Is TurboTax Free? (Federal + State) How “Free” Really Works • 2019

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TurboTax is the number one best-selling tax software in America, and you’ve no doubt seen their advertising for “Absolute Zero” just about everywhere during tax season.

The ads infer that you can file your taxes for, “zip, zilch, and nada,” but will TurboTax really be free for you?

Actually, it seems that most taxpayers don’t qualify for the TurboTax Free Edition, and end up having to pay to upgrade to a premium edition. Others expecting free state efile are surprised to learn that they missed the March “TurboTax free state” deadline.

OK, to answer whether TurboTax will be free for you, let’s ask the following questions:

Who Qualifies for the Free Edition? | TurboTax Free Edition features | Can you efile your State taxes for free? | When “free” is not a good option | Not free? How to get the best price

TurboTax Free Edition: Who Qualifies? 

free turbotax guys
*Should you take tax advice from a naked man?

‘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.

TurboTax Free Edition Requirements:

  1. Your annual income (AGI) must be less than $100,000* which is also the IRS’s maximum income to file using 1040EZ
  2. You must not own rental property or a home. If you want to take advantage of property-related deductions like the mortgage interest deduction or property tax deduction, you’ll need to upgrade to at least the Deluxe Edition.
  3. You must not have sold investments like stocks and bonds. If you need to report capital gains or investment losses, you are better off upgrading
  4. You can’t have a health savings account to use the Free Edition
  5. You must not have unreported tip income in the Free Edition
  6. If you work for yourself the free Edition does not have the forms that you’ll need
  7. You can’t itemize your tax deductions with the Free Edition. This includes medical expenses, charitable donations, and job-related expenses

These Free Edition requirements, especially the maximum income limit, are usually not mentioned in the copious ads for “TurboTax Free / Absolute Zero” that you’ll see everywhere during tax season. That means a lot of taxpayers start using the Free Edition and end up frustrated after having to upgrade to their Deluxe Edition for an unexpected expense of about $40.

Do You Qualify for the Free TurboTax Edition?

If you believe that the TurboTax Free Edition is best for you, congratulations! You can click below to get started:

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free state federal turbotax
Do you qualify for TurboTax Free?

If you still want to learn more about how the Free edition works, let’s take a closer look at the features:

TurboTax Free Edition Features: (Absolute Zero)

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*Should you use the “free edition?” Click to find out!

Well, TurboTax is really free for some people, so how does “Free” work? The Free online Edition of TurboTax asks you a number of simple questions about your life so that they can customize the Free Edition experience to meet your needs.

This means that you’ll get the deductions you deserve, and the maximum possible refund without having to click through irrelevant forms and questions. They also save your work as you go, so file at your own pace and don’t fret about losing all of your progress.

Here are some highlights of the TuroTax Free Edition:

  • Free tax filing: Free filing of Federal return
  • Answers: 24/7 support from an online community of customers and specialists
  • Always Evolving: TurboTax Free Edition is up to date with all of this year’s tax law changes.
  • Find Tax Credits: Do you have dependents? The Free Edition shows you who qualifies as a dependent, plus find tax credits like the Child & Dependent Care Credit, Earned Income Credit, and child tax credit.
  • W2’s are a Snap: Upload a photo of your W-2 from your phone
  • CompleteCheck™ runs a comprehensive review of your tax return before you file.
  • Easy Import: It’s not important whether you used TurboTax to file your taxes last year. The Free Edition quickly imports previously filed taxes including PDFs of prior years’ tax returns filed through other software, like H&R Block. (if applicable)
  • Fast State file: Once you finish your federal taxes, TurboTax transfers your info to quickly complete and file your state taxes. File state taxes free before March 15th!
  • Fast tax refund: E-file your federal and state taxes with direct deposit to get your fastest possible refund

Lastly, you’ll sleep better knowing that your information is safe with the Free Edition, as they go to extreme lengths to safeguard all of your information during every step of the TurboTax free filing process.

There’s more than one way to file for free with TurboTax. Here are some other ways:

TurboTax: Free State File?

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Can you file your State return for free? Yes, but only If you beat the deadline!

If you’re asking “is TurboTax Free,” you might also ask, “how long is TurboTax free?”

The answer is that state efile is available early in the tax season, but the deadline to file State for free is March 15th. Although qualifying taxpayers can file their federal taxes free with TurboTax at anytime, you’ll need to be punctual to file State free. If you submit your tax return after March 15th, expect to pay a $39.99 State filing fee. (per state)

Is there a coupon or service code for free state file? No, after March 15th there is no way to avoid the state filing fee, and no coupons will waive the state filing fee.

Free Federal and State eFile?

Believe it or not, some people prepare and submit their federal and state taxes without paying a dime. Here are several ways that you can file your State and Federal taxes free with TurboTax:

  1. File early: If you have simple (1040EZ) taxes, you may be eligible for “Absolute Zero” with free Federal and State efile early in the tax season. The deadline to file your federal and state taxes for free is March 15th
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. Students: Students who qualify may also be able to file their federal and State taxes for free. View
  5. Group / Client Discount: It’s possible to get a premium edition of TurboTax for free through certain groups or financial institutions like Bank of America or Vanguard who may offer free TurboTax Editions to their clients. Learn more.

Why You Should Not Choose TurboTax’s Free Edition

free lunch tomorrow

As mentioned, their free version is only best for people with simple 1040EZ tax returns who meet the qualifications listed above. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to choose one of their premium editions, as the extra features, guidance, and potential for extra deductions are a good investment.

Even if you qualify for the Free Edition, you should still 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 and happily file with 1040EZ, 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.

By saving $50 or so with the Free Edition you may be missing out on hundreds of dollars (or more) in deductions. If you are forced to upgrade or believe a premium edition of TurboTax is a better option you can still get a great discount.

Getting the Best Price (When TurboTax Is Not Free)

If your taxes are not simple, you’ll probably have to pay for a version like Deluxe, Premier, or Home & Business.

If you do have to pay, (like most of us) at least you can get the best price by using a coupon.

Hey, maybe it’s not “free,” but it’s something. Besides, maybe you don’t qualify for the Free Edition because your income is too high or you own a house. Those are good problems to have!

In the meantime, checkout today’s coupons to save up to $20 or more at

The Verdict: So, Is TurboTax Really Free?

OK, is TurboTax free?

They say that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that death and taxes are unavoidable. Ironically that’s the case for most taxpayers who file with TurboTax Absolute Zero, as it’s usually not free.

Consider that TurboTax Free Edition only ends up being “free” for a minority of taxpayers who meet the eligibility requirements. Also, you’ll have to file before the March 15th deadline to file your State taxes for free.

That means that out of the millions of people who file their taxes each year with TurboTax, only a relatively small percentage of customers will complete their federal and state returns by paying, “zip, zilch, or nada!”

To see if the Free Edition will work for you, click below:

Taxes are FUN! Weeeee!

Related: TurboTax has a great free tax refund calculator / estimator

About kevin

Hi, I'm Kevin McCormick. I graduated from Rutgers U., and now live in Philadelphia with my wife, three kids, and a dog. I enjoy blogging in my free time, especially about finance and the history of taxation. Thanks for stopping by Mighty Taxes!