E-file.com is a low-cost online tax preparation software company. It offers free tax prep and filing for anyone with a simple tax situation, most of whom can complete their returns in 15 minutes or less, according to E-file.com.
E-file.com is not to be confused with IRS e-File, which is the general process of filing your federal taxes online. You also shouldn’t confuse it with eFile, a nearly identically named competitor, so when navigating to the site, remember the hyphen.
E-file.com is merely one of many private companies authorized to e-file tax returns with the federal government. Its most popular competitors include established online tax preparation companies like TurboTax, H&R Block, and TaxAct as well as newer, leaner upstarts like Taxhub.
E-file.com is cheaper than full-service competitors like TurboTax and H&R Block. However, it’s very much a DIY option, lacking the level of customer support and user-friendliness of the established companies. Price-wise, E-file.com is a bit cheaper than TaxAct, though TaxAct has somewhat better customer support.
Since it’s affordable, fast, and relatively easy for anyone with experience preparing their own tax return to use, E-file.com deserves a closer look from anyone concerned with the size of their tax prep bill.
It has a no-frills, stripped-down tax preparation interface that takes a hybrid interview-DIY approach.
Each section and subsection begin with a short interview that asks basic questions about your life situation. Based on your answers to each batch of questions, you see a list of suggested forms and schedules.
If you’re confident you know which tax forms and schedules to fill out, you can skip right to the forms — a significant timesaver as long as you know how to fill them out.
E-file.com offers three plans. Each plan’s state return pricing covers multiple state tax returns, no matter how many you need to file. That’s an important distinction from most other tax preparation services, which charge separate fees for each one.
1. Free Federal Edition
The Free Federal Edition is appropriate for single and joint filers without dependents or the need to file additional schedules.
Filing your federal tax return is free under this plan. The state plan typically costs $25, but you can get 25% off (for a discounted price of $22.49) with code 25OFF.
2. Deluxe Plus Edition
Deluxe is appropriate for single and joint filers with dependents, mortgage interest, or retirement income.
The regular price for federal tax returns is $27.99, while state returns typically cost $25. Use code 25OFF to get a 25% discount, making them $20.49 and $22.49, respectively.
3. Premium Edition
Premium is appropriate for people with moderate to very complex tax situations, including those with investment income, small-business income, income from self-employment, and rental property income.
The regular price for federal returns is $49.99, and state tax returns cost $25. But you can get both for 25% off with the code 25OFF, taking over $10 off the federal tax return and around $8 off the state return.
While the specific features vary among plans based on how complex your tax situation is, all E-file.com plans come with the same additional features.
Prior-Year Return Importing From E-file.com
If you filed your return with E-file.com last year, you can import its information directly into your current-year return. However, you can’t import from other online tax preparation services. You also can’t import third-party tax forms, such as 1099s generated by your brokerage.
Filing Prior-Year Returns
If you failed to file a return for a prior tax year, you can use one of E-file.com’s three plans to do so. There’s no additional charge beyond the price of your chosen plan.
Note that you can only claim refunds going back three tax years. If you’re filing for an earlier year, you’ll forfeit any refund you otherwise would have gotten. However, the law still requires you to file older returns if you haven’t yet.
Support Ticketing & Phone Support
E-file.com’s primary mode of customer support is an email-based ticketing system. To use it, you fill out a simple form on the website, provide written details about your problem, and send it to E-file.com’s staff. The system typically produces an email response within one business day.
Deluxe and Premium filers also get access to E-file.com’s support team by phone.
E-file.com offers an optional audit assistance add-on at no additional charge. If you opt in and the IRS later audits your return, E-file.com handles all communication with the IRS on your behalf and provides regular status updates.
E-file.com’s return interface has a help sidebar with basic information about the tax topics you’re working on and basic advice about how to proceed. As you move through each form, the sidebar automatically updates to reflect your position.
Pay With Your Refund
E-file.com lets you pay your tax preparation fees with your tax refund, eliminating the need to provide your credit card information for an upfront payment. It provides this service through EPS Financial, a partner company. There’s an additional fee associated with this option.
Advantages of E-file.com
Despite being very bare-bones, E-file.com has a lot going for it beyond its low cost.
- Very Competitive Pricing. E-file.com is cheaper than many competitors and is one of the few programs that’s grown cheaper over time. The higher-priced plans are less than half the cost of comparable plans from H&R Block and as little as one-third the cost of comparable plans from TurboTax.
- Simple, No-Frills Approach. E-file.com uses fewer questions than most competitors, meaning fewer screens and redundant questions. Experienced filers can likely complete a tax return faster than an identical return prepared through labor-intensive competitors like TurboTax or TaxAct.
- You Can Pay With Your Refund. You can pay your tax preparation fees with your anticipated tax refund rather than upfront.
- Tight Security Practices. E-file.com has above-average security, at least from the user’s perspective. The account and password requirements are stricter than many competitors’. And E-file.com times out after approximately 10 minutes.
Disadvantages of E-file.com
With prices this low, there’s always a catch. E-File.com’s disadvantages trip up many would-be filers.
- No Free State Returns. If you have a simple tax situation and live in a state without state income taxes, you can use E-file.com for free. But the majority of E-file.com users must pay to file state taxes.
- Minimal Customer Support. E-file.com’s customer support infrastructure is minimal. On the free plan, there’s no way to get in touch with E-file.com staff by phone, and wait times for phone support on paid plans can be quite long as the filing deadline approaches.
- Mediocre Help System. E-file.com also has a mediocre on-site help system. Its knowledge base isn’t as comprehensive as TurboTax’s, nor does it have a user-generated question-and-answer component, which is often more helpful than canned FAQs or topics written by the tax prep company’s staff.
- Little to No Guidance for Complex Situations. If you have a complex tax situation, you have to be experienced to use E-file.com. It provides very little guidance during the preparation process, either in the form of guided questions or a help sidebar.
- No Importing Capabilities. You can’t import prior-year tax returns from other online tax preparers. You also can’t import tax-related files from third parties, such as 1099 statements from your brokerage. The lack of importing is a hassle for anyone with multiple income streams.
- Free Version Is Very Limited. E-file.com’s free version works for very straightforward tax situations only. If your taxes are too complicated for the free version to handle, you need to upgrade to at least Deluxe Plus. H&R Block’s free version can handle significantly more complex situations, including those involving itemized deductions.
E-file.com is not on many taxpayers’ radars. But if you’re reasonably well-versed in online tax prep, it’s a strong contender. Just compare it to better-known DIY favorite TaxAct.
|Free Plan||Yes, for very simple situations only||Yes, for simple situations only|
|Expert Assistance||None||Yes, free expert assistance at all price points; full-service prep starts at $100|
|Pay With Your Refund?||Yes, for an additional fee||Yes, for an additional fee|
|Most Expensive Plan Cost||Starting at $37.99||Starting at $64.99|
E-file.com is a relatively new online tax prep service without name recognition or much of an established reputation. That isn’t necessarily bad, as new companies can often offer service quality or overall value established companies can’t match.
But new companies also tend to have fewer resources to handle unforeseen problems or address customer concerns as they arise. Many of E-file.com’s drawbacks, particularly its noticeable lack of support resources, can ultimately be traced back to its lean structure and newcomer status.
The good news is these problems are fixable. As E-file.com gains traction in the marketplace, it’s likely to grow and mature. But it can’t get to that point without buy-in from early adopters in search of cheap, accurate online tax preparation services.
For more options, check out our full list of top-rated free online tax preparation services.