The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers the ability to use a free version of the popular tax preparation software for taxpayers who make less than $64,000 in income and have simple tax filing needs. To access this software for free, a user must go to Free File program on the IRS.gov website to sign up. The software available through this program includes the free versions of the software we review in this article.
For those with more complex tax-filing requirements, the cost of federal e-filing ranges from $19.99 to $109.99.
State e-filing costs an additional $14.99 to $39.99 depending on the tax software used. If you are lucky enough to be a resident of any of these states: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming; there is no state income tax and therefore no state income tax form needs to be filed.
Online Tax Preparation Software
There are five popular systems that we review in this article, which include H&R Block®, Jackson Hewitt®, TaxAct®, TaxSlayer®, and TurboTax®.
OUR TOP PICK
- Unlimited amended returns
- Priority support with live chat
- Audit assist services
- $6.99 for deluxe edition = excellent value
FreeTaxUSA is an online tax preparation service that’s been getting a lot of attention lately. The company offers several different ways to file your taxes, as well as lots of different tax products to ensure that you don’t pay too much for tax prep services. FreeTaxUSA can handle any kind of tax return, no matter how simple or complicated.
The pricing at FreeTaxUSA is very straight-forward. They offer a free federal return which will work for most people. Filing your state return with FreeTaxUSA will cost you $14.99. you can also gain access to the deluxe edition of FreeTaxUSA for a fee of $6.99. As a result, FreeTaxUSA is one of the most cost-effective tax preparation and filing services we’ve looked at so far.
Another interesting point about FreeTaxUSA’s pricing is that they’re very easy to understand. The company doesn’t charge more for self-employed taxes, military taxes, or extension filing. That means you’ll know how much your tax preparation costs will be before you even get to the end of the return. That’s much easier than other services that charge based on the type of return you’re filing or use opaque pricing schemes to inflate the cost and make more money off of you.
As with most services, FreeTaxUSA lets you get your refund through direct deposit or in the form of a check from the IRS. The direct deposit option will get you your refund faster. However, the option to get a check means you don’t need to have a checking account to receive your return.
Tax Payment Options
FreeTaxUSA lets you fill out your returns before you pay. You’ll pay for your filing when you choose to file. The cost will depend on what services you purchased from FreeTaxUSA. We couldn’t find any information that said if FreeTaxUSA lets you pay out of your return. However, this feature isn’t really necessary for FreeTaxUSA because the price the company charges is so low to begin with.
One of the best special features that FreeTaxUSA offers is that you get unlimited amended returns at no extra cost. That means you’ll always know the cost of your tax preparations services, no matter what situation pops up.
Another great aspect of FreeTaxUSA is that you can upload your tax documents as PDFs to the service. FreeTaxUSA will automatically capture the information from your tax documents and put it on your return. This saves time and ensures accuracy.
Finally, FreeTaxUSA offers all different types of tax preparation services for the same flat fee. That means they’re much easier to understand than many other services when it comes to the pricing and the cost you’ll pay.
FreeTaxUSA will get you the biggest legal return based on the income you provide them. They use a series of helpful pop-ups and prompts to help make sure you enter in all the information you have to complete your return and get the maximum refund possible.
Why H&R Block?
- One of the biggest names in tax prep business
- Offers more free filings than many other companies
- Unlimited online chat and telephone help for paying customers
- Maximum legal refund guarantee
H&R Block® is one of the most recognized names in tax preparation. The company started in 1955 and has over 12,000 global offices to help individuals and businesses file tax returns.
For those with simple tax returns and first-time filers, H&R Block® offers free federal tax filings plus $29.99 for each state tax return filed. Regular filers with mortgage deductions pay $49.99 for the federal e-filing and $39.99 for each state filing. For taxpayers that have investment income or income from rental property, the price goes up to $69.99 for the federal e-filing and $39.99 for each state filing. Small business and self-employed persons pay $94.99 for the federal e-filing and $39.99 for each state filing.
For those who are due to get a refund, they can choose to have the refund directly deposited into a bank account, loaded onto a prepaid MasterCard® debit card, or have a paper check mailed to them by the IRS and the state(s). They also have the option to have the H&R Block® fees deducted from the refund so there is no need to pay for the tax filing services up front.
