Taxes are confusing and exhausting. But finding the best tax software shouldn’t be. We’ve put together a list of our top tax software picks for all types of tax filers.
Read on to discover what makes a great tax software along with our picks for the best software.
What makes a great tax software
Not all tax software is created equal. Here are the elements of great tax software:
Ease of use: Tax software should be easy to navigate and make the filing process simple and hassle-free (even for inexperienced users).
Affordability: Cost is a factor in choosing a tax software. The best software will have pricing that corresponds to the level of complexity.
Maximizing credits and deductions: The best tax software makes it easy for you to identify credits and deductions while taking advantage of those that apply to you.
Explanations: Understanding why you get certain deductions or credits, why your return increases or decreases, and other specifics about your taxes can be helpful.
Customer support: When you have a question or issue with the software itself, you should be able to get support as soon as possible.
Access to tax pros online: Getting access to a tax professional can be helpful when you have a complex tax issue or question or if you want them to review your return before filing.
Best Tax Software for 2021
After reviewing #AllTheSoftware, we’ve decided on the following for our top picks for best tax software for 2021.
1. TurboTax [Best Overall]
Powered by Intuit, TurboTax offers a variety of helpful features for those who need the extra hand-holding when it comes to filing their taxes. The simple and intuitive user interface makes it easy for anyone to navigate and complete the forms necessary to file.
In a lot of ways, filing your taxes on TurboTax feels like you’re working with a tax professional who is asking you questions and guiding you through every step of the filing process. If you know what you’re doing, you can skip around to different tax categories as you please.
One of the reasons TurboTax won for best overall is because it offers something for everyone. From simple returns to complex business or investment taxes, they offer a package for every type of filer.
Automatically upload your W-2s so you don’t have to enter them all manually. You can also import data from QuickBooks, Square, Uber, and Lyft. And if you don’t have all the information you need to finish, you can easily save your spot and return later.
Need help with your return? Get live support from tax experts whom you can connect with right from your web browser.
Pricing: $60 to $120, plus any state costs. Free edition available.
2. H&R Block [Best for Simple Returns]
Got a simple return? H&R Block is your go-to. Like TurboTax, H&R Block walks you through a series of questions to help guide you through the process of filing your taxes. It also has built-in calculators and a library of articles for every type of tax situation.
One unique thing about H&R Block is that you have multiple options for filing your taxes. You can file online, in person, through the app, or by downloading the software. And if you don’t want to file your own taxes, there’s a virtual option where you can upload your documents and let a tax professional take care of the rest!
When filing your simple return, you can import information from your W-2 by taking a picture on your phone! (You can either upload it or manually enter the information.)
H&R Block has earned our top spot for simple returns because it has one of the best free options on the market. Not only is filing your federal return free, but the state tax prep fee is $0 for simple returns.
While the interface is not as intuitive as TurboTax, H&R Block also offers unlimited technical support with phone and chat support for the paid packages.
Pricing: $0 to $109, plus $44.99 per state filed
3. FreeTaxUSA [Best Free Tax Software]
As its name implies, FreeTaxUSA is one of the best free and budget options out there. You can prepare and file your federal taxes completely free of charge. (But you do have to pay a low price for filing your state taxes.)
While the interface for FreeTaxUSA isn’t as intuitive or user-friendly as some of the bigger tax software, it does have a clean, modern interface. This software will work just fine for both beginners and more experienced filers.
FreeTax USA is definitely a stripped down software. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that TurboTax and H&R Block do. However, what it lacks in advanced features, it makes up for in price. And that price is free.
Not to mention, the Deluxe edition is very affordable at $6.99. The Deluxe edition offers priority customer support and live chat as well as unlimited amendments and audit assistance if necessary.
FreeTaxUSA is not just free for simple federal returns. It’s also free for self-employed or 1099 filers to file their federal returns. That’s great news for freelancers, sole proprietors, and contractors who are self-filing on a budget!
Pricing: $0 for Basic and $6.99 for Deluxe
4. TaxSlayer [Best for Self-Employed]
TaxSlayer is one of our favorite tax softwares for self-employed or freelance professionals. And one of the things we love most about it is that its pricing model is based on the level of support you get from a tax professional, not the features of the package.
