Recommendations for the best AND cheapest online tax preparation site ??

We've used for a couple of years & also checked out & .

Trouble is - the ones which up front claim to be free - aren't.

Esmarttax starts out with low charges, but when you do the most minimal simple stuff (no owned properties or investments...), then add state forms - suddenly it goes to $60-70.
Of course by then you are mostly done so they've got you hooked.

Would the good folks here kindly recommend what you use and possibly also say what they cost, please ??

(No desire to install any s/w for this BTW, as that is excessive to do for each year.)


The below site was recommended by a friend who used it and was pleased with it. I noticed the website says 2018, which is a bit odd that it hasn't been updated to 2019 yet. Anyway, might be worth a try.

"When we say 100% free online tax filing, we mean it! File federal and state taxes for free and pay nothing — zero, zip, zilch. We don’t even have a way to take a payment!

Unlike “the others,” we do not “bait and switch” or “upsell” you. No matter what tax forms you need, preparing and e-filing your tax return online with DIY Tax is 100% free!

As to the 2018 there - it may be that they quit because their big start button along with most all their links redirect to Liberty Tax - which ain't free a'tall...

Another one rides the bus ??

I should have noticed that snafu before posting. Free doesn't succeed for long, which we all should know by now.

Maybe this site has some useable info.

They all are supposed to be free if your income is under $69k for 2019. Problem is that is federal only and then they want to charge for state filing or as you note, add the wrong form and all of the sudden that form is not free. Some states have their own online free file set ups. Also, you can use fillable forms, print them, mail in.

Credit Karma is free regardless of income, state & federal, there is a long thread on slickdeals re their offering (that SD thread is worth a read if you can put up with the signal to noise ratio). No catches, either free or they don't support it.

Check with local united way / VITA / AARP etc. they offer free tax preparation services via in person appointments with volunteer preparers. In my area appointment booking opens up today, Jan 15. AFAIK they are currently using taxslayer software, at least in my area.

Good luck!!

From what I've seen so far, the Credit Karma is some s/w that needs to be installed on your system or other device.
Sadly, their site is not at all forthright about what they are offering - and:
Upon hitting the big button it pretends to sign one up UNTIL the email is given - then it demands LOTS more of very personal info WITHOUT telling the potential user even the tiniest scrap of info - so I'll pass on that, thanks.

We live in a rural area that puts us ~1 hour drive from most anything - we despise AARP & are not members, and this all is why I've asked about good online options here.

We can just use the esmart site again & pay their heavy 'taxes' for the little that we need if nothing better is around anymore...?

Had a look at that site - Thanks Isamorph !!
They are sneaky buggers too - their links look like review links but are cloaked affiliate links instead...woof.

Anyhow, it begins to look like the best deal is via with their state e-filing for only 12.95 .

Not in a huge rush here & maybe someone willchime in yet with something even better ??


Look again.
Credit Karma does not need to be downloaded / installed. They do ask for more info. than strictly needed for filing, they fully disclose all of this if you bother to read around the FAQ. If it is free you are the product does apply to some degree here but as I said a read through of the SD thread compares CK sharing/marketing vs. others like h&r and turbo which are more cloaked and in some aspects more draconian in invasion and sharing permissions you are consenting to.

AARP is just one of the organizations facilitating VITA program, if you decide to drive (combine with a night out?) you may still want to check it out. You don't need to be a member of any organization to use this program.

Seems you may be best off just using fillable forms and USPS.

Don't wait to the last few weeks, most of the programs jump their prices or go from free state file to paid. CK doesn't do that.

The article linked to pretty much covers what is out there for 2019 taxes. They don't mention the AARP/United Way/VITA program because there is no refferral $ in it for them. The IRS link covers the free file program participants.

Once again
Good luck!

Thanks Redrotors.
Your persistence is admirable - but neither do I wish to navigate CK nor the immense SD thread about it - and NO - we are not doing the USPS thing when for a mere 12.95 we can e-file.

If you have some other & simpler suggestion that'll be great - but the 10 minutes I spent on your prior info is now done & over with, thanks.

Using most of these online things I can do the entire process in ~30 minutes tops - with great care & making sure that all is just right - and that is worth the ~$13 vs. using the USPS, etc...

If that is the case then you and I probably have spent WAY more time on this than needed. :wink:
Hopefully some others will find it useful.

I am curious though, if you can do it on line in 30 min. with much care how much longer do you think fillable forms would take?

I still use fillable forms to issue K-1's and it is faster than any (paid) program I have used.

From SD -

[i]If you make less than $66,000 in Adjusted Gross Income you qualify for free tax preparation (looks like it's going to be $69,000 for the 2019 tax year).

