Credit Karma is best known for its consumer credit offerings. You can see estimates of your credit score, monitor aspects of your finances, and apply for credit cards and other loans.
However, this is the fourth year Credit Karma has offered tax preparation services, and its offering is attractive, with the company seen as a fairly popular tax preparer in the United States.
On top of helping you prepare and file your federal tax return, Credit Karma will also help you with your state filing for free. All you have to do is answer a few questions about your situation, and the online or mobile app will help you determine the best way to approach your taxes, including helping you determine what your filing status should be.
Credit Karma has made a few tweaks for this year, and it’s easier and smoother to use than previous versions.
Tax Prep Features
There are several features that make using Credit Karma for tax prep fairly painless. Unless you have a particularly complex situation, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to complete your tax return, whether you use a desktop, laptop, or mobile device.
- Import previous tax returns: Using Credit Karma’s Jumpstart feature, you can skip onboarding steps by uploading your 1040 from TaxAct, H&R Block, or TurboTax.
- Mobile filing: Credit Karma has a robust app that allows you to use your phone or tablet to take pictures and upload important documents.
- Tax return review: Before you file, Credit Karma will review your return and flag sections that might have been missed or that might need to be re-done.
- Audit defense: You can get third-party audit defense for free through a third party. You’ll get help answering audit questions or even get representation before the IRS or your state government if it’s needed.
- Guarantees: Credit Karma guarantees that you’ll get the maximum refund, or they’ll refund the difference, up to $100 in the form of a gift card. Additionally, if the IRS or your state penalizes you for inaccuracy, you can get up to $1,000 in the form of gift cards to offset the cost.
- W2 Importing: Credit Karma Tax has a photographic W-2 importing system. Simply snap a clear picture of your W-2, upload it through your account dashboard, and review the transcribed information field-by-field to confirm its accuracy. This is a great tool for taxpayers prepping their returns on smartphones or tablets with built-in cameras.
- Refund Display: Like most online tax prep programs, Credit Karma Tax has a real-time refund display that shows you exactly how much you can expect to get back from state and federal authorities – or, conversely, how much you owe. The amount changes with each new bit of relevant information.
- Free State Returns: Credit Karma Tax doesn’t charge for state tax filing – a major advantage over competitors, the vast majority of which charge for state returns in all but the most straightforward of tax situations. You’re entitled to one free state tax return per year. If you lived in or earned income in multiple states during the tax year, you need to look for another tax prep program.
- 100% Free: Credit Karma Tax is always free for all users. Anyone who can file a return with Credit Karma Tax does so at no out-of-pocket cost. While the platform’s software limitations exclude certain types of filers, such as married couples filing separately in community property states, the vast majority of U.S. taxpayers qualify
- Ease of Use: Credit Karma Tax has a user-friendly prep interface that looks great on smartphones and tablets. The super-clean design guides your eyes exactly where they need to go. I found the process very easy for beginners that simply want to file their basic taxes and be done.
- Mobile Friendly: Everything can be done on the mobile app including taking pics of your W-2 forms and inputting and submitting your information. You can also check your refund status from the app.
- Handles a Variety of Tax Situations: Most situations are supported by Credit Karma tax prep. You can itemize, report investment and rental income, and even file business returns.
- 24/7 Support: Credit Karma Tax has 24/7 human support available by live chat. To initiate a help session, you need to fill out a support ticket in the Tax Help Center. Support staffers are qualified to handle technical questions related to your account and platform experience, plus basic questions about your tax return itself.
- Limit of 1 State Return Per Filing: Credit Karma Tax only supports one state return per filing at present. This is obviously a problem for filers who moved across state lines or earned reportable income in multiple states during the tax year.
- No Support for Foreign Earned Income: You can’t report income earned from foreign sources with Credit Karma Tax. (IE: If you do business with or have rental properties outside of the US, you must look for an alternative provider to file online).
- Not as Robust as the Big Players: Credit Karma Tax doesn’t offer access to credentialed tax experts, such as CPAs. TurboTax offers screen share capabilities, and you can go into an H&R Block office. Credit Karma is lacking in specialized tax knowledge and only offers email support. Not recommended for the user with a more complex tax filing. (Small Business, Multiple Rentals, etc)
In summary, I really enjoy the tax offering from Credit Karma. They are gaining some ground in the competitive online tax market by offering a basic product that is easy to use and free to file. If you have a pretty simple tax return (W-2 job) and some other basic items, then you should give them a try.
- Disclaimer: This is a review of a 3rd party site. We may receive a commission if you choose to sign up with this service.