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eFile review: A cheaper way to file online for people with complex situations

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  • eFile offers three low-cost plans for preparing a tax return, including a $0 federal return option.
  • The platform is fully do-it-yourself; there is no option to hire a tax professional.
  • Software is best for people who need higher-tier products from Software and Tax Software but don't want to pay a lot.
  • See Personal Finance Insider's picks for the best tax software »

Tax software has one job: to help you prepare and file your tax return accurately. 

To that end, Software gets the job done for a lower price than TurboTax or H&R Block. Its menu of services is slimmer and more streamlined than the industry heavyweights, making the platform less overwhelming. While it does include a free option for federal returns, there are some notable limitations.

If you know that you won't need hands-on help from a CPA to prepare your personal tax return, Software is worth considering.

Here's a look at how eFile works, how much it costs, and who it's best for.

e file Logo
Editor's rating 3.4 / 5
Review summary

eFile is worth consideration as a low-cost alternative to the upper-tier products offered by TurboTax and H&R Block. It's not a good place to get free filing or expert help.

Cost of DIY filing

$0 – $49.95

+$28 for unlimited state returns

  • Fewer nice-to-have features
  • Rudimentary yet straightforward interface
  • Cheaper state return filing than competitors
  • Lacking customer support
Free version covers Single and married joint filers; W-2 income; unemployment income; interest income below $1,500; earned income tax credit

Who should use eFile?

If you prize affordability and are confident in your tax knowledge, eFile is a good option for preparing your tax return.

It covers the same tax situations as Software and Tax Software for a fraction of the price. But naturally there are trade-offs. The lower cost results in fewer nice-to-have features, such as expert access, time-saving document upload, and a modern interface.

Tax filers who know they would have to pay for upper-tier products from TurboTax or H&R Block — i.e. they have itemized deductions or self-employment income, for example — will save money with eFile.

How much does eFile cost?

eFile has three online do-it-yourself plans. Its highest-tier offering is cheaper than both Software and Tax Software's lowest-tier offering when you don't consider the free plans.

Like other software providers, Software allows you to create an account and start preparing your return for free — you don't pay until you file. But unlike competitors, eFile won't make you choose a specific package out of the gate; as you add different tax forms, the platform will decide which package suits your needs so you never overpay.

Cost of DIY options and what they cover …

  • Free Basic: $0. You can use the free plan if you have taxable W-2 income or unemployment income below $100,000. You'll have to upgrade if you have investment income, freelance income, or want to claim anything other than the earned income tax credit. This plan only supports the single and joint filing statuses.
  • Deluxe: $39.95. If you have dependents, a mortgage, or retirement income, you'll use Deluxe. But your taxable income still needs to be below $100,000.
  • Premier: $49.95. This plan is for anyone with $100,000 or more in taxable income from any source, including trusts and business partnerships.

Extra fees will apply if …

  • You need state filing. eFile charges $28 for unlimited state returns, even if you qualify for the Free Basic plan. Many competitors charge a higher fee for each return.

How does eFile work?

Software prides itself on providing affordable, fast, and easy-to-use software for filing your taxes online. All you have to do is create an account and you're on your way. However, it doesn't allow document upload to speed up the data entry process. This feature is available at Tax Software and Software and can be a huge time-saver if you have income from multiple sources. 

Like other platforms, eFile uses a guided question-and-answer format to help fill out your return. You can also jump around to different forms if you know what you're looking for. If you want to stop at any time, everything entered up to that point will be saved.

A bonus: eFile's approach to taxes is more lighthearted than competitors (think: songs and videos to help you "de-stress").

Is eFile legitimate?

Yes. Software is a safe and reliable website for preparing individual income tax returns that's authorized by the IRS.

It keeps your information secure with data encryption. It also requires multi-factor authentication every time you log in to verify your identity.

Are there any downsides to using eFile?

If you value affordability above all else, you'll find a better deal through a site like FreeTax USA Software if you have a complicated return.

eFile doesn't offer much in the way of customer support. There are no options to speak directly with tax professional either via phone or video chat, even for an extra fee. The only way to get in touch with an expert is through email, and it can take days to get a response.

It's also worth noting that eFile hasn't created an app, and the website isn't very mobile-friendly. If you want to use your phone to file on the go, eFile is not the most convenient option.

Laura Grace Tarpley contributed reporting.

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