Tax season can be a stressful and confusing time if you don't have the right preparation service. With the development of online tax filing software and services, the days of hiring an in-person CPA or tax preparer to complete your returns is a thing of the past.
Online tax filing services are a cheaper, more convenient option for most taxpayers. In addition, automated tax filing software not only can efficiently find you all the deductions you qualify for, the services typically guarantee their estimated refund calculations.
Here is our list of the best online tax filing services currently available on the market:
The first two online tax filing options offer a lower price for their services, but provide bare-bones convener when it comes to support and audit assistance. Consider these options if you have a straightforward tax return, or are highly confident you will file an accurate tax return that maximizes your refund, and faces minimal audit risk.
TaxSlayer: An Affordable Alternative To TurboTax and H&R Block
While TurboTax has established itself as the go-to online tax filing software, there are several lower-cost alternatives on the market.
One of the best budget options available is TaxSlayer. While cheaper than the competition, TaxSlayer has many of the bells and whistles you can find on services such as TurboTax.
TaxSlayer offers a user-friendly site that is sufficient in terms of ease-of-use relative to the higher-cost options available. The difference in price (50%) compared to higher-priced competitors may give you the incentive to sacrifice minimal differences in interface quality.
TaxSlayer allows you to enter W-2 information via smart photo, saving you lots of time and preventing the inevitable errors that arise from manual entry. This is especially helpful if you work or worked at several jobs during the tax year, and need to enter multiple W-2 forms.
For taxpayers with an adjusted gross income below the IRS-set threshold for the tax year, you can use TaxSlayer's Free File option. This option allows you to complete the 1040EZ form free of charge.
Paid versions of the site are definitely affordable. The “Classic” version of the service costs only $24 for federal filing ($29 for state filing).
The Premium tier of TaxSlayer costs $44 for federal filing, $29 for paid filing.
If you are self-employed, the Self-Employed tier TaxSlayer program will set you back $47 to file federally, $29 to file state.
The Premium version, as well as the Self-Employed edition of TaxSlayer both come with audit assistance services.
One area that is lacking with the TaxSlayer package is customer support. Help from a tax professional (Enrolled Agent and/or tax preparer) is only included in the higher-cost tiers of the product). This help is not instantaneous, and there will be a 24-48 hour lag time before you receive and answer to your tax question.
One downside to TaySlayer are the many caveats to their audit assistant features. Unlike with higher-cost competitors, you will not receive audit support with every package, only the higher-tier packages include it for free-it costs $29.99 as an add-on for the Basic-tier.
While it is included in the self-employed package, if you are a Schedule C filer (freelancer, sole proprietor), you cannot receive audit assistance. Audit assistance is also only available in case of federal, but not state, audits.
Most importantly, TaxSlayer does not offer audit defense services; if you happen to get audited, you will have to seek help from third-party provider.
All in all, TaxSlayer is a strong budget option for a taxpayer confident in filing an accurate return. If you require assistance for your tax questions, or are concerned you will face an audit, it may be beneficial to sacrifice the low-cost TaxSlayer for a higher-priced service that offers the level of service you may require.
TaxAct: Another Budget Option
Compared to TaxSlayer, TaxAct may be a stronger budget tax preparation option. The service has features comparable to the more expensive TurboTax and H&R Block software programs.
If you are comfortable preparing your taxes with minimal “Q&A style” questions, TaxAct may be the right software for your federal and state filing. If you are less confident in your ability to fill out a return that is both accurate and gets you all of the deductions and credits you qualify for, consider the higher-priced options on the market. If you are debating TaxAct versus TurboTax, remember that the difference in ease of use may be minimal, and this budget option may give you the tools you need to maximize your refund.
Like TaxSlayer, there is a free filing option for taxpayers below the IRS-set income threshold. This service will allow you to file 1040EZ returns free of charge.
TaxAct offers live support from an Enrolled Agent or a CPA. This added support is included with the paid packages only.
TaxAct offers several tiers for its paid options. The Basic paid service will set you back $14.95 for a federal filing, but state filings can be done for free.
The Deluxe version, which includes a $100,000 accuracy guarantee, costs $29.95 to file a federal return, $36.95 for a state return.
