TurboTax is the number one best-selling tax software available to consumers. The several versions of their software are notable for their capacity to accommodate a variety of budgets, taxpayer needs, and timelines.
While filing taxes with their software usually involves filing fees, TurboTax does offer a Free Edition that enables certain taxpayers to file their federal taxes without spending a penny, including free state filing if you qualify or file early.
But will TurboTax really be free for you? The odds say “probably not,” but In this post, we’ll look closely at how “free” really works, and who may be eligible for filing without paying a dime. To answer that question, let’s answer the following questions:
- Who Qualifies for the Free Edition?
- Can you file State taxes for free?
- When “free” is not a good option
- Have to pay? How to get the best price online
TurboTax Free Edition: The Basics
‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now And this bird, you can not change…” Free Bird, Lynyrd Skynyrd
While Free Bird may be a great song, rock stars are definitely among the majority of taxpayers who don’t qualify for Turbo Tax’s Free Edition. The Free version is designed specifically for simple federal tax returns: i.e., those submitting 1040EZ or 1040A tax forms.
1040EZ and 1040A forms are the shortest and simplest federal individual income tax forms. In general, you can fill out one of these forms when filing your federal return if you meet the following requirements as a simple taxpayer:
- Your annual income for the previous year was less than $100,000*
- You do not own rental property or a home
- You have not sold investments
- You do not itemize your tax deductions
*This stipulation is a rather sneaky one. TurboTax does not advertise this income requirement prominently on its product selection page and many taxpayers may not be aware of what denotes a “simple” tax return.
Taxpayers who use the TurboTax Free Edition are entitled to:
- Free filing of Federal return
- 24/7 support from an online community of customers and specialists
- Upload photos of W-2s
- import PDFs of prior years’ tax returns filed through other providers (if applicable)
Lastly, TurboTax Free Edition filers have access to “Turbo,” a relatively new software addition that gives taxpayers accurate images of their holistic financial health, and audit support through Audit Support Guarantee.
TurboTax: 3 More Ways to File Free
It’s not just those with simple tax returns who may qualify to file free. Here are three other options for TurboTax free filing including:
- Military: Active duty men and women with ranks E1 – E5, for example, can file their federal and state taxes for free using TurboTax Free Edition or Online Edition. Veterans and active duty individuals are also eligible for select discounts on other premium TurboTax programs.
- Students may also be eligible for specific discounts and free filing rates, provided they meet certain stipulations.
- Low-income individuals meeting any of the following requirements can file their state and federal taxes for free using Freedom Edition, an IRS Free File Alliance (FFA) program.
*Check out the Freedom Edition if:
- Your prior year’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is $33,000 or less
- You qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
- You served as active duty military with a maximum AGI of $66,000 in the prior year
The Freedom Edition does not offer any upgrades, unlike other TurboTax programs. It is available here.
TurboTax: Free State File?
Can you avoid state fees? Sometimes. There are several ways to file state return for free including:
- File early: TurboTax offers free State efile for early tax filers, but for how long? The deadline is usually March 15th
- Absolute Zero: If you have simple (1040ez) tax return and file early, you can avoid both State and Federal fees with TurboTax Absolute Zero!
- Military: Service members with ranks of E-1 to E-5 can file their State and Federal taxes for free with the Free or Deluxe Edition. View
- Low Income: Individuals or families with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $33k per year may qualify for the TurboTax Freedom Edition, which includes free State & Federal efile
- Students: Students who qualify may also be able to file their State taxes for free. View
*If you don’t qualify for free state tax efile, expect to pay $39.99 per state return. (More about the cost here)
Free Federal and State eFile?
Why is TurboTax free? Besides the exceptions listed above, TurboTax Free Edition is really only “totally free” for simple taxpayers filing a federal tax return with their free version before the “early filer” promotion ends on March 15th.
If it is after March 15th, or you do not qualify for free filing based on your income or situation, expect to pay for TurboTax. To learn more, learn more about the free edition below:
TurboTax Free Edition – 2018
When Free Is Not a Good Idea
As mentioned, their free version is only best for people with simple tax returns or those who meet the qualifications listed above. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to choose one of their premium editions, as the extra features and guidance are worth the money.
If you’re on the fence about using their Free edition, consider the following:
- The average tax refund last year was over $2700
- A single missed tax deduction could cost you hundreds of dollars
- Their Deluxe version only costs $50+
Now, if you have simple taxes, these facts may be irrelevant. However, if your situation is a bit more complicated or have deductions, you might decide that it’s worth the money to pay for good software to file your taxes.
Getting the Best Price (When TurboTax Is Not Free!)
So, is free the best option? Maybe so, in which case you can start for free here: turbotax.intuit.com/free
Hey, maybe it’s not “free,” but when you use a coupon you’ll be getting a good deal, and sticking it to The Man!
The Verdict: Is TurboTax Really Free?
So, is TurboTax really free?
They say that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that’s the case for most taxpayers who file with TurboTax, and usually it’s not free.
TurboTax is only free for taxpayers who meet the eligibility requirements. ,
That means that out of the millions of people who file their taxes with TurboTax, only a small minority will complete their federal and state returns without paying.