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Join our community. Review – Free Online Tax Prep for 1040EZ Filers

At a Glance
3.5 / 5

Start Your Taxes Now

  • CPA Involvement: No; very limited support for complex tax situations.
  • Plans: Free Federal Edition, free for 1040EZ situations; Deluxe Edition, $19.49 to $25.99, for 1040A situations; Premium Edition, $34.49 to $45.99, for small-business owners and others with complex situations.
  • State Returns Included: No; $21 for each state return with all plans.
  • Pay With Your Refund: Yes; service fee may apply.
  • Audit Defense: Yes; optional representation for all plans at no additional charge.
  • Mobile Capabilities: Limited (mobile-responsive website). is a low-cost online tax preparation software company that made our list of the top free online tax preparation services. It offers free tax prep and filing for anyone who qualifies for a 1040EZ – most of whom can complete their returns in 15 minutes or less, according to is not to be confused with IRS e-file, which is the general process of filing your federal taxes online. Nor is it to be confused with, a nearly identically named competitor. (’s marketing emails remind URL-typers to remember the hyphen.) is merely one of many private companies authorized to e-file tax returns with the Federal Government. Its most popular competitors include established online tax prep companies such as TurboTaxH&R Block, and TaxAct, as well as newer, leaner upstarts such as Taxhub. Approach, Pricing & Plans is cheaper than full-service competitors such as TurboTax and H&R Block. However, it’s very much a DIY option, without nearly the level of customer support and user-friendliness as those two established companies. Price-wise, is a bit cheaper than TaxAct, though TaxAct has somewhat better customer support.

Considering that it’s affordable, fast, and fairly easy to use for anyone with experience preparing their own tax return, deserves a closer look from anyone concerned with the size of their tax prep bill. has a no-frills, stripped-down tax preparation interface that takes a hybrid interview/DIY approach.’s Approach

Each section (for example, “Income”) and subsection (for example, “Investments”) begins with a short interview that asks basic questions about your life situation. Based on your answers to each batch of questions, you’re shown a list of suggested forms and schedules.

If you’re confident that you know which forms and schedules to fill out without answering questions about your tax situation, you can skip right to the forms – a significant time-saver, as long as you know how to fill out the forms.

Accuracy Guarantee

Like many online tax software companies, has an accuracy guarantee that protects users against calculation errors caused by software glitches.

In prior tax years, the guarantee wasn’t very well advertised. In 2016, for example, I found it buried in a dense article about how works. The good news is that updated their website in 2017 or 2018 and now clearly advertises the accuracy guarantee, along with the sort of maximum refund guarantee that’s common among online tax prep providers.

Plan Options offers three plans. Of note: Each plan’s state return pricing is good for multiple state returns, no matter how many you need to file. This is an important point of distinction from most other tax prep services, which charge separate fees for each state return.

1. Free Federal Edition

  • Federal Return: Free
  • State Return: $21 with code “25OFF”

The Free Federal Edition is appropriate for single and joint filers without dependents or the need to file additional schedules – basically, anyone who can complete their taxes using Form 1040EZ only.

2. Deluxe Plus Edition

  • Federal Return: $19.49 (normally $25.99) with code “25OFF”
  • State: $21 with code “25OFF”

Deluxe is appropriate for single and joint filers with dependents, as well as anyone else who can complete their taxes using Form 1040A. Use code “25OFF” to get the promotional pricing.

3. Premium Edition

  • Federal Return: $34.49 (normally $45.99) with code “25OFF”
  • State: $21 with code “25OFF”

Premium is appropriate for people with moderately to very complex tax situations, including those with investment income, small-business income, and rental property income. Use code “25OFF” to capture the promotional pricing.

Key Features

All of’s plans come with the following features:

Prior-Year Return Importing From

If you filed your return with last year, you can import its information directly into your current-year return. However, you can’t import from other online tax prep services.

Filing Prior-Year Returns

If you failed to file a return for a prior tax year, you can use one of’s three plans to do so. There’s no additional charge for this service beyond the headline price of your chosen plan.