The Premier+ tier, which is for taxpayers with investment income to include on their tax return, costs $34.95 to file federal, $36.95 to file state.
If you a self-employed, if you are interested in TaxAct you will need their Self-Employed tier product. This will cost $49.95 to complete a federal return, $36.95 to complete a state income tax return.
TaxAct includes the bells and whistles you expect from the major tax preparation software providers. These include W-2 importing, various calculators and other deduction tools, assistance when determining deductible charitable donations, as well as the ability to import your tax return from the prior tax year. W-2 forms can be seamless uploaded via a smart camera on your phone.
TaxAct's software is in the cloud, allowing you to access your return from any device.
TaxAct does not include their own in-house audit assistance, but does sell a third-party assistance product. This product offers to provide audit assistance services for three years following the filing of the tax return.
Both of these budget-friendly options can be sufficient depending on your tax filing needs. Here are two more expensive options for online tax filing. These services justify their higher sticker price by offering more comprehensive tax preparation services.
H&R Block: An Old School Tax Preparer Adapted to the Digital Age
H&R Block may seem like a dinosaur in an era where tax returns can be filed with a click of a button. But the established in-person tax preparation service offers an online application that will meet your expectations of efficient, reliable, and dependable federal and state tax filing services.
H&R Block offers a free filing service for taxpayers who qualify for free federal filing. This free version will allow you to file 1040EZ returns.
For paid versions of the application, H&R Block offers three tiers: Deluxe (which costs $49.99 to complete a federal filing, $39.99 to complete a state filing), Premium (which costs $69.99 to complete a federal filing, and $39.99 to complete a state filing), and Self-Employed ($94.99 for federal, $39.99 for state).
The Deluxe version of the site is a solid choice is you have a large number of deductions to itemize. However, if you are a freelancer, you will at least need the premium version in order to complete your federal filing.
The Premium version is tailored for those with investment-related income (dividend income, real estate income, capital gains).
The Self-Employed version is a must have if you are a freelance, independent contractor, or small business filer. This product has many features beneficial in the “gig economy”, including the ability to import tax information for Uber drivers. If you use the Stride app to track your drive-share app related expenses, H&R Block's Self-Employed tier service will seamlessly integrate this information.
All tiers of the H&R Block online tax preparation software include some of the business support options available.
Each paid version of the software includes a free live chat option, allowing you to ask a tax expert (CPA or Enrolled Agent) for guidance relating to your tax return.
H&R Block also offers an add-on feature called Tax Pro Review. Prices vary based on what package you purchase, but the cost will be between $49.99-$89.99.
The price of this add-on is competitive with similar services offered by TurboTax.
Another great add-on ($19.99) is the Worry-Free Audit Support feature. This will provide you with correspondence management, preparation for your audit, as well as in-person representation by an Enrolled Agent in the event you face an audit.
TurboTax: The Established Choice For Online Tax Filing
TurboTax may be a more expensive tax-preparation option, but it more than makes up for it with a suite of premium features, a user-friendly interface, and some of the best customer and audit support in the business.
If you qualify to file your taxes using the 1040EZ form, you can complete and file your federal return free of charge. State return will cost you $29.99 to file and complete if you are eligible for this option.
The Deluxe tier of TurboTax is the choice for you if you need to itemize deductions, but if you have any investment-related income you will need the Premier-tier version of the paid service. The Deluxe version of TurboTax will cost you $59.99 to complete your federal return, $39.99 to complete your state return.
The Premier tier of TurboTax will allow you to report income from investments, including rental property income, dividend income, and capital gains. This version costs $79.99 to complete a federal return, $39.99 to complete a state return.
If you are Self-Employed, TurboTax's Self-Employed package is just for you. TurboTax Self-Employed is your one-stop shop if you are a small business owner, an independent contractor, or simply side-hustling to supplement your main income. With this package, you will receive a suite of expense-tracking and deduction-calculation features. The Self-Employed package costs $119.99 to complete a federal return, $39.99 to complete a state return.
TurboTax continues to offer the most user-friendly interface across all online tax preparation services. With the “Q&A” style of going through your return, gone are the days of staring at a sterile tax forms. TurboTax supports smart-camera uploading of W-2 forms, making entering in income from multiple employers a breeze.