Tax Payment Options
For those who owe taxes to the IRS or to a state, they can be paid using a credit or a debit card, a withdrawal from a bank account. The IRS also offers pay-by-phone services and checks can be mailed in as well.
Unlimited online chat and telephone help is available for those who pay H&R Block® tax preparation fees. Cloud storage of filed tax returns from previous years allows past data to be used for a current year. Tax refund status can be tracked online.
H&R Block® online tax preparation solutions are mobile-friendly. For those who prefer to work offline, there are downloadable versions of the tax preparation software available starting at $29.95 for the basic program going up to $89.95 for the premium business version. In-person help at one of the H&R Block® offices is also available for an additional charge.
H&R Block® guarantees to get the maximum refund permitted by law when its system is compared to any other tax preparation system using the same information supplied by the taxpayer. Tax filings are guaranteed to be 100% mathematically accurate. If a taxpayer is audited, H&R Block® offers help by telephone to understand and respond to an IRS notice but does not give legal advice. In-person support for an IRS audit is an additional cost.
We also reviewed H&R Block online in-depth so make sure to check it out.
Jackson Hewitt® offers in-person help at its offices along with online filing. Besides providing online tax-filing services, this company has over 6,000 retail locations. About half of them are found in Walmarts.
There is a free online version available for those with simple tax filing needs and those who have under $1,500 of interest or unemployment income. Regular tax filings are $49.95 for the federal return and $36.95 for each state return.
Refunds can be directly deposited into a bank account, funds can be loaded onto an American Express Serve debit card, or a paper check can be requested to be sent in the mail from the IRS and state(s). A zero-fee, 0% APR refund advance is available for up to $3,200 when a taxpayer pays for Jackson Hewitt® tax preparation services.
Tax Payment Options
Taxes can be paid by credit or debit cards, and bank withdrawals. The IRS offers pay-by-phone services and a check can be mailed in as well.
Data from a past year’s return is saved in order to be imported into the current year. A deduction discovery feature helps tax-filers learn about deductions that they qualify for, which they might otherwise not know about. Online filers are welcome to go to an office for additional in-person help. The offices are open late and on weekends.
Jackson Hewitt® offers a 100% Maximum Refund Guarantee along with an accuracy check feature.
TaxAct® offers online tax preparation that is enabled for mobile access and downloadable software for those who prefer to work offline. The system has individual and business tax-filings as well as help for those that are self-employed. There is also tax-filing help for estates, trusts, and tax-exempt organizations.
There is a free version for both federal and state taxes for those who have a very simple tax filing and for first-time tax filers. Regular filers, with earned income, pay $9.95 for the federal filing and $19.95 more for each state. Homeowners need to use the Deluxe version and pay $29.95 for the federal filing and $36.95 for the state tax return.
Anyone with interest, dividend, and investment income needs to use the Premier version and pay $34.95 for the federal filing and $36.95 for the state tax return. Self-employed individuals pay $49.95 for the federal filing and $36.95 for the state tax return.
Businesses pay $59.95 for a sole proprietor, partnership (also used for LLCs), and for a C or S corporation federal tax return and $36.95 for each state tax return. Estates, trusts, and tax-exempt organizations pay $59.95 for the federal filing.
Downloadable software cost $19.95 for the Basic version, $76.90 for the Deluxe version, $81.90 for the Premier version and $96.90 for the Self-Employed version.
Refunds can be directly deposited into a bank account, funds can be loaded onto an American Express Serve debit card, or a paper check can be requested to be sent in the mail from the IRS and the state(s). Refund advances from Republic Bank up to $6,000 are available starting from January 2 for those who qualify.
Tax Payment Options
Taxes can be paid by credit or debit cards, and bank withdrawals. The IRS offers pay-by-phone and a check can be mailed in.
Online tracking of the IRS refund is available. Tax preparation fees can be deducted from any refund. Business and home bundles that provide both federal and state filings for both individuals and a business are $200, which offers significant savings when compared to buying these products separately.
Tax return accuracy is 100% guaranteed and backed by a $100,000 guarantee for any filing errors made by the software.
TaxSlayer® is an online solution that offers highly-competitive pricing with email and telephone support.