Note that you can only claim refunds going back three tax years. If you’re filing for an earlier year, you’ll forfeit any refund to which you may have been entitled.

Support Ticketing’s primary mode of customer support is an email-based ticketing system. To use it, you fill out a simple form on the website, provide written detail about your problem, and send it off to’s staff. The system typically produces an email response within one business day.

Audit Assistance offers an optional audit assistance add-on at no additional charge. If you opt in to audit assistance and the IRS subsequently audits your return, handles all communication with the IRS on your behalf and provides regular status updates.

Help Sidebar’s return interface has a help sidebar with basic information about the tax topics you’re working on and basic advice about how to proceed. As you move through each form, the sidebar automatically updates to reflect your position.

However, the advice is generally quite basic, and often not that helpful – for instance, when you mouse over an address field, the sidebar says something like, “Enter your home address,” or “Enter your business address.”

Pay With Your Refund lets you pay for your tax preparation fees with your tax refund, eliminating the need to provide your credit card information for an upfront payment. It provides this service through EPS Financial, a partner company. There is a $19 fee for choosing this payment method, subject to change.


Here’s what has going for it.

1. Very Competitive Pricing is cheaper than many competitors. In fact, it’s one of the very few tax prep programs that’s grown cheaper over time. The Deluxe Plus plan’s price dropped by more than 25% from 2017 to 2019, for instance, though it’s increased slightly since.

The Free Federal Edition is available to any filer who qualifies to use Form 1040EZ, and the two higher-priced versions are fairly cheap as well: $19.49 (regularly $24.99) for Deluxe Plus and $34.49 (regularly $45.99) for Premium. That’s about half the cost of comparable plans from H&R Block, and as little as one-third the cost of comparable plans from TurboTax.

2. Simple, No-Frills Approach’s tax prep interface is stripped down and straightforward, with lots of white space and few extraneous features. The preparation process itself is also simple and straightforward. The software uses fewer questions than most competitors, so you don’t have to click through a ton of screens or answer lots of redundant questions at the start of each section.

If you know which forms and schedules you need to fill out (and how to complete them), you’re likely to complete your return much more quickly than an identical return prepared on TurboTax and TaxAct, both of which are significantly more labor-intensive.

3. You Can Pay With Your Refund

You can pay your tax prep fees with your anticipated tax refund if you’re eligible to receive one. This is a nice perk for those who might not want to (or otherwise cannot) pay upfront.

4. Tight Security Practices has above-average security, at least from the user’s perspective. The account and password requirements are stricter than many competitors’. I actually wasn’t able to use my default tax prep software username to create an account because it didn’t have enough characters, and I had to cycle through several attempts to create a random password. Also, times out after approximately 10 minutes.


Consider these drawbacks before opening an account with

1. No Free State Returns

Budget-friendly branding aside, doesn’t offer a 100% free filing option for customers who have to file state taxes, even if they qualify for the free federal deal. If you have a simple tax situation and live in a state without state income taxes, such as Nevada or Florida, you can use for free. But the majority of users must pay $19 to file state taxes.

The silver lining: If you earned income in more than one state, at least you don’t have to pay for multiple state returns.

2. Very Limited Customer Support’s customer support infrastructure is very limited. There’s no way to get in touch with staff by phone, and the only means of contacting a human helper at all is to fill out a rather basic support ticket.

At multiple points during the ticketing process, directs users to specific FAQs or knowledge base topics, not-so-subtly discouraging human contact. And, on the ticketing system’s initial intake form, advises customers to contact the IRS (a phone number is provided) with “specific questions.”

Most larger competitors, including TurboTax, H&R Block, and Jackson Hewitt Online, have human phone support (and, in H&R Block’s and Jackson Hewitt’s cases, in-person staff members) available to handle customer service issues. FreeTaxUSA, an even cheaper discount tax prep option, has a live chat plus email ticketing.

3. Perfunctory Help System

In addition to a lack of human customer support, has a mediocre-at-best onsite help system. Its knowledge base isn’t as comprehensive as TurboTax’s, nor does it have a user-generated question-and-answer component (which is often more helpful than canned FAQs or topics written by the tax prep company’s staff).

