Cash App Taxes Review: Free, Simple, DIY Tax Filing
Rating as of based on a review of services January 6, 2023.
Cash App Taxes lets you file simple and complex returns for free. Though it lacks the robust customer support its competitors have, the service is a bargain for DIY filers.
- Tax newbies
- DIY types
- Simple to minimally complex tax situations
Editor’s Note: Credit Karma Tax was rebranded as Cash App Taxes as of November 2020.
If you want tax software to help with everyone’s favorite annual chore, you usually expect to pay for the privilege. Cash App Taxes, the new and rebranded version of Credit Karma Tax, has a unique competitive niche. It’s the rare online tax service that is actually free — no paid tiers and no surprise fees.
Their goal is simplicity. The Cash App Taxes website says many users can finish their taxes in literal minutes. Of course, this depends on how complex your taxes are. But if you have a simple return — W-2, single state, standard deduction, no fancy investments — I bet you could finish your Cash App Taxes within 15 to 30 minutes, all through an app on your phone.
In 2020, Credit Karma Tax was acquired by Cash App, a peer-to-peer payment platform with a suite of fintech services (debit cards, loans, investing, etc.). Cash App Taxes creators kept most features as similar as possible to Credit Karma Tax, so the transfer should be pretty seamless if you used the old version.
Pros & Cons of Cash App Taxes
- Free for multiple tax forms and schedules — Even if your taxes are super complex, you won’t be charged.
- Great mobile app access — Their app is good for fast, efficient filing.
- Simple interface, layout, and navigation — The layout sticks to the basics, with plain white space and minimal images, so the site loads quickly and is easy to read.
- Limited customer support — Compared to other tax services, Cash App Taxes doesn’t offer much specific guidance if you get stuck.
- Tricky to switch between mobile app and browser — For people who prefer browser-based or computer filing, it takes a while for information to transfer between the two platforms.
- No multiple state returns — If you worked and want to file in more than one state, this may be a dealbreaker.
Key Features of Cash App Taxes
Cash App Taxes is free for federal and state returns, no matter how complex.
Like a lot of free fintech apps, they make money through targeted advertising. Plus, you have to sign up for Cash App first (they won’t charge you), so if you end up using Cash App’s other services, the company gets more users and profit.
They accommodate an impressive range of tax situations for a free app, including but not limited to:
- Freelance and self-employment income/Schedule C.
- Rental property income.
- Retirement funds.
- Health savings accounts.
- State forms (for 40 states and the District of Columbia).
Tax Services That Aren’t Covered
Cash App Taxes doesn’t support some forms people might need, like:
- No part-year resident state returns.
- No multiple state returns.
- No underpayment of estimated tax.
- No returns for prior years.
- No forms for married filing separately in community property states.
- No state forms for New Hampshire or Tennessee.
The support page has answers to basic tax questions. A live chat feature lets you talk to a representative from 8 am to 8 pm PST (11 am to 11 pm EST). Other than that, there isn’t phone or email support, and you don’t have the option to talk with a tax professional.
Cash App Taxes does link to computers and tablets, but it’s really designed for phones. You need to download Cash App (which works on Android or iOS) and create an account to use the service, even if you’re filing on the computer.
Audit Defense and Maximum Refund Guarantee
Credit Karma Tax had these features, and so does Cash App Taxes. You get free professional representation for a year if you’re audited, and up to $100 if you don’t get your maximum refund.
Cash App Taxes: In-Depth Analysis
Signing into Cash App
The Cash App Taxes login process deserves its own entry because it can get pretty complicated.
Before you get started, you download Cash App and enter some basic info. If you’re filing through the mobile app (and you can upload all your tax info from your phone) you’ll stay logged in and follow the prompts.
You’ll be asked to enter a debit card to connect to the account, but you won’t be charged, and you don’t have to use any other Cash App services unless you want to.
If you’re filing on a computer or tablet browser — I’m an elder Millennial, so I like to file taxes from the computer — the login process takes a minute. Each time you log in, you have to:
- Get a QR code from the login page.
- Scan the QR code with your phone.
- Enter the password on your phone.
It’s basically a two-factor authentication system every time. While this system is great for keeping info safe, it can get annoying if you need to log out and log in again.
Importing W2s and 1099 Forms
Cash App Taxes is still fairly new, so they’re working out some features, including form uploads. They let you import a W-2 through scanning or taking a picture. If you have 1099s, though, you’ll have to enter their info manually.
