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Filing taxes can be confusing. Even though you go through it every year, a simple tax return can raise a number of questions. Should you file an itemized return or go for the standard deduction? Can you deduct healthcare expenses? What are the rules about claiming dependent children? The best tax service can help you find answers.
With all the IRS regulations and details involved for filers each year, tax preparation is its own area of expertise. Tax preparation software helps demystify the process. We know you don’t have the time to explore every option yourself, so we’ve done the work to identify the best online tax filing service. In this quick guide, you can explore the pros and cons of some of the best tax services online at a glance.
|Rank||Tax Filing Service||Best For||Cost||Expert Rating|
|4||Jackson Hewitt||Hands-On Help||$29.99||★★★★|
Powered by Intuit, TurboTax is an industry giant that’s regularly recognized as the best professional tax preparation software available. TurboTax offers one of the most comprehensive tax software packages around. Its range of features and its simple but powerful interface contribute to its standing as the best tax service online.
Now that you know the basics, let’s dive into the specifics of TurboTax packages.
Now that you know the basics, let’s dive into the specifics of TurboTax packages.
Free — This tax software plan is perfect for anyone with a very simple return. It offers both federal and state filing at no cost. That said, it doesn’t support all schedules. It does offer support for W-2 importing, Earned Income Tax Credit, Affordable Care Act forms, and credit and deduction checks. You also get access to FAQ forums and audit support in case the IRS disputes your return.
$30 for federal — Plus is an upgrade that can be added to the Free plan for added functionality. If you’d like to use the PLUS plan, simply start filling out a free form and accept the upgrade offer. It includes all the features offered for a free federal return and some convenient upgrades, such as automatic transfers of previously filed returns and from other tax services. You also get more information about tax filing with the ExplainWhy feature, cloud storage to keep your attached documents in one place, and access to your return through October.
$59 for federal returns, on sale for $39 — If you itemize deductions and/or report miscellaneous income, this tax software plan offers a range of services. Schedule A filers must upgrade to this plan. When you do, you’ll get all the features of the lower-priced plans, plus support for logging 1099 forms and access to previous tax returns.
$89, on sale for $69 — With Premier, you can add on support for Schedules B, D, and E. This includes filing for dividend interest income, capital gains/losses, and income from rental properties or pass-through entities.
$119, on sale for $89 — This is the package for anyone who files a Schedule C. Not only does it include all the features of lower tiers, but it also offers a year of free bookkeeping software, perfect for tracking deductions and expenses.
Features of TurboTax include:
Now, let’s check out another big name in tax prep software.
H&R Block is one of the best-known tax preparation companies. Combining both online and brick-and-mortar service locations, H&R Block has become one of the most recognizable brands in tax preparation. The convenience of being able to go online or in-person has helped make this one of the best tax services on the market. Its free filing option is more comprehensive than that of other tax software, allowing you to include more forms, such as for student loans and tuition, the child and dependent care credit, and more.
Another plus for H&R Block is that it has actual offices you can visit in person if you need help. The website has a great collection of FAQs, forums, and tutorials to help filers if they get stuck at any stage during the process. Now, let’s take a look at packages.
Free — H&R Block typically sits near the top of best tax software review lists due to its comprehensive free filing option. This tier includes both 1040EZ filing and Schedule A for itemized deductions. Along with federal, state filing is also free.* While you can get free federal filing with many online tax filing companies, many don’t offer free state filing.
$49.99, on sale for $29.99 — This tier adds on digital storage for returns for six years and itemized deductions, along with unlimited phone and chat support.
$69.99, on sale for $49.99 — With everything from the previous tiers, this level also includes filing for investment income, capital gains/losses, and rental income.
$109.99, on sale for $84.99— This package allows you to file a full Schedule C for self-employment income. With it, you can deduct business expenses, such as vehicle and office spending. You can also claim depreciation on assets for maximum tax benefit.
*When comparing prices, be aware that state filing is only free with the Free Online plan.
