So, you need to do your taxes on your Chromebook.
Tax season is quickly approaching, and we’ve all had a nice extended “break” from doing the same old chore once again.
Let’s make this as easy as possible (where’s my easy button?) and go over the process of filing and prepping taxes on Chrome OS.
On this page, you’ll learn:
- How to do taxes on a Chromebook
- Popular tax programs that are compatible with Chrome OS
- What to do if you need to use an unsupported tax software
- Common FAQs regarding filing taxes on a Chromebook
- And more
Sound good? Let’s make this major headache into a minor one as much as we can and get this over with.
Last updated: 1/7/21. These tax software still work on Chrome OS going into 2021.
Can I do my taxes on Chromebook?
Yes, you can use various tax preparation software on Chrome OS.
There are just two requirements:
- The tax software must be web-based (online through the browser)
- The software shouldn’t require any additional downloads (plugins, players, etc.)
As long as it meets both of these requirements, it should run on a Chromebook.
As of 2021, the various software continue to make updated versions that account for the new tax laws this year. The programs on this list are fully compatible with Chrome OS at the time of this writing.
Why doesn’t my Chromebook work with my tax program?
The most common reason why your Chromebooks fail to install or run a specific tax program is because it’s likely an executable (.exe) file.
This is a format made for Windows PC and will NOT run on Chrome OS. Ever.
Chrome OS is the operating system (OS) that powers your Chromebook. Executable files aren’t readable by Chrome OS.
So they’ll never work.
There’s no way around this without installing another OS like Linux (which we’ll cover in a bit), or doing some bypassing (which we’ll touch on also).
As you already know, your Chromebook has no optical drive (“CD” drive). This already eliminates many softwares that rely on a disc delivery medium.
Sure, you can download the digital version of the program online. But that’s no different than downloading it off a disc. They’re both .exe files. And they’ll both fail to install on a Chromebook.
This applies to some of the most popular tax prep programs like H&R Block, TurboTax, Quicken, etc.
Chrome OS is very simple. It can’t install any third-party programs that you download off the Internet.
You may be used to just downloading a file, installing it, and seeing the icon popup on your desktop to double-click. Sadly, on a Chromebook, this is not the case.
This makes Chromebooks extremely secure, protects them against trojans and viruses, and keeps them easy to use.
But at the cost of program compatibility.
- Chromebooks will NOT work with any software that requires a disc to install
- Chromebooks can’t run .exe file formats
- Chrome OS can’t install any third-party programs
So that’s why your laptop may be having trouble installing that disc or running that .exe file.
Then what CAN my Chromebook run for tax preparation?
Here’s the TL:DR answer:
- Web-based versions
- Use a Chrome extension
- Download a Play Store app
Any software that has at least one of these three versions SHOULD work theoretically.
Thankfully, most modern programs do run over the browser and eliminate the need for installing anything- and this allows them to work on Chromebook.
H&R Block has a Play Store app. TurboTax has a browser version. Depending on whatever program you’re using, do some research and see what they offer.
As long as they match one of these, you can use tax preparation software on your Chromebook.
Can you file taxes with a Chromebook?
Chromebooks can definitely file, prep, and submit your tax paperwork electronically.
Depending on how well-optimized the software is, the medium you’re using to access it, and how powerful your Chromebook is, the performance varies.
Sometimes you may experience sluggishness or freezing if you have a weaker device.
But most Chromebooks should be able to handle web-based versions directly through the Chrome browser. Do your taxes anywhere- that’s the benefit of having the portability of a laptop! Coffee shops, malls, airports, work, and anywhere else that has a WiFi connection.
Of course, you’ll definitely want to make sure you have a VPN to protect your sensitive details.
TurboTax is one of the most popular tax prep programs on the planet and is dubbed as the pioneer of DIY tax software.
Thankfully, this software has an online version that runs on Chrome, which then makes it compatible with Chromebooks!
Can you use TurboTax on a Chromebook?
Yes, TurboTax by Intuit works through the Chrome Browser.
This is the ONLY option possible. You can’t “install” the software through a disc because Chromebooks don’t have optical drives. You also can’t download the software online and then install it because Chrome OS doesn’t support third-party programs.