Though the articles in its knowledge base generally cover common topics and questions, they’re often long-winded and circuitous. I question their writers’ collective expertise.

Outside the knowledge base,’s help content is sometimes thin and confusing. For instance, when I was in a prior year asked whether I wanted to file separately or jointly with my spouse, I clicked the “Help Me Decide” button and got a one-sentence answer – “Couples often choose this option if they have a sizable difference in income” – with no context or further explanation to help me weigh the pros and cons of each option.

4. Little to No Guidance for Complex Situations is not ideal for filers with complex tax situations unless they’re confident they can fill out the requisite forms and schedules accurately. That’s because provides very little guidance during the preparation process, either in the form of guided questions or a help sidebar.

Instead, the software asks you a series of basic questions (“Do you own a home?” “Did you pay interest on a mortgage?” “Did you pay property taxes?”) and, using your responses, provides a list of forms to fill out. You fill out the forms field by field, just as you would if you were using pen and paper, with no questions or explanations to keep you within the rails.

Though the help sidebar offers one-sentence explanations of most form fields, they’re usually self-evident: “Enter your full name,” “Enter your home address.”

This lack of guidance is a pretty big oversight, as just about every other DIY online tax prep system I’ve used has at least some support for complex situations (either in question or help topic form).

5. No Importing Capabilities

You can’t import prior-year returns from other online tax prep services. You also can’t import tax-related files from third parties, such as 1099 statements from your brokerage.

The lack of importing from other tax prep services is a hassle for anyone who has filed a tax return in the past, and the lack of 1099 importing is a big time-waster for anyone who actively trades securities.

6. Quirky Interface’s tax prep interface is pretty basic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the system lacks superfluous colors and content that might distract or confuse some users. However, it does have some strange quirks that can affect – and in some cases impede – the user experience.

For example, when you’re asked to select your birth date and click in the appropriate text field, a little month-by-month calendar pops up – similar to the calendars on online travel booking platforms. But the calendar defaults to the current year, which is absurd (infants don’t file their own taxes). There’s a small drop-down menu that lets you adjust the year and eventually select the correct date, but it’s not displayed very prominently and takes a second or two to find.

7. Free Version Is Very Limited’s free version is intended for very simple tax situations only. If your taxes are too complicated to complete using Form 1040EZ, you need to upgrade to Deluxe Plus at least. H&R Block’s free version can handle significantly more complex situations, including those involving itemized deductions.

Final Word

Unlike better-known competitors such as TurboTax and H&R Block, is a relatively new online tax prep service without name recognition or much of an established reputation. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as new companies are often able to offer service quality or overall value that established companies can’t match.

On the other hand, new companies also tend to have fewer resources to handle unforeseen problems or address customer concerns as they arise. Many of’s drawbacks, particularly its noticeable lack of support resources, can ultimately be traced back to its lean structure and newcomer status.

The good news is that these problems are fixable. As gains traction in the marketplace, it’s likely to grow and mature. But it can’t get to that point without buy-in from early adopters in search of cheap, accurate online tax preparation services.

For more options, check out our full list of Top-Rated Free Online Tax Preparation Services.

3.5 / 5

Start Your Taxes Now is affordable and simple. However, it lacks all but the most basic support and doesn’t offer an accuracy or maximum refund guarantee. For experienced DIY tax preppers who either don’t have super-complicated situations or have enough tax knowledge to get through their returns on their own, the lack of support isn’t a deal-breaker. But less-experienced filers – particularly those who need to file multiple schedules – should think twice. There are plenty more user-friendly and supportive alternatives out there.

Affordable pricing, a straightforward interface, a quick preparation process, and the ability to pay with your refund are all nice. A lack of guarantees, limited onsite support, virtually nonexistent human support, and strange website quirks all hurt. Overall, is fine for experienced filers who know what they’re doing and want to finish in a hurry (assuming they don’t have tons of securities transactions to enter), but it’s not a great choice for everyone else.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

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