While the TurboTax live package offers the best support options, TurboTax includes real-time support from tax experts with all paid versions of the service. If you need detailed support from an Enrolled Agent or CPA, purchasing the premium TurboTax Live package may be your better option.
In terms of audit support, TurboTax provides a free consultation with a tax professional to go through your case, providing guidance on how to prepare for an audit with the IRS.
For more sophisticated and detailed audit defense, consider purchasing the “Max Assist and Defend” package. This package, which will set you back $44.99, will give you live representation by a tax professional when your audit case goes before the IRS.
Bottom Line: Which Online Tax Preparation Service Works For You?
The four online tax filing services we detailed today may be the best choice given your unique tax filing situation.
If you have a simple return, and want the most budget-friendly option possible, consider TaxSlayer or TaxAct. If you are highly confident in filing your taxes, these low-cost alternatives may be just the ticket to getting your annual return out the door. TaxAct is the the stronger budget choice, given the bare-bones support coverage offered by TaxSlayer.
If you need a little hand-holding before sending your return to the IRS or state tax authorities, consider the more expensive H&R Block or TurboTax packages.
In a tight race between H&R Block and TurboTax, TurboTax may offer you the best bang for your buck in terms of features and ease-of-use.
General Questions about Filing Taxes Online
Anything involving taxes is confusing. This section will answer your general questions about filing taxes online. Use this section to get a good understanding of how online filing works so you can move on to more advanced questions.
How to File Taxes Online?
You have several options to file taxes online. You can use a tax service like TurboTax or H&R Block, or you can do your taxes yourself and file them online through the IRS website.
How to File Taxes Online for Free?
There’re a few ways to file taxes online for free. If you do your own taxes, then you can file for free through the IRS website. You can also use the free versions of TurboTax or H&R Block if you’re filing a 1040EZ.
Can I File My Taxes Online without a W2?
Maybe, if you have a 1099 or a series of 1099’s, then you can file your taxes online. You can also claim income that you don’t have a 1099 or a W2 for and file online.
Can You File Back Taxes Online for Free?
You cannot eFile tax returns for a previous year. You can get the forms you need for that years taxes online, but you must file by mail.
How to File Income Tax Online Step by Step?
First, you’ll need to gather all of your information, including receipts, healthcare information, and so on. Next, choose an e-file option. Fill out your tax forms, and then e-file your taxes through the IRS or your selected tax filing service.
How Easy Is It to do Taxes Online?
It’s really easy to do taxes online. This is especially true if you use a tax filing service like TurboTax or H&R Block. These services ask you easy questions about your income and finances to help you get the best return.
How to eFile Income Tax Return Individual Online?
You have several options to eFile an individual income tax return online. You can do so for free through the IRS website. You can also use one of the many online tax filing services like TurboTax or H&R Block. The tax filing services will also help you fill out your tax return to maximize your refund.
How to Change Bank Details in Income Tax Refund Online?
You can’t change your bank details with the IRS. If they aren’t able to complete the direct deposit, then they will mail a paper check to the address listed on your return.
Where to Get Tax Forms Online?
The IRS website is the best place to get tax forms online. The forms are listed by the type of return you’re filing, so it will be easy to track down the forms you need.
What is Needed to File Taxes Online?
That depends on your particular financial situation. You’ll need any income statements, like a W2 or 1099. You’ll also need tax forms from college loans, health insurance providers, investments, and so on. You’ll also need the receipts for any items you want to claim as a deduction.
Is Filing Your Taxes Online Safe?
Yes. Online tax filing services use bank-level encryption software, as does the IRS. That means your information will be protected and secure.
How Long Does It take to File Your Taxes Online?
It’s really fast to file taxes online. Most online tax services work to make the process easy. They’ll ask simple questions and use your answers to fill out the forms. That means many people find that filing taxes online is much faster than filing them through the mail.
How to File a 1099 Tax Return Online?
You can use your 1099-Misc to file a tax return online just like you’d file any other type of tax return. The 1099 form just states that you earned income from a particular place, it doesn’t change how you actually file your taxes.
Can Resident Aliens File Tax Online?
