Tax season is never far away, especially if you pay quarterly tax bills. The best current and upcoming tax filing software programs help make the process simple, accurate and convenient. Each company creates programs with similar features to those provided by their competitors.
Every company also strives to add unique features to set its product apart from other programs. Read ahead to learn the best features (and some limitations) of the top tax software options available today.
How Does Tax Software Work?
Every tax software program has its top features. Some limitations also exist, although most of these are relevant to what features are included and how well they work for your needs. This means the best tax software is strongly suitable for your needs at an affordable price. The top tax return software programs for this approaching tax season include:
2. H&R Block Online.
5. Jackson Hewitt Online.
6. Credit Karma Tax.
TurboTax might be the best online tax filing system overall. H&R Block also offers in-person filing options, while TurboTax focuses its efforts for online-only customers. TurboTax has three pricing tiers and one free service option.
TurboTax price points for its Deluxe and Premier programs range from $60-$200 and $90-$170 respectively. The TurboTax self-employed cost ranges between $120-$200. The TurboTax free file option is obviously cost-effective but also only for Social Security benefits and basic W-2-based filing. The free option also does not accommodate itemized deductions. U.S. service members have access to all TurboTax programs at no cost. QuickBooks imports are fast and simple. Losses and gains from investment income are also easily imported into TurboTax programs. Prices are a little higher than most other paid options but the service itself is the gold-standard for online-only tax filing today.
The best tax service program is provided by one of the most well-known overall tax services in the U.S. today. H&R Block provides a powerful online service with multiple filing options. One top feature is the ability to import a tax return from a prior year, even if your previous taxes were filed using a different provider.
H&R Block prioritizes maximizing credits and deductions for filers who possess a Health Savings Account (HSA). This feature is only available with paid program tiers, however. Free, Deluxe, Premium and Self-Employed programs are available. The self-employed federal tax filing program is the most expensive, which is really the only other con to using H&R Block online. Additional pros include:
- Four filing options.
- Streamlined user interface.
- Name recognition.
The best tax accounting software for small businesses is sold by TaxAct. Prices for the TaxAct Deluxe, Premier and Self-Employed programs range from $47.95 to $94.95 with variations between state and federal options.
The TaxAct free program is available for federal filings only (state still costs $39.95 per state). Active U.S. service members are given free access to federal and state filing via the proprietary TaxAct military landing page. The self-employed program includes filing for freelance, farm-based, and general business purposes. Additional pros of using TaxAct include:
- Up to $100,000 maximum refund guarantee.
- Convenient foreign bank and financial account forms.
- User-friendly dashboard.
- Powerful Tax Tools tab calculator.
TaxSlayer is one of the most affordable options on the market today. The TaxSlayer self-employed program pricing is only $55, which is significantly lower than the prices offered by competitors. TaxSlayer also provides live chat support facilitated by legitimate tax professionals. Users also receive helpful tax payment estimate notifications.
Any cons to using TaxSlayer programs start with the free online tax filing option having less features than competing free programs. Also, as-is typical with many online tax filing programs, active U.S. service members access programs for free but are still required to pay a state filing fee ($39 per state). Overall, TaxSlayer is a well-functioning program with great prices for self-employed filers and standard features at lower prices than those offered by competitors.
The Jackson Hewitt Online tax filing system is best for filers who prefer assistance from tax professionals when filing taxes. Knowledgeable and comprehensive customer support options are available both online and in-person. DIY filing options are available in addition to pricier programs with detailed filing platforms. Online, Standard Tax Pro from Home, Deluxe Tax Pro from Home and Premier Tax Pro from Home programs are available.
While unlimited state returns cost a $24 fee across-the-board, other paid programs cost between $69 and $249. High prices might be the biggest or only con to using Jackson Hewitt online, however. IRS audit assistance is included with customer support. Paid programs include options for unlimited W-2s, student loan interest, unemployment income and dividend income ($1,500 maximum). The company’s reputation is also strong and reliable. Filers who use Jackson Hewitt Online understand they receive benefits and guidance from experienced and skilled support agents every step of the way.
If you are looking for reliable free online tax filing, look no further than Credit Karma Tax. FreeTaxUSA is another viable option for free filing. Credit Karma Tax has no paid versions, however, making it one of the only truly free tax return software programs on the market. Comprehensive state and federal return options are offered despite the company providing free-of-charge services.
Navigation tools are user-friendly. The proprietary Smart File feature allows for a simple 1040 import. In fact, prior returns filed with other companies or programs are also easily importable. The Credit Karma Tax mobile app and computer program are designed with simplicity and accuracy in mind, especially for DIY filers. Unfortunately, the program is only available in forty U.S. states and does not support investment income filing. Calculations are guaranteed, however, and backed up by a $1,000 payment to you if the company makes a mistake. Credit Karma Tax is an excellent choice if you are a DIY filer looking for a free option with audit defense protection.
E-File.com offers one of the top online tax services at affordable prices today. E-File.com prices are even cheaper than those offered by TaxSlayer, making it one of the most affordable options on the market. The major con to using E-File.com is the absence of free customer support options. All on-demand customer support options are available for purchase only.
The filing process takes only fifteen minutes on average, however. Make no mistake: E-File.com is an affordable DIY online tax filing platform suited best for filers with simple returns. Promo codes and discounts are offered all year round as well. If your tax return is basic and you need a fast, affordable option to get the job done, E-File.com is an excellent choice for you.