So running TurboTax through the browser is the only option. And thankfully, the software fully supports the Chrome Browser (Chrome 73 or higher).
How do I install TurboTax on my Chromebook?
You can’t install TurboTax on Chrome OS. And you don’t need to. You can run it directly through the browser using the web-based version.
This is convenient because NO installations, downloads, or waiting times are necessary.
Web-based software is the new standard and many popular companies are offering their entire suite of tools through the browser (cloud).
How to use TurboTax on Chrome OS
It’s easy. All you need is a paid license for the current tax year which you can buy online through their site.
After that, do the following steps:
- Sign in to your Chromebook.
- Launch Chrome (you can find the Chrome Browser by clicking on the Launcher icon at the bottom left of the screen).
- Head on over to TurboTax.
- Sign in to your account.
That’s it. You can then use the software online and do your tax prep. As long as your Chrome Browser is up to date, you should be able to run the program smoothly.
If you experience slowness or lag, it may help to close all other tabs and apps to free up resources. You can also check out other ways to speed up your laptop.
You can use the mobile version of Quicken through the Google Play Store.
This may work with your Chromebook if you have a newer model (2017 or later). Note that this is JUST the mobile version that’s made for phones.
You may not have access to all the features and functionality you need to do your work.
Plus, there may be some compatibility issues with the keyboard and touchpad since it was made for a touchscreen phone.
If you need the full version of Quicken, Quicken, Quicken Deluxe, Quicken Premier, you’ll need to find another workaround to get them working on your Chromebook.
You may be able to get them working through Chrome Remote Desktop, but it’s a complicated process.
But there’s no way to get them installed directly onto your device, as Chrome OS doesn’t run the software.
H&R Block has an online version just like TurboTax and works with Chromebooks.
You can file your taxes through the Chrome Browser and file as needed. Just be sure you’re using the latest version of Chrome for the best experience.
Can you use H&R Block on a Chromebook? Yes. Just either use the online version for the easiest way to get going.
H&R Block also has an app on the Play Store that you may be able to download to your Chromebook. Not all devices will support the app, especially older ones.
But if you prefer to use their app, you can search for it on the Play Store and see if you can install it on your Chromebook.
There’s no real reason to do it this way when you have the online browser version available. It’s the same thing but an extra step.
But I wanted to mention this option just for the people who prefer to use the app.
Alternatives ways to use Windows-based tax software on Chrome OS
Here are some other ways you can consider getting specific software to run on your Chromebook.
While they may be more technical, it can spark some ideas for those who are willing to put in the work.
WINE and Linux
WINE supports these programs according to their database:
Because it’s being emulated in a virtual environment, you may experience performance problems (lag, slowness, crashing, freezing, etc.).
While this sounds like a lot more work than it’s worth, it may be worth considering if you REALLY need to use some program that has on your PC that doesn’t work on Chromebook.
The process is as follows: Get your Chromebook into Developer Mode > Download Crouton > Download Ubuntu > Get WINE > Get your tax program and use it.
Chrome Remote Desktop
You can connect remotely to your Windows PC from your Chromebook to file your taxes. This is useful for those who have everything already installed on their PC, but want to access it on their laptop.
Chrome Remote Desktop (CRD) is an extension that you add to Chrome. It’s free to use and lets your PC do all the heavy lifting (processing) while you “view” it on your Chromebook.
Your laptop basically acts as an external monitor that lets you use the keyboard and touchpad (or USB mouse) controls. CRD works anywhere in the world, as long as both devices are powered on and connected to the Internet. Pretty nifty, huh?
This can prove to be useful for anyone who:
- Has a tax program installed on their PC
- Bought the program on a disc and can’t install on their Chromebook
- Are used to using tax prep software on their Windows computer
The general overview of the process is: Download CRD on both your devices > Set up your PC as the host computer > Get the security code from your PC > Plug it into your Chromebook > Use your tax program as needed.
CrossOver is software that lets you run Windows programs on Chrome OS.
Although this is unnecessary for most applications since you can access an online version, you can consider it for Windows-based tax software that doesn’t have a browser-based version.
So if you’re used to software on your PC and MUST use it on your Chromebook, you may be able to get it running with CrossOver.