For a simple federal filing of the 1040EZ form along with a state form, the cost is free. Regular tax-filers need to choose the Classic version and pay $24 for the federal filing plus $29 for each state filing. Those who pay for the Premium version at $44 for the federal filing plus $29 for each state filing get real-time online chat support. Self-employed persons need to pay $47 for the federal filing plus $29 for each state filing.
Active-duty military members receive a free Classic version of the tax-filing system to use for their federal tax return.
Federal refunds may be made by direct deposit to a bank account or by having the IRS mail a printed check. Federal refunds that are more than $50 can be partially used to buy up to three U.S. Savings Bonds, which are in denominations of $50 each. State refunds can be made by direct deposit to a bank account, be loaded on a debit card that is mailed or by a printed check that is mailed.
Tax Payment Options
Payment for taxes is by debit or credit card and bank account transfers. Payment can also be made to the IRS by telephone or by mailing in a check.
The Premium and Self-employed version includes free online chat, telephone, and email assistance for IRS audits. These versions also get priority support, which includes the ability to ask questions that are answered by a tax professional. Ongoing users get to use the fast-fill feature to import data from the previous year’s return and can see the prior year for comparison to the current one.
This system offers a free tax refund estimator, which shows how the tax reform bill will affect a 2018 tax year return (to be filed by April 15, 2019) as well as the previous year of 2017. This can help determine if there is a benefit from filing an amended return for that year.
The maximum refund permissible by law is guaranteed based on the information submitted by the tax-filer. Accuracy is guaranteed for the calculations, which includes reimbursement for any federal or state penalties and interest for mathematical errors.
TurboTax® is very popular because it is very easy to use. It is made by Intuit® that is also the maker of Quicken® accounting software. The interface is intuitive and progresses through a series of easy-to-understand questions in order to gather the information needed to fill out the tax forms. It is more expensive than the other online solutions.
The Free version is for simple federal tax forms and costs $29.99 for each state. The Deluxe version is for those with mortgage deductions and costs $59.99 for the federal filing and $39.99 for each state. The Premier version is for those with investment income and costs $79.99 for the federal filing and $39.99 for each state.
Military members can use the Deluxe version for free federal and state filings and get a $5 discount on other versions.
The Self-Employed version is for those with business income and expenses. It costs $119.99 for the federal filing and $39.99 for each state. This version is designed to integrate with Quicken® accounting software.
Downloadable versions are available. The Basic federal version is $39.99 plus $39.99 for each state. The Deluxe version that includes one state is $69.99. The Premier version for those with investment and rental property income is $99.99 and includes one state. The home and business version, which is suitable for self-employed persons, is $109.99 and includes one state.
The fees to use this system can be deducted from any refund for an additional fee. Refund progress can be tracked online. Refunds are made by direct deposit to a bank account, loaded on a prepaid Visa® card, or by a check mailed from the IRS and applicable state(s). Advances of refunds are available through First Century Bank.
Tax Payment Options
Payment for taxes is by debit or credit card and bank account transfers. Payment can also be made to the IRS by telephone or by mailing in a check.
Real CPAs who are tax specialists are available for live help when paying an additional $179.99. A free online tax calculator is available. Many tax questions are discussed in the TurboTax® moderated online forum.
Information is stored securely in the cloud using data encryption. Everything is accessible by authorized users using any mobile device. A smartphone fingerprint reader can be used to have a fingerprint be the account password.
The maximum refund amount is guaranteed and determined from over 350 tax deductions. Every detail is reviewed and 100% accurate calculations are guaranteed. If a mathematical mistake is made any IRS penalties are paid by the company. Free one-on-one audit support is included. A person is able to get advice if they get an IRS audit letter. This is part of the TurboTax® guarantee.
The TaxTeam is composed of a group of tax specialists that have established a track record for ensuring their clients get the biggest refunds possible. The company offers several appealing services. In addition to tax preparation, TaxTeam also assists with tax relief issues. That makes them a great place to go for a one-stop option for anything you need to do involving the IRS.
TaxTeam doesn’t have any listed costs on their website. The fee you’re charged depends on what forms are needed to file your taxes. This may put some people off. However, the reason the pricing is set up this way is that you’ll get help and assistance from a real human being. As a result, you’ll benefit from that person’s expertise to help you get the best possible refund in your situation. Many tax payers find that this system works out better for people with complex tax situations.
