In 2017, Credit Karma Tax impressed me with an easy to use and intuitive question and answer interface that offered truly free tax filing services.
However, as tax season progressed, we quickly learned that not all was well with Credit Karma Tax - with users discovering bugs, forms not available, states having issues, and more.
Unfortunately, in 2018 the free filing service actually regressed. While it’s still free, Credit Karma Tax did away with the question and answer format, and it’s buggier and more difficult to navigate.
Unlike last year, this year I’m recommending that filers should stay away from Credit Karma Tax.
- Free Filing
- We found it buggy and hard to navigate
- Lots of user complaints last year, poor customer service
Credit Karma Tax Video Review
Credit Karma Tax Navigation
If there’s one area where Credit Karma Tax dropped the ball this year, it’s in the software navigation.
Credit Karma no longer offers an easy and intuitive question and answer style navigation, and important aspects of the software are hidden in “Less Common Items” tabs.
Even after quite a bit of hunting, I couldn’t find where to add self-employment retirement contributions and the system hid “Dividend Income and Interest Income” from me under the “It doesn’t apply to you” tab.
Here you can see the funky "Hidden Features" that may apply to you. It includes entire forms that should apply to almost everyone.
It makes no sense to me why Credit Karma discarded their simple Q&A interface, but it’s a huge loss. Credit Karma went from having one of the best navigation experiences in 2017, to one of the worst this year.
Credit Karma Tax Ease Of Use
Credit Karma Tax has a few features that make it easy to use. These include helpful “info bubbles” that contain useful knowledge articles that can get users moving in the right direction.
Combining info bubbles with a pleasant looking user interface, and import options for W-2 forms makes it appropriate for some people looking to file simple returns.
Unfortunately, Credit Karma’s clunky navigation got in the way of its ease of use. Not only does it require you to hunt for the forms that apply to you, you have to use multiple screens to fill out single forms. The multiple screen issue isn’t too bad when it’s part of a Q&A format, but when you’ve done the work to find the form it’s easier to review it yourself.
I also found that Credit Karma Tax inexplicably hit Bad Gateways and sometimes kicked me out of screens for no apparent reason. My guess is that these issues will be fixed by the time filing rolls around, but this seems like a bad way to start the tax season.
Credit Karma Tax Knowledge Articles
If you become totally lost in the tax software, Credit Karma’s tax knowledge center is not helpful at all. They have a few knowledge articles (none helped me solve my problem), and last year’s software specialists were virtually non-responsive to emails after filing started.
As I mentioned earlier, the “in-software” knowledge articles are actually some of the best in the industry, and I’m thankful that Credit Karma Tax didn’t dispose of those.
The bottom line is, if you find yourself needing help with your taxes or the software, don't count on Credit Karma to help. You get what you pay for - pretty much nothing.
Credit Karma Tax Pricing And Plans
The one positive to Credit Karma Tax is that they offer completely free state and Federal filing. If you think you might find the user experience better than I did, it’s an option for you.
One bright spot for Credit Karma is it's Early Bird Advance. Early filers may qualify for an interest free loan of $500, $750 or $1,000. The advance comes on a prepaid American Express Serve card. The IRS will send your refund to Credit Karma's banking partner (MetaBank). Metabank will pay off the advance and send the rest to you.
Who Should Use Credit Karma Tax In 2018?
Unfortunately, I’m not bullish on Credit Karma Tax in 2018. After last years problems, and this years lack of improvements, I don't think many people should consider Credit Karma Tax.
The difficulty I had finding critical deductions (like self-employment retirement plan contributions) make me wary of recommending this to anyone with complex filing requirements. Rental property owners who own just one or two houses might find that Credit Karma is a good deal, and people who itemize using charitable contributions and mortgage deductions will see that Credit Karma is a better deal than other services.
However, my experience with Credit Karma left me unwilling to give a wholehearted recommendation to anyone (including people who hate paying for tax filing).
** Editors Note: due to the high volume of comments and concerns about this software, we left last year's comments available for readers to see. Please check the dates on comments before making any assumptions.
Credit Karma Tax
We look at Credit Karma Tax Software, which promises free tax filing. It actually turned out to have a bunch of problems in year 1, and it doesn’t get much better in year 2.