Cash App Taxes Review 2022: Totally Free Online Tax Software for All
This story is part of Taxes 2022, CNET’s coverage of the best tax software and everything else you need to get your return filed quickly, accurately and on-time.
Even if you don’t qualify for the IRS Free File program, you can still file your federal income taxes for free. One of the best and easiest ways to file taxes for free is Cash App Taxes — our pick for best free tax software in 2022.
Formerly known as Credit Karma Tax, Cash App Taxes makes its debut this 2022 tax season. It keeps all the functionality and features of the old software with a slightly new design and new branding.
Unlike other “free” commercial tax software offerings, Cash App Taxes doesn’t hide its free version behind tons of marketing, restrict users based on their tax situations or even charge you for your state tax return. Even if you have freelance income, crypto trades, retirement distributions, rental property income or health savings accounts, Cash App Taxes can e-file your tax returns completely free. And Cash App Taxes’ inclusion of a free state return is a feature that none of the other commercial online tax software provide.
Cash App Taxes requires the installation of the Cash App mobile software on a phone or tablet, and it doesn’t include the extensive help and support of industry tax software leaders like TurboTax and H&R Block. It does include solid contextual help as well as technical support from real humans via live chat, but there’s no professional tax or phone support.
Even though it’s free, the interface and functionality of Cash App Taxes is very professional. If you’re looking for a way to file your 2021 tax return for no cost at all, be sure to give Cash App Taxes a good look.
- 100% free for one federal and one state return
- Polished mobile app
- Free audit defense
- Max Refund and Accurate Calculations Guarantees
- No multiple state returns
- Complicated desktop login
- Can’t import W-2 or 1099s
- No professional tax advice
How does Cash App Taxes work?
To use Cash App Taxes, you download the Cash App mobile software and create a Cash App account, using a valid email address or phone number. The onboarding process will also ask for a debit card to connect with the account, but it’s not necessary to proceed.
From Cash App’s mobile app, you can access Cash App Taxes through the banking tab: Under the Taxes section, find the link for Free Tax Filing. An interstitial screen offers File Now or Estimate Refund buttons as well as a link for users who have filed with Credit Karma Tax in previous years.
After verifying your identity with your Social Security number, the app will ask you to create a password specifically for Cash App Taxes, not Cash App in general.
Cash App Taxes offers a wide selection of IRS forms and schedules, but its interview-style filing process is quite bare-bones. There’s no navigational outline — you’ll need to travel back to the Tax home page to access different parts of your return. Technical support and tax help content are likewise limited. A question mark icon is available for all the form entries, but instructions are brief and often link off to the IRS site for more information.
The FAQ on the help slide-in panel only links out to the main Cash App Taxes support page at taxeshelp.cash.app. Live chat for website issues and basic tax questions is included here, but there is no phone support or guarantee of communicating with a tax professional.
How to run Cash App Taxes on a desktop
You can use either a mobile device or your computer to file with Cash App Taxes, but the login process for the browser-based software is unique. Every time you log in to the desktop version, you must snap a QR code with the Cash App mobile app and then enter your Cash App Taxes password on your mobile device. You have to use the mobile app and password every time you log in to the desktop version.
Because Cash App Taxes doesn’t support uploading forms, you could be entering lots of data by hand, which works much better with a keyboard. The desktop login process is a minor annoyance, but it could become increasingly frustrating if you’re working on a long return or logging in often. Cash App Taxes does allow photo capture of W-2 forms, but I was not able to access that feature via desktop web browser (Chrome or Opera) or Android tablet.
While you can use Cash App on both the mobile app or a desktop, switching between the two platforms may cause a few hiccups. Although information like dependents and charitable deductions synced immediately, W-2 information took about an hour to transfer from the mobile app entry to the browser-based version. We also experienced some ugly error screens very occasionally when switching between the mobile app and browser software.
Who is Cash App Taxes best for?
Experienced Cash App users should strongly consider the free Cash App Taxes software. The tax interface is integrated well into the mobile app, and filers with simple returns could complete the process in a few minutes.
Cash App Taxes is best suited to DIY individuals who don’t need much hand-holding through the filing process, since there’s no help for some of the more complicated forms, and professional expertise is nonexistent.
Former Credit Karma Tax users should also give Cash App Taxes a try. Your tax returns from prior years are easy to access and the software is virtually identical to Credit Karma Tax.
Who should look elsewhere?
Those wanting tax support should look elsewhere. Cash App Taxes has an adequate help section and live chat for simple technical and tax questions, but no support by tax professionals.
Freelancers with multiple 1099 forms should also try another tax service. Unlike competitors, Cash App Taxes doesn’t support uploading forms other than previous-year tax returns, so you’ll have to enter each of them manually.
Here are a few of the other tax situations not supported by Cash App Taxes:
- Multiple state returns
- Nonresident state returns
- Increased standard deduction
- Foreign earned income
- Married filing separately in community property states
The Cash App Taxes support portal has separate pages for a full list of federal forms and situations that it supports and forms and situations Cash App Taxes does not support. Be sure to review the lists before getting started to see if Cash App Taxes will work for you.
Is Cash App Taxes really free?
Yes, Cash App Taxes is free. In fact, there’s no opportunity to pay for the service or upgrade for premium support. The product earns money through targeted advertising for other financial services.
Cash App Taxes also generates users for the payment service Cash App, which makes money in a variety of ways, such as retailer hardware fees, transaction fees, selling bitcoin and net interest lending.
What’s the difference between Cash App Taxes and Credit Karma Tax?
Credit Karma Tax was a free tax service originally offered by finance company Credit Karma, which sold the tax service to Cash App in November 2020. Cash App’s corporate owner Block acquired Credit Karma Tax at the end of 2020. This year marks the first tax season for Cash App Taxes.
Cash App says the new service has all the same features as Credit Karma Tax, but with a new name and branding. The software does seem to be nearly identical in functionality, and the design even keeps the spare look and feel of Credit Karma Tax. Aside from the name, the only obvious difference in software is the QR code login process.
If you’ve filed with Credit Karma Tax before, you can get your past returns by visiting the Tax Returns section of Cash App Taxes. If you haven’t used Credit Karma Tax, you’ll need to upload PDFs in order to include info from past returns.
Other notable features in Cash App Taxes
Cash App offers two guarantees: Accurate Calculations and Maximum Refund. The Accurate Calculations Guarantee will pay up to $1,000 if Cash App Taxes makes an error that results in IRS penalties.
Cash App Taxes also provides one year of audit defense for free. If you decide to file with Cash App again in 2023, the audit defense protection extends to three years.
Taxpayers can file digitally or print their returns to file through the mail. Cash App Taxes recommends using the desktop version for printing forms. Tax refunds can be added to your Cash App account, put into your bank with direct deposit or delivered via check in the mail.
Cash App Taxes’s live chat feature is staffed by humans and available 12 hours every day, from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. PT (11 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET). There’s a wait time to chat live with a Cash App Taxes representative, but in several tries, our longest wait was less than 2 minutes. That wait time could increase greatly as April 18 gets closer.
Cash App Taxes provides a simple mobile option for filers looking for a free version that doesn’t skimp on forms and schedules. The lack of comprehensive tax support makes it a better choice for DIYers and taxpayers confident in their ability to file their taxes. Cash App users who already have the mobile app installed and aren’t excluded by Cash App Taxes’ restrictions have no reason not to give it a spin.
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