You get two refund options if you use TaxTeam to file your taxes. The first option is direct deposit. That means the IRS puts your refund directly into the bank account you list as soon as your refund is processed. Many people prefer this option because it means they get their refund faster.
The other option is to receive a check from the IRS. This option is a bit slower. However, it’s a good idea for people without a traditional bank account, those who might be closing or changing bank accounts in the next several weeks, and people that prefer to see the physical check from the government. In the meantime, if you are needing a bank account, take a look at bank offers to open a new account.
Tax Payment Options
Much like the refund options, TaxTeam offers two payment options for tax preparation services. The first option allows you to deduct the cost of preparation from your refund. That means you don’t pay any money out of pocket to file your taxes.
The second option is to pay for your tax preparation fees upfront. That allows you to enjoy the entirety of your refund when it goes through. Both options are good, so it comes down to a matter of preference for the individual tax payer.
The best feature of TaxTeam is how they make filing your taxes easy. You just fill out some forms for the company and they’ll take care of the rest. Additionally, unlike many of the other tax prep services we’ve looked at, TaxTeam has physical offices. That means you can stop in and talk with someone face-to-face to get your taxes done.
TaxTeam doesn’t advertise any guarantees. However, they have a track record of happy customers and praise in multiple reviews. That means you can trust them to get the job done. Moreover, since you’ll be talking to an actual person, you can talk to them every step of the way to ensure your taxes are done right.
How does a person decide which system is the best? It depends on the circumstances and their preferences.
TaxAct® is the cheapest. Jackson Hewitt® and H&R Block® also have the option to get in-person help. Active-duty military members will benefit from using the free Classic version on TaxSlayer® or the free Deluxe version on TurboTax®. TurboTax® is the most popular, considered the easiest to use; however, it is also the most expensive.
All of these systems let you start to file taxes online for free and it is possible to use the system almost all the way to completion before actually having to pay for it. By using this method, especially for those new to these online systems, it is possible to try each system before buying it.
General Tax Software
This section answers the general questions you have about tax software. You should use this section to form a good base of knowledge before you move on to more advanced questions.
Should I Use Online Tax Software?
Yes. Online tax software has the latest updates and most recent changes to the tax code. That means you’ll have the best shot of getting your taxes right and you’ll be able to file online for a faster return.
Should I Use Free Tax Software?
That depends on how complex your taxes are. If you plan on filing a 1040EZ form, then free tax software will meet your needs. If you need to do itemized deductions or anything more complex than a 1040EZ, then you’ll probably want to pay for tax software.
How to Get Free Tax Software?
The best way to get free tax software is by filing a 1040EZ return. This type of return is very simple, and H&R Block and TurboTax both offer free software to help you complete your return.
How Does Tax Software Work?
Tax software works by asking you questions about different aspects of your income and expenses. It uses the answers and the current tax code to accurately fill out your taxes while maximizing your return.
Is Tax Software Worth it?
In most cases, yes. Tax software makes it easy to do your taxes, saving you time and energy. It also helps you file your taxes quickly online to speed up getting your return. Finally, tax software helps make sure your taxes are accurate and most products even include audit protection.
Should I Use Tax Software or Accountant?
That depends on how complex your taxes are and how much energy you want to put in to them. For most people, tax software is the right choice. But if you have a complex financial life or just don’t want to deal with it, then an accountant might be the bets option.
Why Does Different Tax Software Give Different Results?
Different tax software can give different results because each product asks different questions. Moreover, the way the questions are worded can change how you answer them, which can also produce different results.
Why Buy Tax Software?
You should buy tax software to make it easier to do your taxes. Tax software will help you find deductions to lower your tax bill and boost your return. You also get important features like audit protection and the ability to simplify the process of filling out your taxes.
Should I Buy New Tax Preparation Software?
Probably. The tax code changes every year. Buying new tax software or using an online tax software product will help ensure that your taxes are being prepared according to the most updated version of the tax code.
Choosing Tax Software
It can be hard to choose the right tax software for you. This section answers the questions you have about how to choose between different tax software options.
What Is the Best Tax Filing Software?
