Pros / You can file any federal return for no cost.

Cons / There’s no tool to import a W-2; you have to enter that information manually.

 Verdict / If cost is your most important criteria, FreeTaxUSA is a good choice. Returns are free, no matter how complicated, and state returns are only $12.95.

FreeTaxUSA lives up to its name. Along with Credit Karma, it offers free federal returns, no matter how complex. The cost to file a state return is the lowest of the services that charge, beating out Tax Slayer.

Many of the other programs we tested have a free version, but if you have deductions, dependents or investment income, you’ll have to pay to file a return. Not so with FreeTaxUSA, which doesn’t charge for any type of federal return. It may be worth investigating if you’re filing self-employed income and don’t want to pay for the high costs other companies charge for those types of returns.

We tested this software by filling out a sample return. Our reviewers found it to be one of the simplest programs to use. It’s one of the easiest programs to navigate through, with dropdown menus that highlight the most relevant parts of the income or deduction section of your return. With many programs we had to click through multiple screens to edit something in one of our deductions.

The program alerts you immediately of any errors. And depending on the severity of the error, you won’t be able proceed any further with your return. FreeTaxUSA also provides a thorough explanation of the error, something that other programs don’t do as well.

FreeTaxUSA has the drawback of not letting you import your W-2’s, which is a disadvantage but not a deal breaker. It just means you have to input your information manually. You can upload a previous year’s return, which does auto-fill your personal information.

This software offers audit assistance for an additional $6.99. FreeTaxUSA’s audit assistance isn’t quite as robust as other programs. They only consult and give advice if your audited. Other programs with audit protection will file paperwork for you if you get audited. Audits are rare, and you may only want this if you have a complicated return with a lot of self-reported income.

You can get your refund via direct deposit or check. Direct deposit might be best since checks can take several weeks to arrive. FreeTaxUSA offers the option to pay any filing fees with your refund, but it does charge an additional $19.99 for this.

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FreeTaxUSA doesn’t charge for federal returns, no matter how complex. State returns are reasonably priced as well. The program is easy to use and is especially good at flagging errors. You can’t import W-2s and it does charge additional fees if you want to use your refund to pay a filing fee.

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