Online tax prep services have to meet IRS security and privacy standards, so Cash App Taxes has these down — 128-bit or higher encryption and multifactor authentication, which explains the several-step computer login process.
Layout and Interface
The pages are easy to read and navigate — Cash App Taxes doesn’t go crazy with the graphics, so your scrolling won’t be slowed down by a ton of pictures.
There’s an easy link back to the homepage and a dropdown menu, but no navigational outline where you can click on different parts of your return without going to the homepage (a feature I personally missed).
Help and Guidance for Tax Questions
This is an area where Cash App Taxes could use some work. If you have questions along the way, you have a few options:
- Informational links come with an (ⓘ) that links you to a pop-up screen; these explanations are basic and brief, and not always thorough.
- The Tax Help Center lets you search for terms or browse by categories. There’s some good information here, but it may take a while to find exactly what you’re looking for.
- Clicking on the question mark icon on the form entries will lead you to FAQs or instructions. These can provide good info, but they’re disorganized and sometimes simply link to the IRS page.
Importing Previous Years’ Taxes
You can import your prior years’ tax returns — which may save you a ton of effort — if you’ve previously filed with H&R Block, TurboTax, or TaxAct. And, if you filed with Credit Karma Tax before, your data should automatically transfer.
If you filed with a service that isn’t listed, you’ll have to enter previous years’ info manually.
Who Is Cash App Taxes Best For?
People With Simple Returns
If you have only W-2s and a single state return, Cash App Taxes will be super convenient.
DIY Tax Preparers
When you use paid online tax services, part of what you’re paying for is the expert help and in-depth tax code explanations that are there if you need them. By comparison, Cash App Taxes doesn’t give you much guidance. But if you’re confident you know what you’re doing, the service should be fine.
Self-Employed People with Tax Expertise
I can’t think of another tax service that accommodates self-employed or freelance filers without charging them extra. If you don’t mind filing with minimal assistance, you can save a ton of money.
Cash App and Former Credit Karma Tax Users
If you already use Cash App or you’ve filed with Credit Karma Tax before, integration should be a breeze.
Who Cash App Taxes Isn’t Best For
People Who Need Help With Complicated Returns
While Cash App Taxes can handle a lot of tax situations, it doesn’t offer as much navigation and guidance for these situations as its competitors do.
If you’re confused about how to list self-employment gigs, rental property income, health care expenses, or any unusual forms you received, another service may be more helpful.
People Filing Multi-State Returns
Cash App Taxes only lets you file one state return along with your federal return, so if you worked or lived in different states, it won’t be sufficient.
Cash App Taxes vs. the Competition
TurboTax has a free version, for simple tax returns only, that covers the basics (like W-2s, unemployment, and earned income tax credits). Or you can upgrade to:
- Deluxe ($59) to maximize deductions.
- Premier ($89) for investments.
- Self-Employed ($119).
Paid versions charge $49 for state returns.
TurboTax answers your tax questions much more thoroughly than Cash App Taxes does, and its automated service hunts to make sure you’ve gotten every deduction possible. For an additional fee, you can consult a tax expert.
You can also easily import last year’s return via PDF.
TaxAct has a free version for simple federal returns, but it doesn’t accommodate a lot of credits or deductions, and it costs $39.95 for each state return; though you can file in multiple states, unlike with Cash App Taxes.
- You’ll need the Deluxe version at $46.95 if you want to take student loan or itemized deductions.
- Premier, for investments, is $69.95.
- Self-Employed filing is $94.95.
Paid versions charge $54.95 per state.
With TaxAct, you can get expert advice if you have filing questions, for no extra charge. For an extra fee, outsource the job to a TaxAct professional.
TaxAct also offers a “deduction maximize” tool, which offers suggestions for deductions you haven’t considered.
H&R Block has one of the better free versions for simple W-2 returns, including unemployment, student loan deductions, child tax credits, and state filing for free.
- Deluxe ($54.99) lets you itemize deductions.
- Premium ($74.99) adds investments.
- Self-Employed ($114.99) adds contract work.
Paid versions charge $44.99 per state return.
You can also upgrade to extra virtual support and live assistance for $40-$60 depending on your plan.
While you can file in up to three states with H&R Block, you’ll pay for each additional state return.
Compared to Cash App Taxes, H&R Block has better customer support, with more relevant and informative search responses.
The Bottom Line
Cash App Taxes is one of the most cost-effective and (for mobile filers) convenient tax prep services out there. Though it lacks the support and guidance of other services, it should be sufficient for people with simple returns or a lot of tax confidence.