The best tax filing software depends on your particular situation. If you’re young or have simple taxes, then H&R Block Deluxe is good. The best software for deductions for donations is TaxAct. If you’re using your phone to do your taxes, then TurboTax Deluxe is a great choice. It’s also the best option if you have a complex return.
Which Tax Software Is Best for Me?
That depends on how complex your taxes are. We recommend Turbo Tax Deluxe if you’re filing a complex return. However, simple returns are best done by H&R Block Tax Software.
What Is the Best Do it Yourself Tax Software?
The best DIY tax software for you depends on how complicated your tax situation is. TurboTax Deluxe and H&R Block Premium are good options for complex taxes. More basic returns work best with H&R Block Deluxe
Which Tax Software Is Best for Rental Property?
TurboTax Premier and H&R Block Premium are the best options for tax software for people that have rental property. These programs are able to handle the complex tax situations that are created by rental property income.
Which Tax Software Is Cheapest?
H&R Block and TurboTax both offer a free version of their software for 1040EZ filings. However, if you have a more complex return, then H&R Block is the cheapest option, starting at $19.97. Freetaxusa 2020 may be a bargain too.
What Is a Good Tax Software?
TurboTax by Intuit is a very good tax software. It will ask easy questions to help you maximize your returns. H&R Block is also an excellent option if you have simpler taxes.
Which Tax Software Gives Maximum Return?
Your best options are to try TurboTax, H&R Block, and TaxAct. All of them will waive your prep fees if you can prove another program will produce a bigger refund for an identical tax situation. This is called a maximum refund/minimum tax liability guarantee.
What Is the Best Tax Software for Small Business?
H&R Block Premium & Business is the best tax software for small business owners. It lets you track itemized expenses to ensure that you get the biggest possible return.
What Is the Best at Home Tax Software?
The best at home tax software can be tricky to pin down. The best way to decide is to look at how complicated your taxes are. People like investors and homeowners will get the best results from TurboTax Deluxe. If you rent and have fairly simple taxes, then H&R Block basic is the best way to go.
Which Tax Software Is Best for Tax Preparers?
Lacerte is the leading software for tax preparers. It offers a pay-per-return pricing scheme that will let you have a predictable profit margin and is powerful enough to handle almost any tax situation.
What Is the Best Tax Preparation Software?
The best tax preparation software depends on the level of complexity of your taxes. TurboTax Deluxe and H&R Block Premium are the best options for people with more complicated taxes, like the self-employed and home-owners. TaxAct and H&R Block Basic are good if your taxes are more straightforward.
What Factors Should be Considered When Selecting Tax Preparation Software?
When selecting a tax preparation software your main factor for consideration should be how complex your taxes are. If you’re filing a 1040EZ, then you can use the most basic tax software packages. The various tax software companies will describe which products are best for different situations.
Which Tax Software Gives the Biggest Refund?
In theory all tax return software should provide the same refund. However, TurboTax, H&R Block, and TaxAct all have a minimum liability/maximum refund guarantee that waives your filing fees if you can prove another piece of software would do better, so we recommend one of those options.
H&R Block Tax Software
H&R Block produces one of the most popular tax software options. This section covers your questions about H&R Block tax software.
Which H&R Block Tax Software Do I Need?
That depends on how complex your taxes are. Simple returns can use the basic software. If you own a home or have investments, then you’ll want deluxe. People who are self-employed or have rental properties will want premium, and those who own a small business will want premium and business.
Is H&R Block Tax Software Really Free?
The free version of H&R block’s tax software will only let you file a 1040EZ. If you want to claim deductions or have a more complex tax situation, then you’ll need to use a paid version of the software.
Where Can I Buy H&R Block Tax Software?
There are lots of places you can buy H&R Block tax software. You can get it from their website, Walmart, Office Depot, Best Buy, Office Max, Target, Staples, and similar stores.
Turbo Tax Software
Turbo Tax is the most popular tax software around. We’ll answer your most common questions about Turbo Tax in this section.
How Much Is Turbo Tax Software?
There are several different versions of TurboTax software. They have a free edition for 1040EZ forms, a Deluxe edition that costs $39.99, Premier, which costs $59.99, and Self-Employed, which costs $89.99
How to Install Turbo Tax Software?
