Free US tax software - how to actually find it


I am a Canadian, so different tax software systems, but I thought this article would be relevant to the <66k income earners in the US. It details the bait & switch going on, and how to actually find the correct software.


… I am going to share the shit out of this. I have so many friends who make well under 66k a year.


Um. So the first Google search screenshot in the article shows four paid ads at the top, clearly identified as such with a button proclaiming them to be ads. Then the very first actual search result is the Free File page at, which is exactly what you need. Do people really not distinguish between real search engine results and paid ads?

Also, once people get to the IRS site, it’s not nearly as complicated as the article would have readers believe. You don’t have to sort through all the various companies and qualifications; just click the “Free File Software Lookup Tool” on the front page, answer a few questions, and it will give a list of software that is free for people in your situation.

Should the IRS offer its own software? Of course. But the situation now is hardly overwhelming if people would just take a minute to read the instructions right there on the Google search/website front page.


Sorry, @diapasoun, didn’t mean for that to be a reply to you specifically, just to the topic as a whole.


I think that enough people who search something on Google, and see an ad from a company they are familiar with which says that if you click on it will take you to where you need, will click on that ad. If they didn’t, then these companies wouldn’t be doing it, and Google stock would be worth substantially less.

Also, people tend not to just read the instructions right there. That is the entire basis of my current job & broader industry (UX). I have spoken to people who can’t figure out how to onboard to the Pinterest app after multiple tries, and people my age who serially install and uninstall Twitter on their phones because they can’t find the setting to stop push notifications. And those were people who have time & cycles. In the case of Pinterest, they are even trying to do what the company wants. (Twitter notifications less so of course.) How much worse it is when people are being actively mislead?

ETA: for more on this topic, the general term is “dark patterns”

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I’m sure you’re right of course, and the attempt to mislead is real. Partly, my trouble was that when I responded last night, I was in the throes of evaluating freshman end of term work. That tends to lower my tolerance for not reading instructions well blow my usual sympathetic levels.