The Best 2016 – 2017 Online Tax Filing Software and Free Filing Options


The IRS has reported that over the last few years over 90% of individuals, filed their federal income tax returns electronically (E-File). This is up from about 30%, 10 years ago. Further, E-filed returns generally see applicable refunds provided 1 to 2 weeks faster than paper returns. Scroll down this article for some 2015 tax software discounts and online coupons.

Electronic Tax Filing options

The main benefit of using self-preparation tax software are lower costs relative hiring to a tax professional; and the fact that the software does all the math, includes all the new government payments and taxes, and checks for accuracy. You normally get your direct deposit refund (if applicable) within 10 days. The following well-known companies (always go with established companies for your taxes!) support the IRS e-filing option and provide decent customer service and audit support. Best of all, they are free to use for preparing your return and you only pay when actually e-filing your return. So it’s well worth trying all three for free and picking the one that gives you the best return.

  • TurboTax – Turbo Tax has been the #1 rated online tax software for a number of years. There is a reason for that, it makes tax filing a breeze for most users by guiding them step-by-step through possible tax obligations, deductions and credits. They also have a 100% calculation guarantee for their tax software, where if you pay an IRS or state penalty or interest because of a TurboTax calculation error, they pay you the penalty and interest.Competitively priced, it is definitely an option worth looking into when filing your taxes.
  • H&R Block – Building on their well-recognized brand and national office network, the online version of the H&R block tax software gets better every year and is much cheaper than their offline (i.e real tax preparer in an office) option. What’s also good about H&R block’s online offering is that if the IRS does come knocking you can get free audit support from their enrolled agents.

Free Tax Filing Options

For 2016, most major tax software providers are making their federal tax return products available for free to taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is less than the IRS mandated $62,000 limit during 2015. This $2,000 above 2014 levels.

  • TurboTax Free Edition: Turbo tax is the most used tax software and in the years that I have used it, I found it very easy to use thanks to its excellent step-by-step program to guide you through filling in your tax return. Like any commercial package though, they will try to “up-sell ” you, so make sure you check the options you really need. Overall, this is the best option for most online tax filers in my opinion.
  • H&R Block Online Free Edition: HR Block has the highest AGI income limit (even above the IRS limit) for free filing and a decent step-by-step guide for users, though not as user-friendly and intuitive as the above two options. You can also import last year’s tax data from Turbo Tax and certain other software packages.

Tax Filing Discounts and Coupons 

Thanks to being a prominent personal finance and tax blogger I get a lot of discount deals from tax software vendors through out the season. But I only need one for my self so I thought I would share some of the best offers (paid and free-filing options) from each provider, some of which are exclusive to this site. If you find any better deals or coupons, post it in the comments below. 

2016-2017 Tax Season Filing Key Dates and Deadlines

2017 Deadline
Tax Related Activity
January 1, 2017First day to file a 2016 tax return, though the IRS generally will not accept e-file and free file returns until the date below. Even paper based filings won't be processed till later in the month
January 23, 2017IRS E-file to go live, allowing submission of electronic tax returns for the vast majority of tax filers. Paper tax returns will begin processing from this date as well
January 31, 2017Date by which you should have received a W-2 from employers you worked for during the tax year. If not, contact their HR/Payroll department to resend tax documents
February 1, 2017Deadline for 1099 statements (factors in your AGI income) that report non-employee compensation, bank interest, dividends and distributions from a retirement plan. This date is also the deadline for self-employed individuals to file and pay in full their fourth-quarter estimated tax payment
February 16, 2017Financial institutions (e.g Vanguard, Fidelity) must mail out 1099-B, 1099-S and 1099-MISC forms by this date. See what these forms are and if you will need one for your return
March 15, 2017S Corporation and Partnership tax returns due
April 18, 2017*Tax Day* Last day for filing federal income tax returns and extension requests. Since April 15th is a Saturday and Monday is the Emancipation Day holiday the due date has been shifted out to Tuesday, April 18th.
April 18, 2017Deadline for filing state income tax returns (for most states) and extension requests. Last day to make a contribution to a Traditional or Roth IRA, Health Savings Account (HSA), SEP-IRA or 401(k)
June 15, 2017U.S. citizens or resident aliens living abroad must file tax returns and pay any taxes due by this date (or file for a four-month extension)
June 30, 2017FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Report) forms due for taxpayers who have over $10,000 in total in foreign bank accounts in the prior year. No extensions are allowed and forms must be filed electronically
October 15, 2017Filing approved extended federal, state and S-Corp/Partnership income tax returns Note: you still need to file for an extension request by April 17th
April 15, 2020Filing a 2016 tax amendment. You can file an amended or previous year return anytime, but you have a deadline of 3 years from the original due date to claim any tax refund.