If you’ve downloaded the software, you need to launch the installer that downloaded. If you purchased the software on a CD, then you’ll put the CD in your computer and double click on the install wizard to start the installation process.
Is Quicken Software Tax Deductible?
Most likely. Tax and accounting software are usually considered to be business expenses. However, that may be different if you’re not filing as a business. Your tax prep software will be able to help you answer this question.
How to File Tax Extension with TurboTax Software?
Log in to TurboTax and click “take me to my return.” There will be an option to file an extension at the bottom of the column on the left side of the screen. Select this and follow the on-screen instructions.
Can I Share My Turbo Tax Software?
TurboTax’s terms and conditions say that you’re allowed to install it on as many computers as you own. However, you’re not allowed to share it to be used on a computer you don’t own.
Is Turbo Tax Software Deductible?
For most people, yes. You can usually deduct the cost of tax preparation on your taxes. You can use TurboTax to find out if that’s true for your specific situation. Related: See where your tax dollars get spent.
How to Link Turbo Tax Online to Turbo Tax Software?
First, save your online return as a tax data file. Then, go to the software and choose file à open tax return. Go to where you saved your “.tax2018“ file, select it and then click open.
Other Tax Software Products
There are lots of different tax software options. We’ll cover questions about some of the other tax preparation software products on the market in this section.
How Much Is Crosslink Tax Software?
Crosslink tax software has variable costs depending on how many computers you want to install it on, whether you want data migration, and your need for specialized reports. You’ll need to contact them to get a price for your specific needs.
Where to Buy uFile Tax Software?
You can buy uFile from their website. You can also get it at Staples, Best Buy, Walmart, and Jean Coutu stores across Canada.
How to File Income Tax Return in Genius Software?
To file a return with Genius software, log into your account and go to the Upload Return section of your user dashboard. From there you can follow to steps to file your return.
How to Amend Tax Return Drake Software?
First, complete any of the necessary fields on the lower half of the X screen. Change to view mode and review the form. Then identify where amending changes should be made. Correct the original return and then return to View/Print Mode to confirm the results.
How Much Does Lacerte Tax Software Cost?
Lacerte costs $395 per individual return and one state return at $55. You can also get an unlimited package for $5,000 which allows unlimited process for federal one state and electric filing.
Other Tax Software Questions
This section will answer other questions about tax software that don’t fit in to our other categories. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, then this section is a good place to check.
Is Accounting Software Tax Deductible?
Yes, accounting software is considered to be a business expense. Moreover, tax preparation is also tax deductible. That means you should be able to write off your tax software.
What Tax Software Does PwC Use?
PwC uses a piece of software called Reuters GoSystem to prepare tax returns. This software is designed for large, enterprise level clients and is highly customized and integrated with other parts of business operations.
How to File Income Tax Return Online Without Software?
You can eFile for free with the IRS if your adjusted gross income is $66,000 or less. You can do this directly from the IRS website using free file fillable forms.
What Software Do CPAs Use for Taxes?
Most of the larger CPA companies use a GoSystem by Thomson Reuters for their taxes. It’s an extremely complex and technical piece of software that’s not suited for individual users.
How to eFile Taxes Without Software?
You can eFile taxes without software for free as long as you make less than $66,000 as your adjusted gross income. The IRS website has the forms you’ll need to complete, and you can file directly from the IRS site.
What Tax Software Does KPMG Use?
KPMG uses GoSystem, software made by Thomson Reuters. This software is incredibly detailed and complex. It isn’t intended for individual users or individual returns.
Can I Deduct Tax Software as Business Expense?
Yes, tax software is generally treated as a business expense. Your tax software will be able to provide a better answer to this question.
What Software Does Liberty Tax Use?
Liberty Tax uses a proprietary version of their own tax software. They don’t have information about their software online and you can’t obtain the software their locations use.
What Tax Software Does Deloitte Use?
Deloitte uses a version of Thompson Reuters GoSystem for their taxes. It’s a highly customized and proprietary version of that tax software used for enterprise businesses.
Why Can't I Mail My Taxes Using a Preparation Software?
You should be able to mail your taxes using preparation software. The software will have an option to save your taxes as a PDF. Save the PDF and print it out. You can mail this in for your tax return.