During tax season you’ve probably seen TurboTax’s annual ad blitz claiming that you can file federal and state taxes for free. In case you’ve been out of the country, here’s what I’m talking about:
As you can see, they say “free 23 times in a 30-second commercial, including their ending slogan, “That’s right, TurboTax Free Edition is free. Free free free free.” In other words, I’d say that they strongly suggest that TurboTax is free, right?
Yes, but please direct your attention to the fine print at the very end of the commercial that states, “TurboTax Free Edition is for simple U.S. returns only. See if you qualify at turbotax.com.”
Here are 4 ways to file your taxes free with TurboTax:
1. TurboTax FREE Edition: Who Qualifies?
The most popular way to file Federal and State taxes free is the TurboTax Free Edition. In fact, TurboTax claims that an average of over 10 million taxpayers (students, low income, seniors, etc.) use the Free Edition every year. (source) However, we must emphasize that the Free Edition is for simple tax returns only.
So, do you qualify for TurboTax Free Edition? That depends on a couple of variables including your income and tax situation.
Here are the qualifications to file free with TurboTax:
- You report W-2 income learn more
- You claim the standard deduction
- You claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low to moderate-income workers
- Limited interest and dividend income (reported on 1099-INT or 1099-DIV form)
- You qualify for the Child Tax Credit. As of 2021 the credit is for up to $3600 per child and fully refundable. learn more
If you don’t qualify for the Free Edition, there are also a couple of other ways you might be able to file your Federal and State taxes for free with TurboTax below. (or, you can always use a coupon for up to $15 off!)
2. U.S. Armed Forces (Active Duty):
TurboTax now offers their online products free to qualifying members of the U.S. military including their Deluxe, Premier, and Self-Employed editions. In fact, all enlisted active-duty members of the military and reservists with rank E1-E9 qualify .
Get started with TurboTax Online and just enter your W-2 and verify your military rank when prompted to qualify.
Tip: If you are not active-duty, a veteran, and don’t qualify for free, you can use our exclusive discount here.
3. IRS Free File Program (From TurboTax):
Intuit has made increasing effort to help more American’s file their Federal and State taxes for free through the IRS Free File Program (Formerly the “Freedom Edition“). In fact, about 2 million lower-income American taxpayers filed free with the TurboTax IRS free file offer in 2020.
Here’s who qualifies for the IRS Free File program through TurboTax:
- Taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $39,000 or less
- Military personnel with an AGI of $72,000 or less
- Those who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
- An income statement including W2s or 1099s
To get started or learn whether you qualify for the IRS Free File Program, visit: https://apps.irs.gov/app/freeFile/. Enter some simple information, and if you qualify you can choose TurboTax to file your taxes online for free.
4. TurboTax Free for Seniors, Low Income? (VITA, TCE)
Taxpayers may be able to file free with TurboTax through the IRS’s VITA or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program. These programs provide free tax preparation assistance for lower-income taxpayers (AGI generally less than $57k per year) including seniors, the unemployed, and those with limited English-speaking ability.
VITA/TCE services are free and assistance is provided by volunteers with tax law training that meets IRS qualifications. To learn more click here.
Tip: Financial institutions like Chase may offer TurboTax Premier for free to their preferred clients! Login and check your customer dashboard early in tax season to see if you qualify
5. Free for Ride Share Drivers (Uber + Lyft):
If you are a ride-share driver for Uber or Lyft, you probably qualify for Free TurboTax Self-Employed. You can also get 50% discount on TurboTax Live through your driver dashboard. Learn more here: Uber | Lyft
Is State eFile Free, Too?
The TurboTax Free Edition and the alternate methods described include free State and Federal e-file if you qualify. If you don’t qualify for free, then the cost to file is $50 per state.
So, Is TurboTax Really Free?
That’s a great question, and a lot of people are asking it this tax season. However, the better question is, “Is TurboTax free for me?” That’s because to file free with TurboTax Online you have to meet certain qualifications including a maximum income requirement and having a simple tax situation. In other words, for most people TurboTax is not free, and paying is unavoidable like death and taxes.
Because of this, you might find that getting a discount on TurboTax is actually a better option for your tax situation than using their Free Edition.
Tip: If you don’t qualify to file free, make sure you use the version of TurboTax best for your needs. I wouldn’t advise trying to save $20 on cheaper software when a single tax deduction can cost you hundreds of dollars!
If you do qualify to file free with TurboTax, then congratulations! You are among the millions of taxpayers with simple tax situations that pay nothing to file State and Federal taxes. If you do have to pay for TurboTax Online, we have a great, exclusive discount here!
If you have used one of these free ways to file with TurboTax, let us know below. Thanks for stopping by Black Alliance!