Yes. Resident Aliens can file taxes can use the exact same filing services that US Citizens use. There’s no restrictions on how you can file your taxes.
What the Catch with Free Tax Filing Online?
The catch with free online tax filing for the various tax filing companies is that the only type of return they’ll file for free is a 1040EZ, which isn’t appropriate for most tax payers. You can’t claim deductions or credits on a 1040EZ.
Can I File My Taxes Online Myself?
Yes, you can do your taxes yourself and then file online through the IRS website. Just go to the IRS website and look for the link to e-file your taxes.
Can You File Your First Tax Return Online?
Yes, there’s no restrictions on filing your first tax return online. You can use the IRS website or an online service like TurboTax or H&R Block.
Where Can You File Back Taxes Online?
You can’t file back taxes online. Back taxes must be mailed in to the IRS. This is true regardless of the tax preparation service you use.
Can I File My Taxes Online Late?
You can if you file for an extension. You can do this through the IRS website or through an online tax preparation service like H&R Block or TaxAct.
Tracking Tax Filings Online
Lots of people want to track the progress of their tax return once they’ve filed. We’ll cover questions about how to track your tax return online in this section.
How to Look Up My Tax Return Online?
That depends on how you filed your taxes. If you used an online tax filing service, then you can look up the status of your return through that service. You can also track your return online with your social security number, filing status, and your exact refund amount.
How Do I Check My Tax Refund Online?
You can check the status of your tax refund online with a couple key pieces of information. You’ll need your Social Security Number, the exact amount of your refund, and your tax filing status. This will allow you to track your return through the IRS. If you used a tax preparation service, then that service will have its own way to track your return.
How to Track Tax Refund Online?
That depends on how you did your taxes. People that used an online tax filing service like TurboTax can track their refund through that service. If you filed your taxes yourself, then you can check your return through the IRS by providing your Social Security Number, Filing Status, and exact amount of your return.
How to Get a Copy of Tax Return Online?
There are two options to get a copy of your tax return online. You can use the tax preparation service you employed, if you chose to use one. You can also use the IRS website by clicking on “Order a Transcript”
How to Check the Status of Income Tax Return Online?
The best way to check the status of your income tax return is to use a tax preparation service like H&R Block, which will show you your status in real time. You can also check the IRS website using your SSN, filing status, and exact return amount.
Amending Tax Returns Online
Lots of people have questions about how to amend their tax return. We’ll answer questions about filing amended returns online here.
Can You File an Amended Tax Return Online?
No, you’ll need to mail your amended tax return in. To do so you’ll need to start with IRS form 1040X, which is the amended US Individual Income Tax Return form.
How Long Does It Take to Amend Taxes Online?
You can’t file an amended tax return online. You’ll need to begin the process by completing form 1040X and any other appropriate forms for your situation. Then you’ll need to mail them in to the IRS.
Choosing a Service to File Taxes Online
There are a ton of different online tax filing services. This section will answer your questions about how to choose a service to file your taxes online.
Where to File Taxes Online?
That depends on your particular financial situation. If you’re filing a 1040EZ, then any of the free online tax services are a great choice. If you have more complex taxes, then you’ll want to be sure that your tax filing service matches the complexity of your taxes. The different tax preparation services explain which product is best for you based on your situation.
What Is the Best Online Tax Service to Use?
The best online tax service to use depends on your particular taxes. People with very simple taxes can use any of the free options. If you have rental property or investments, then we recommend TurboTax Deluxe. If you’re self-employed, then TurboTax Self-Employed is a great option.
What Is the Best Free Online Tax Service to Use?
Depending on how complex your taxes are, either the IRS’s free filing service, or any of the free services from tax preparation companies. TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxAct, and others will do a free filing on a 1040EZ, which is a simple form. There’s no difference in the return you’ll get from these companies.
Where Can I Get My Taxes Done for Free Online?
Getting your taxes done for free online is nearly impossible. If you’ve got a very simple tax situation, then your best bet is either the free service from TaxAct, H&R Block, or TurboTax.
What is the Cheapest Online Tax Filing Service?