Some of the features in H&R Block’s tax software include:
While most tax services offer self-employed filing, it usually comes with a large upcharge. TaxSlayer charges less than most tax services, especially for self-employed individuals. If you have a side hustle or a small business, TaxSlayer is likely the best tax service for the money.
Let’s look at the advantages of TaxSlayer.
Free— TaxSlayer’s basic package allows you to file a 1040 form for simple tax situations. You can also claim educational deductions, making it a great choice for students. The best part? You can file both your federal and state returns at no charge.
$24.95— TaxSlayer Classic is an all-purpose tax preparation software. You can use this package to itemize deductions and claim multiple types of income. If you have investment or rental income, this package is your best choice.
$44.95— This plan provides upgraded priority support. If you have a more complex tax situation, this is a great option. With Premium, you can request assistance from tax professionals as you prepare your return. Premium lets you file all types of income and itemize your deductions, much like Classic.
$54.95—TaxSlayer shines for its budget-friendly self-employed tax filing. With TaxSlayer Self-Employed, it’s easy to file your Schedule C and deduct business expenses. This package allows you to prepare quarterly tax payments throughout the year. You’ll also get access to audit protection and assistance from tax professionals, if needed.
$39.95 (federal free)— With the Military package, you can file your federal return for free. The only cost associated with this package is the $39.95 fee for state filing. This package is otherwise similar to Classic.
Despite being a cost-effective option, TaxSlayer offers a decent range of features that are competitive with more expensive tax preparation services.
Next on the list of tax services is TaxAct. Ease of use makes TaxAct a clear contender for best tax service. To its credit, it combines the depth of services offered by TurboTax with a discount price point. TaxAct professional software reviews regularly compare it favorably to the industry giants.
Here are the basics of TaxAct services.
Not only is TaxAct one of the least expensive options for tax software this year, but it’s also one of the most streamlined. Here’s a look at the packages offered by TaxAct:
Free — This package is for 1040EZ and 1040A filers and includes a free federal return. State filing is extra.
$24.95 — For those who itemize more or own their own home.
$34.95 — For those who have investments or rental properties
$64.95— For those with gig or business income who file a Schedule C.
TaxAct’s features include:
Finally, E-file stands out as the best choice for filing income taxes in multiple states. As a relatively new option, E-file offers a complete range of tax software for the home user. Be aware — it does not support complex business tax filing.
Now, let’s look at pricing.
Free — E-File.com users filing a basic return can complete and submit their federal filing for free.
$29 — This package allows filing for 1040A returns, itemized deductions, and investment income.
$39 — At this tier, users can file self-employment income, small business income, and more complex personal returns.
$28 — None of the filing options include a state return. To add state filing, users must pay an additional fee. The beauty of E-File is that this fee covers unlimited state returns. No matter how many states you file in, you pay one flat price.
E-file.com offers a complete package of features that help you file quickly and easily.
Quick Tip: What to Do If You Owe Too Much
Looking to file an extension because you owe too much? If you have a lot of tax debt, you can look at some of the best debt relief programs. These programs may be able to help you negotiate down your tax burden. Check out our Freedom Debt Relief reviews and Accredited Debt Relief reviews to compare the top two services.
For an easy-to-use program, tax software reviews point to eSmart Tax, the online counterpart for the brick-and-mortar tax giant, Liberty Tax. The intuitive interface and easy access to live support make it a top contender.
$44.95 — This tax software supports form 1040 and Schedule A and B filing. That makes it perfect for families and those with itemized deductions. It also supports investment income and interest income.
$64.95* — Get everything included in Basic plus help with sole proprietorship and home office expenses. This package also allows Schedule C filing for self-employed workers.
$89.95* — Like the name, this is a premium service that covers everything in Basic and Deluxe. In addition, it includes filing for capital gains/losses, sale of a house, rental income, and additional support for filing Schedules E, F, or K-1.
$36.95 — After finishing a federal return, eSmart Tax allows users to add on the state return for $36.95.
*At the time of this writing, eSmart Tax is offering a sale on both the Deluxe and Premium packages. All eSmart Tax packages currently cost just $44.95.
Not only does eSmart Tax include many of the standard features, but it also offers: