Last Updated: January 12, 2023
Are you looking for help preparing your taxes? There are some great online tax prep services that will help you file your taxes easier and safer.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about two of the most popular solutions – FreeTaxUSA vs TurboTax.
Before going into detail, let’s compare the basic features of FreeTaxUSA and TurboTax.
+$14.99 per additional state filed
+$49 per additional state filed
|Access to a tax expert||Yes||Yes|
|Support||Email, account message center, live chat (for Deluxe subscribers only)||Contact form, phone, FAQ page, community|
|OS supported||Browser-based||Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS|
|Maximum refund guarantee||Yes||Yes|
|In business since||2001||1984|
What Is TurboTax?
Designed by Intuit, TurboTax helps with tax preparation, tax filing, and returns.
Although one of the most expensive online tax filing services, TurboTax has the edge over competitors thanks to its outstanding ease of use and human help. The interface is simple, and you can use it online, download it, or have it on CD form.
What Is FreeTaxUSA?
FreeTaxUSA is an online tax filing service that is worth considering. Although missing a few nice-to-have features, the platform is easy to use and reliable. In addition, it’s an affordable option, suitable for confident filers who need minimal guidance.
TurboTax vs FreeTaxUSA: Free Edition
The free package of TurboTax applies only to simple tax returns – one federal and one state. An additional state filed costs $49.
Situations covered in TurboTax Free Edition include:
- W-2 income
- Limited interest and dividend income reported on a 1099-INT or 1099-DIV
- Claiming the standard deduction
- Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC)
- Child tax credits
- Student Loan Interest deduction
Also, unlike FreeTaxUSA, all TurboTax users get guidance in case of an audit.
On the other hand, the free version of FreeTaxUSA costs $14.99 per state tax return. But does that make it a more pricey option than TurboTax? Wait to hear that the free edition of FreeTaxUSA covers not just the basic but all tax situations, including those in the Premium package, such as:
- Home ownership
- Max credits/deductions
- Earned income credit
- Rental income
Self-employed individuals can also file their federal taxes for free with FreeTaxUSA.
FreeTaxUSA and TurboTax both have different packages for various tax situations. However, their pricing structures are different.
The Deluxe version of FreeTaxUSA costs $6.99 per federal and $14.99 per state tax filed. As mentioned above, the company offers free federal tax filing services for all tax situations. What the Deluxe plan offers to sweeten the deal is:
- Step-by-step assistance with live chat
- Audit support
- Unlimited amended returns
The difference between TurboTax Free and Deluxe is that the latter goes through 350 deductions and credits, and maximizes mortgage and property tax deductions. The plan costs $59 per federal and an extra $49 per state.
The Premier package is slightly more expensive than the previous two. The cost for federal return is $89 plus an additional $49 per state.
The difference between TurboTax Premier and Deluxe is that the premium plan is best for investors and those with rental properties. Even though TurboTax Premier is a bit pricey, the reviews show that the customers are satisfied with this package.
The self-employed plan includes a premium version plus business income, expenses on Schedule C, home office deductions, and features for freelancers. This plan costs $119 per federal and $49 per state filing.
If you need extra help filing your taxes, TurboTax offers assistance from experienced tax experts via a live video chat. The Live service is more expensive than the standard DIY packages. Specifically, their costs are:
Basic – $79
Deluxe – $119
Premier – $169
Self-Employed – $199
Alternatively, you can have all your taxes prepared by a tax expert. TurboTax Live Full Service costs:
Basic – $199
Deluxe – $249
Premier – $359
Self-Employed – $389
TurboTax vs FreeTaxUSA: Ease of Use
Both TurboTax and FreeTaxUSA are easy-to-use. But TurboTax is known for its feature-rich, intuitive platform. Its interface looks like a chat with a tax preparer, and you can skip around if you need to.
On the other hand, with FreeTaxUSA, there is no option to skip. It works best if you are ready to finish your taxes in one sitting. Even though it doesn’t have step-by-step instructions, the interface is pretty straightforward.
Notably, TurboTax offers other useful features such as importing electronic PDFs of tax returns from H&R Block, Credit Karma, TaxAct, TaxSlayer, and Liberty Tax. You can also auto-import certain tax documents. TurboTax offers crypto support, a donation calculator, and also platform mobility so you can work on your return through your computer, the website, or on your phone or tablet.
Like many other providers, you can use TurboTax through your smartphone or tablet. The tax preparation and filing app is available for both Android and iOS. They offer the same functionalities as the browser-based version. The homepage displays a content list, and data entry screens are easy to navigate.
FreeTaxUSA doesn’t have an app, but it offers a good mobile version of the website. You use the same buttons at the bottom of the screen to move forward and back. Some screens require so much scrolling to get to the bottom, so you have a previous page button at the top of the screen. Ultimately, if you are used to using your smartphone, you will find this mobile-friendly version easy to use.
Support and Resources
TurboTax offers an in-person review with a tax professional as well as unlimited tax advice throughout the year. But this service is available if you buy the TurboTax Live version, which costs extra. A resourceful FAQ page and community forums offer all TurboTax clients general guidance. Tech support is also available to all users through a chatbot and a contact form.
On the other hand, when it comes time to file your taxes with FreeTaxUSA, you are on your own. Indeed, the Deluxe version grants access to live chat and priority support, but the representatives you can contact don’t give tax advice. They can only answer simple questions about the software. So if you want extra support to take care of your taxes, TurboTax is a better option.
TurboTax offers everyone free audit support from a tax professional to help you understand your notice from the IRS. You will also get one-on-one audit guidance, year-round answers to your audit questions, and assistance with what to expect and how to prepare for an audit. If, for some reason, they can’t connect you with a tax professional, you will get a refund of the federal and state purchase price paid.
Notably, TurboTax won’t represent you before the IRS unless you pay an extra $49 for the company’s audit defense product, called MAX.
The audit support from FreeTaxUSA is included in the Deluxe package. Users who opt for the plan can have all their audit-related questions answered by a company rep. They also get access to a specialized knowledge bank that contains information on the audit process. However, FreeTaxUSA’s Audit Assist is only applicable to federal returns and not state returns, and the company doesn’t offer audit representation services.
We’ve analyzed numerous reviews, and we came to the conclusion that most FreeTaxUSA customers are satisfied with the company because it offers affordable tax prep services. However, many complain about the lack of a mobile app and the clunky interface.
On the other hand, TurboTax is a best-selling tax software with a high rating across third-party review websites. Customers say that the software is fast, easy to use, and has many features, but it is significantly pricier than other tax filing services.
FreeTaxUSA vs TurboTax: Which Has a Bigger Refund?
Both providers guarantee a maximum refund and 100% calculation accuracy. Although FreeTaxUSA says it has a 100% accuracy guarantee, it doesn’t protect from user error, so if you put incorrect information, you will be responsible for discrepancies.
TurboTax allows you to receive your refund via direct deposit to a bank account, loaded onto Turbo Visa Debit Card, or paper check. You can even apply the refund to next year’s taxes. TurboTax also offers an option of paying for the software with your refund with an additional charge of $39.99.
Like TurboTax, FreeTaxUSA also provides refunds through direct deposit, loaded on a prepaid card and paper checks. With FreeTaxUSA, you are able to pay for the plan with part of your refund with an additional fee of $19.99.
At the end, which tax software you choose depends on your needs and how much you are willing to pay. FreeTaxUSA is much cheaper than TurboTax, so if you are confident filing your taxes on your own with only a little guidance, FreeTaxUSA is a great and affordable option. However, there aren’t a lot of features.
If you are willing to pay for more access and support, TurboTax is a great choice that covers more complicated tax situations. Getting audited can be stressful, so TurboTax offers free audit support from a tax professional. It also has a user-friendly mobile app with an easy-to-use interface so you can file your taxes on the go.
Ultimately, FreeTaxUSA is a better deal, but TurboTax offers a feature-rich platform that can help you with more complex tax situations.
FreeTaxUSA is a trusted and IRS-approved online tax filing provider with over 50 million tax returns filed.
TurboTax keeps your information secure with data encryption. The company’s security specialists work to protect your personal details through monitoring, internal checks, and external tests.
Both FreeTaxUSA and TurboTax offer reliable tax prep services. Which one is better depends on your needs and budget. With FreeTaxUSA, you can file all your federal taxes for free. But consider that you won’t get much guidance or a mobile app. TurboTax is a pricey alternative, but it offers a more intuitive design and a variety of human support options.