This is paid software and requires a license to use. You can find out more information on their site.
Alternative tax software for Chromebooks
If you don’t plan to use TurboTax or H&R Block to file your taxes, there are two more options for you to consider.
TaxAct works through the browser and you can file online similar to other leading software.
The major difference (and why I think it’s not as popular) is simply because the layout isn’t as user-friendly as TurboTax.
For new users and first-time filers, it can be overwhelming to navigate and know what to do next. There’s a free federal edition (just like any other leading software) and a premium edition. TaxAct should work directly through Chrome on your Chromebook.
Credit Karma is one of the biggest credit monitoring services available. They’ve recently begun to offer tax prep also, and it works through Chrome so you can run it on your Chromebook.
The federal edition is free to use and is completely online.
No need to download or install any software. Compared to TaxAct, it’s a lot more intuitive and simpler to use in my opinion. Regardless, it’s another free tax prep alternative that works on Chromebooks.
Here are some other common questions that occur when filing taxes online using a Chromebook.
What version of Chrome do I have?
You should always be using the latest version of Chrome to ensure you have the best experience possible.
Updates also fix security threats and apply the latest developments for browsers. If you experience slow response, freezing, crashing, or other performance problems when trying to file online, you may be able to fix it by updating Chrome.
Click on the menu icon at the top-right in Chrome > Help > About Google Chrome.
Chrome will then check for updates and you can apply them automatically.
Your Chromebook will update itself to the newest version as long as you’re connected to WiFi and you restart your device.
Remember: Restarting doesn’t mean putting it to hibernate/sleep mode. It means doing an actual shut down/turn on cycle.
My Chromebook is running slow when I work- how do I fix it?
If your device is slow, it could be due to multiple reasons.
The most obvious one is resource usage. If you have a lot of tabs, programs, apps, etc. running in the background, this can quickly bring your Chromebook down to a halt. Close out of anything else and ONLY have the tax software open, along with any other necessary PDFs or important documents you need to prep.
If it’s still slow, check the resource usage on your Chromebook and kill any programs that are hogging up the available RAM or CPU.
Also consider doing a restart of your device. And when you log back in again, don’t launch anything else but Chrome and your tax program.
Lastly, your Chromebook may just be too weak to handle the software.
Anything from a stuck script, memory leak, or high resource demand from the program can spike resource usage and your device may not have enough RAM or CPU to allocate. You also may consider purchasing a more powerful Chromebook if you’re doing professional tax work.
You can check out these tutorials which you may find useful:
I bought the program at the store but I can’t install it on my Chromebook
That’s correct. Chromebooks don’t have optical drives so there’s no way to install anything off of a disc.
Although there’s a complicated method to add an external CD reader to your Chromebook, it’s not easy and probably not worth the time.
You should return the product and get a refund.
Which tax programs work on my Chromebook?
The requirements are pretty much straightforward.
As long as whatever software you plan to use has an online version that’s compatible with Chrome, you should have no issues. If it needs to install a plugin, script, or download something, it’s not going to work.
You’ll want to seek out software that works directly through the browser and doesn’t need any other dependencies.
Do I need to use Chrome to file my taxes?
On a Chromebook, Chrome is the only supported browser (makes sense since Google owns Chrome OS/Chromebooks).
Therefore, it’s the only browser that works out of the box. If you’re handy and have Ubuntu (by using Beta, Live Linux, or the old-fashioned way) on your machine, you can actually use whatever Linux-supported browser you want as an alternative to Chrome (Firefox, Opera, Vivaldi, etc.).
But for everyone else, just stick with Chrome if you want to keep things easy.
Did you file your taxes on your Chromebook?
That’s all I have for you.
By now, you should have a clear understanding of the various income tax programs that work on Chromebooks and how to use them.
Chrome OS is a versatile system and is compatible with a variety of tax prep software to get the job done.
Although not all software is compatible, most programs do have a web-based version and that definitely seems like where the world is headed. I mean, when was the last time you installed something off a disc?
Modern laptops don’t even come equipped with optical drives anymore to read those discs!
If you have any questions, drop a comment below and I’ll help you out if I can.
Also, if you found this page to be helpful, please let me know by leaving some quick feedback!
Thanks for reading!