The IRS has the cheapest online tax filing service – it’s completely free. Other than that, it depends on the complexity of your taxes. You should find the comparable products from TaxAct, TurboTax, and H&R Block that work for your situation and then compare the prices.
Where to File Tax Return Online for Free?
You can file a tax return online for free with the IRS website or with any of the major tax preparation services. However, the tax preparation services only offer free online filing for 1040EZ returns.
Does Online Tax Filing Get the Best Refund?
In theory any tax filing should get the same refund. However, people usually get better results with online filing because the services translate tax documents into simple questions that make it easy to answer and find more deductions.
What is Best Rated Free Tax Filing Online?
The free tax filing services are all rated the same. TaxAct, TurboTax, H&R Block, and others all only offer free tax filing on form 1040EZ, which is a very simple form that doesn’t allow for deductions. That means they’ll all produce the same results.
What Free Online Tax File Gets the Biggest Refund?
All of the free online tax filing services will get the same refund. The free services only work for form 1040EZ, which only allows for the standard deduction. That means these services will all produce the same result.
Why is Filing Taxes Online So Expensive?
Filing taxes online is expensive because of how complex the software has to be. Tax codes are very complex. Online tax filing services translate the tax code into easy-to-understand questions to help you maximize your refund.
Filing Taxes Online with TurboTax
TurboTax is the best-known online tax filing service. That means people have lots of questions about how it works. Well answer those questions here.
Can I File My Taxes Online with TurboTax?
Yes. You can file online with either the TurboTax software or TurboTax’s online service. Both options give you the option to print your return and mail it or to file online with the IRS.
How to File Taxes Online TurboTax?
It’s easy to file your taxes online with TurboTax. Just create an account and answer the questions that the service asks you. When you’re done, you’ll get the option to print and file or file online. Make your choice and you’re good to go!
Is It Safe to File Taxes Online with TurboTax?
Yes, TurboTax uses bank-level encryption software and has been thoroughly vetted by the IRS. Your information and return will be complete safe.
Can I File My Taxes Free using TurboTax Online?
You can if you’re filing a 1040EZ form. This is the simplest tax form and only lets you take the standard deduction, you can’t itemize deductions. It’s not the best option for most taxpayers.
Can I File My Taxes Through TurboTax Online?
Yes, TurboTax online will e-file your taxes for you. That means the IRS will review and give a decision on your refund much faster than if you mail your return in.
Does Online TurboTax Cost Money for State Filing?
Usually. TurboTax will give you the option to pay for your filing fees out of your refund. However, the rules are different based on the state you’re filing in.
How Do I Load Past TurboTax files into Online?
First, sign in to TurboTax online and click Take me to my return. Select the TaxTools drop-down menu and select tools. A window will pop up. Pick Transfer Last Year’s TurboTax return from your Computer. Then follow the on-screen instructions.
How to Import TurboTax File CD to Online?
You can import a return from TurboTax CD to online by signing into your account. Then, on the left hand side of the screen you’ll see TaxTools. Click that and select tools. Then you’ll see an option to transfer last year’s TurboTax return from your computer. Pick that and complete the on-screen directions to import your information.
Can I File TurboTax Online if I Have Software?
Yes. TurboTax software will allow you to eFile your federal and state tax returns. You don’t need to use TurboTax online to file your taxes online.
How Much Does TurboTax Charge to File Online?
That depends on which product you use. Simple tax returns can be done for free. The Deluxe option costs $39.99, Premier costs $59.99, and self-employed costs $89.99
Filing Taxes Online with Other Products
There are lots of other online tax filing products besides Turbo Tax. We’ll answer your questions about these products here.
Can You File Your Taxes Online with Jackson Hewitt?
Yes. Jackson Hewitt will file your taxes online. That gives you access to a faster return than you’d get if you mailed your return in to the IRS.
How to File Tuition on Taxes on H&R Online?
You can find the area to enter information about tuition on H&R Block under the Adjustments and Deductions section of the service.
Other Questions about Taxes Online
There’s some other questions people have about online tax information that don’t fit into our other categories. We’ll answer those questions here.
How to Verify Tax ID Number Online?
As long as you’re an authorized representative you can call the IRS at 1-800-829-4933. You can’t verify your Tax ID number online at this time.