Being self-employed can sometimes be expensive. TaxSlayer offers one of the most affordable packages for contractors and freelancers at $54.95 for federal and $39.95 for state filings.
The self-employed software package comes with access to tax professionals who specialize in taxes for contractors and freelancers. This package also offers more guidance and reminders for things specific to 1099 filers, like estimated tax payments.
TaxSlayer’s interface is pretty easy to use. While you don’t get the same type of on-screen explanations that you do with TurboTax, you do have access to phone and email tech support at no additional cost.
With a 100% accuracy guarantee, TaxSlayer will reimburse any federal or state penalties and interest rates incurred by the filer. They will also have a guaranteed maximum refund, which means they will refund any applicable TaxSlayer purchase if you don’t receive the maximum tax refund you’re entitled to.
Pricing: $0 to $54.95, plus $39.95 per state
5. Credit Karma Tax [Best for Maximizing Credits and Deductions]
Credit Karma Tax is another excellent free option for best tax software. It is free for both federal and state returns if you’re filling a simple return.
Credit Karma Tax offers more than many of the other free options do when it comes to complex tax filing situations. You can include itemized deductions, business income or expenses, capital gains and losses, or self-employment taxes—for free! This makes it an excellent option for self-employed individuals who want to file for free.
With Smart File, Credit Karma Tax streamlines the filing process by only showing you the sections you need to file for your tax situation. That means less time (and headache) when it comes to filing your taxes.
They make it easy for W-2 filers to get their taxes done by snapping a quick photo of their documents. And you can also import last year’s taxes from H&R Block, TurboTax, or TaxAct.
Credit Karma tax has both an Accurate Calculations Guarantee and a Max Refund Guarantee. This means they will reimburse the user up to $1,000 if the IRS or state tax authority penalizes them due to calculation errors made by Credit Karma Tax.
They also guarantee a maximum refund, which means if a user files an amended return and is able to get a larger refund (or owe less) in federal taxes, Credit Karma Tax will pay the user the difference up to $100.
6. Jackson Hewitt [Best for Support]
Jackson Hewitt gives you a variety of ways to file your taxes easily. You can file them yourself online, online with a tax professional, or in an office with a tax professional. In addition to getting phone, live chat, and in-person support, you also get access to a comprehensive library of helpful articles and calculators.
Offering one of the best refund insurance options, Jackson Hewitt also has a Worry-Free Guarantee Plan that promises a reimbursement if users don’t receive the maximum refund or are hit with additional tax liabilities.
They also have the option to add Audit Security, which gives you a dedicated tax expert to manage your case should you be audited by the IRS.
Jackson Hewitt also makes it easy to file an amended federal or state return. You can do this on your own or with a local tax professional. Their tax professionals are also available to help resolve any IRS issues or tax debt resolution.
Pricing: $25 for federal and $24 for unlimited state returns
7. TaxAct [Best for Accuracy Guarantee]
With TaxAct, you can file your federal and state taxes from any device at an affordable cost. You also have on-demand access to a tax professional onscreen for an additional (but affordable) rate.
When it comes to ease of use, TaxAct looks and feels much like its competitors. It guides you through different questions to collect the information it needs to help you file. You can get started by importing last year’s taxes from the previous software.
The software tracks your progress along the way, letting you know how much you have left to do. But you can also skip around to whatever section you want to work on. TaxAct will also give you tips and explanations along the way to get the most out of the software (and your return).
We chose TaxAct as the best tax software for its accuracy guarantee. With the $100k Accuracy Guarantee, they guarantee that their software is 100% accurate and gets you the highest refund possible. If that’s not the case, they will refund any software costs while also paying the difference between the lower refund (or higher tax liability). And they will also cover any legal or audit costs up to $100,000—an offer that just isn’t available on any other software.
Pricing: $0 to $94.95 for federal plus $39.95 to $54.95 for state
Choosing the best tax software for you
With so many different awesome options, you’re bound to find the best tax software for you on this list. If you’re looking for something that allows you to handle more complex tax situations, TurboTax, H&R Block, and Jackson Hewitt are all good options. Whereas if you have simple taxes and want a free or affordable option, go for FreeTax USA, Credit Karma Tax, or TaxAct.
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