Free Taxes: 8 Ways to File Your Tax Return for Free

If you haven't filed your 2021 tax return yet, you're almost out of time -- the deadline is Monday, April 18. The good news is that you still have several options that let you do it for free. 

Along with free government programs for low-income taxpayers and English-language learners, several commercial online tax software programs will let you file your federal tax return at no cost at all.

Be warned that some tax software may lure you in with free offers and then try to sell you higher tiers of service.

Before selecting any "free" tax-prep service and starting your tax return, make sure your tax situation won't require you to upgrade to a paid product.

Cash App Taxes -- CNET's pick for best free tax software in 2022 -- doesn't include any paid upgrades and is applicable for a large majority of US taxpayers, but it's not the only option. 

Read on to learn about the best ways to file your taxes for free, including official services from the IRS and top-notch free software from commercial publishers.

For more, learn about this year's biggest tax changes, get important tips on doing your taxes by phone and discover the best tax software for 2022

The IRS partners with tax companies to provide its Free File Program, which offers free tax software to Americans whose adjusted gross income (AGI) is $73,000 or less. If you meet the AGI requirement, you can select one of eight commercial software programs (including TaxAct and TaxSlayer, which are on our list of best tax software for 2022) to guide you through filing a federal tax return.

The catch? Not all state returns are free. Each offer specifically lists which states are included in its Free File product; be sure to carefully review each product's state list before choosing.

If your AGI is greater than $73,000, you can file for free with the IRS using its Free File Fillable Forms, but they don't include free state return options and there's no guided assistance. You'll need to manually check the math, and you can't make changes once your return is accepted.

The IRS also offers free tax preparation services for those most in need: The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program helps filers who make less than $57,000, those with disabilities or those who speak limited English. The volunteers are IRS-certified and supply basic income tax return prep.

Tax Counseling for the Elderly assists those who are 60 and older with specific advice on retirement-related concerns. Even those who are still working but nearing retirement might benefit from TCE services.

Debuting for the first time in 2022, Cash App Taxes (formerly Credit Karma Tax) allows you to file for free -- even if you're self-employed -- and we consider it the best free tax product available right now.

Cash App doesn't offer as much support as some professional software and doesn't include the ability to upload 1099 income forms, but if you don't need much hand-holding or have a simple return, it's a great option for filing a tax return for free.

Founded in 2001 as an original member of the Free File Alliance, FreeTaxUSA provides a strong option for filing your federal income taxes at no cost. 

The tax preparation software gives you one free federal return that includes all the IRS forms and schedules that most tax filers need. You'll need to pay $15 to file your state return, however.

A well-organized and efficient question-and-answer process will guide you through the process of completing your tax return. 

It doesn't include the polished interface and support features of top tax software like TurboTax or H&R Block, but FreeTaxUSA does a good job of providing contextual help and answers to common tax questions. It should work well for anyone looking to file taxes on the cheap.

Longtime in-person tax preparer H&R Block also offers a way to file your taxes for free online. H&R Block's Free Online product includes a federal tax return and one state return, all for no cost. 

However, it leaves out gig workers and freelancers as there's no support for 1099-NEC or 1099-MISC forms.

H&R Block Free Online does let you easily import tax documents from last year and includes a robust help center and online technical support. It offers access to a few tax deductions and credits, including the earned income tax credit, child tax credit and educational expenses. 

However, if you want to report income from stock sales, deduct business or child care expenses or claim deductions like mortgage interest, you'll need another tax service. The full list of IRS forms supported by Free Online can be found in this PDF list from H&R Block.

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