it all the time even thou the number is not what you put in I had the same question last year it will end up being your account. I use the fo
r the last 6 years for people

REGINA says:

even tho the number is different then what u enter it will go to the correct account I thought so too but that is how they convert your entry. I been using them for about 8 years and I seen that too but it end up being the correct account number

Michael Johnson says:

This is the easiest sight to get on and use. I had no problems with account number or anything. Also I wasn’t charged anything for filing my state return.

Michael Johnson says:

This is the easiest sight to get on and use. I had no problems with account number or anything. Also I wasn’t charged anything for filing my state return.

Samuel S Hernandez says:

FreeTaxUSA in not for free. They will take your money and maybe you’ll get the services. Be careful, other places should be considered. Check out my Federal Trade Commission complaint and every credit agency.

Dan says:

This works well. I’ve been using a CPA for the past 4 years but decided to try Free Tax USA. I did my own forms and was able to view them before submitting. I compared my CPA’s 1040 (and accompanying documents) to FreeTax USA and they are very close. There is a difference between 2017 and 2018 Forms and what not, but my numbers matched.

Nina says:

I was charged 2x using this service. My returns have never taken this long to receive my returns. I will never use this service again.

M Newman says:

Did our taxes online with freetaxusa. Very easy. They even electronically filed them for us. I didn’t have checking account so I got a check in the mailed 17 days after filing. Great service. Would highly recommend.

Derrick Cap says:

Website crashed & down for maintenance most of the evening April 15, 2019. I spent almost 2 hours with itemizing etc and now have to go to another company or redo them by hand. What a waste of time!!!

Knp says:

This site was actually going pretty well. A few too many questions for my taste, but at least thorough. Then while trying to e-file I kept getting kicked out. Finally a message came up that they were doing scheduled maintenance and the site would be up shortly. This was at 5pm PST on April 15, and at 7:10 still not working. If I hadn’t already paid for the state return, I would go to another site. It seems to me either their site crashed or they shouldn’t be in the tax business if they are doing scheduled maintenance on April 15. Either way it’s shady if they are not telling the truth or extremely bad practice if it is scheduled!!

Manny Lopez says:

This service is crap. Almost done with my return, but because their system has been down due to what they describe as scheduled maintainence and upgrades on April 15, I’ve been waiting more than five hours to finish my return.

Jerrold Mcgeachy says:

DO NOT USE THIS COMPANY!!! there web site crashed on the 15th they will not pay the irs or state with a credit or debit card you have to go through a third party to pay and then they charge you for doing this I NEVER had so much problems with filing before

Jeanne Brady says:

I thought I was filing with Free Tax USA but then I was charged $79.90 by I didn’t even need to file since my income is so low but I was in a new situation this year. I am appealing the charge to my credit card company. It seems like a bait and switch scheme to me.

Stormy says:

Do not use this software. I just got a letter from Oregon Department of Revenue levying interest on a tax underpayment because the software calculated the tax incorrectly. Despite FreetaxUSA’s claim that “Like other online tax preparation software programs, FreeTaxUSA guarantees the accuracy of their tax calculations. They will pay the interest and penalties if you?re assessed any by the IRS due to a calculation error in their software.” customer service is giving me the run around and telling me I should have let the state calculate the interest penalty. Which is totally inaccurate since for Federal Filing there was a form to fill out and it calculated the penalty and I paid it with the rest of the taxes. So the calculation was correct for federal but not state. Will not be using this next year.

share tips says:

ust got done filing with free tax usa. As simple as any other option I’ve used. Skipped the state return because my state offers free online filing directly through their website