The non-profit The United Way offers free tax preparation using H&R Block Deluxe. This allows you to file your Federal returns and create up to 3 state returns for free. The Deluxe version is a step up from H&R Block's most basic "free" offering. Check it out here:

Note: While you can produce your state return for free, you may not be able to e-file for free. If that is the case, you can certainly print and mail your return for the cost of postage. Many states also offer their own free e-file solutions. Here is some info on which states offer free e-filing:

Different H&R block versions for reference:

Forms supported by the Deluxe edition:

If for some reason you'd prefer not to use the United Way/H&R Block, the IRS has a list of free tax preparation websites here:

If you need more assistance the IRS makes volunteers available to assist people in doing their returns through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, and they offer assistance to older adults through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program. Find a location near you here:

Many city and county office also have free tax preparation available to citizens at libraries and government offices throughout tax season. Check your local government website.

Additional resources:
What is adjusted gross income?

Contact your local IRS office or make an appointment for in-person help.

The AARP offers assistance to low and moderate income individuals with no age limit. Get info here:[/i]

I recommend credit karma. I've used them for 3 years now and get free federal and state tax filing. I have yet to come across a form that isn't included for free (sch e, k, etc) that I needed. They have improved the process materially since the first year and actually prefer it to TurboTax and HR Block. I realize there is a tradeoff I'm making (data), but I've accepted that tradeoff.

Your post got me thinking about how much personal information we are giving the companies when we do our taxes online. Are there any safeguards against all our most private data being sold /hacked?
How is it different when companies who charge low or no fees ask us for personal information, but yet by the very act of filing our taxes online we are giving these companies access to very detailed private information?

Some nice useful information in this thread. Fortunately for me, my wife does our taxes for free and prefers to do it by hand and brain. We've never filed electronically, have never been audited, have never paid anyone, and my wife enjoys finding the hidden treasures within the tax codes. My only complaint is the relatively small cost of mailing the forms via certified mail. As @als touched upon, is certified mail more or less secure than filing online?

They no longer give you the premium version for free unfortunately. They really ought to update the website. HR block do a free watered down version but it isn't as good as this used to be. But maybe the free version will work for you. Be prepared for the usual pay extra if you need this form or that one etc. If you go through the myfreetaxes site you do get a discount up to 50% off standard upgrades so if you do use hr block it could still be worth going via this site.

I used to do mine by hand but my state forced me to file electronically to collect a certain credit. Freefilefillable forms is great for diy. It is the best way to learn and understand your taxes. But yes you have to be confident you know what you are doing.

I see numbers like 60K or so and wonder what it must be like to have such a flow;
We 3 (me, the ms. and our doggie gal) live on ~30K and do OK with our ancient cars & tiny living space.

As to the tx question - when it is time the whole thing requires very little filling in and this is why we stayed with e-smart for a couple of years - easy-peasy...just click here, all the prior info is stuck in already - answer a few questions, click a few boxes - pay their ransom - all done.

If we had more things to be concerned with I might be willing to make it more of an occupation - but as it is - I'll settle for cheap & simple.

Maybe willing to give HRB our info - or maybe just get that other deal for the $13 - maybe another cheapie will even import from esmarttax...or not.

It can get done any minute now because I already have all the stuff needed in hand.

Thanks Folks !!

I finally got & followed an unbroken link to the 3-letter boys' free filing page - filled in the little info it asked for & got the needed pointers to sites that do BOTH fed & state for free for us po' folk.
(We easily qualified, that's for sure.)
Free Federal and State Return questions that lead to the exact links shown below:

Here are the sites resulting - some do only a few states but all include VT - good for us:
IRS Free File Program delivered by TurboTax
FreeTaxUSA® IRS Free File Edition
Online Taxes at

No idea which we'll use yet...huge distrust of all things Intuit sort of inhibits too much interest in that offer...need to look closely at the others now.

Another option I don't think was mentioned previously

Here's how this all shakes out after attempting & making contact with the several sites:

Mentioned before was - which is now totally dismissed by us because after emailing a query directly - a week passed with no reply...byebye !!

Intuit will be a port of last resort - to be avoided if at all possible.
It is the only free option that seems like it may import prior data for free, but the trems seem vague to me & may not include what we have from prior years anyhow. is a little misleading in that to get the free deal requires using the link I posted above, specifically.
Aside of that - they are tricky in that the free deal leaves out saving your info for prior year's access - which costs the $12.95 & is not the free deal.

Online Taxes at seems OK - no more or less than Freetaxusa, I think, so the free efiling via one of those 2 is what it comes down to so far.

Given the little data needing to be entered at all here - we neither have a large need for importing data, nor some sort of calculator as in the opentaxsolver.

The desire now is to just get it done & over with the best way possible via the free efiling.