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15 Comments on "The Best 2016 – 2017 Online Tax Filing Software and Free Filing Options"

[…] Ensure you use anti-virus software to clean your PC or find another computer to log into your tax filing software provided and check your personal information has not been compromised. You can also […]

[…] qualifying criteria by following  instructions in IRS publication 596 or using online tax filing software which can also help you work through figuring your credit eligibility and determine the amount you […]

[…] for Line 64 a on Form 1040, Line 38a on Form 1040A, or line 8a on Form 1040EZ. Most online tax filing software can also help you work through figuring your credit eligibility and determine the amount you would […]

[…] with your debit or credit card is actually quite easy and most online tax preparation software lets you do this; normally through an IRS approved 3rd party processor. Taxpayers can e-file or […]

[…] tax returns. While simple returns for low income earners can be filed for free with most large online e-File tax providers, those who have complicated financial situations or have moved states during the year can find […]

[…] one or more of the above questions, then you should file a tax return. Consider using the following top rated tax software to help you with […]

[…] can I expect my tax refund?  In most cases if you e-file (see recommended providers) and use direct deposit  the IRS estimates that you should receive your federal refund between […]

[…] Higher Taxable Income Brackets and Standard Deduction = Lower Taxes. The good news with higher tax brackets and standard deductions is that your tax bill may actually drop a little because more of your income is taxed in the lower brackets. All things being equal, a married couple with taxable income of $100,000 should expect to pay $185 less in income taxes in 2012 thanks to inflation adjusted tax brackets. Adjusting tax brackets for inflation deals with the issue of “bracket creep,” where tax payers pay more and more taxes as their income (due to inflation) rises over time. More than 60% of taxpayers will also benefit from the higher standard deduction because they don’t have enough deductions to justify itemizing. Taxable income vs Adjusted Gross Income. After writing this article I received a lot of questions/comments on the different definitions of income. So I thought I would write this short excerpt to… Read more »

[…] claim the credit use form 8880 or any recommended tax software. Eligible taxpayers must also be at least 18 years of age and not be enrolled as a full-time […]

When I Can File My 2012 Taxes in 2013 and Other Key Tax Filing, Extension and Refund Dates | Saving to Inve$t

[…] King, Jr. Day (Jan 21st, 2013).  After filing and assuming your tax return is on order  (see recommended providers)  you should receive your federal refund between 8 and 14 days after they accept your return. […]

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When Can I File My 2011 Tax Return and Get My Refund? Plus Other Key Tax Dates and Deadlines in 2012 | Saving to Inve$t

[…] can I expect my tax refund?  In most cases if you e-file (see recommended providers) and use direct deposit, the IRS estimates that you should receive your federal refund between 8 […]

[…] Taxpayer savings from inflation adjustments can vary tremendously, depending on an individual’s circumstances. A married couple filing jointly with total taxable income of $100,000 should pay $12.50 less in income taxes in 2010 than on the same income for 2009, compared with a $312.50 savings between 2008 and 2009. A single filer with taxable income of $50,000 should owe $6.25 less next year due to the adjustments, compared to a $156.25 savings with significantly higher inflation between 2008 and 2009. See a review of the best 2010 Tax Filing Software. […]

There are some other free filing option programs not mentioned above : VITA program The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, or VITA, brings free, live tax preparation and e-filing assistance to low-income households. You qualify if your household income is below $49,000. You will find VITA centers at libraries, colleges, community centers, religious centers and other neighborhood sites. To find a site near you, call 1-800-906-9887. Or scan this partial list of VITA sites, on The armed forces version of VITA is called AFTC, for Armed Forces Tax Council. You have volunteers and experts who know the special credits, deductions and exclusions available to members of all branches of the armed forces, and their families. They will understand the state income tax exclusions, as well. TCE program Tax Counseling for the Elderly, or TCE: The focus here is tax issues for those age 60 and above. TCE volunteers understand… Read more »

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