Best Tax Software & Online Tax Services 2022

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated January 18, 2022

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Filing taxes with an online tax service
Taxes
January 18, 2022

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

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.

Best Tax Filing Services

RankTax Filing ServiceBest ForCostExpert Rating
1TurboTaxOverall Filing$30★★★★★
2H&R BlockExtras$29.99★★★★★
3TaxActAffordability$29.95★★★★
4Jackson HewittHands-On Help$29.99★★★★
5E-file.comFederal filing$25.99★★★

Best Tax Filing Services

RankTax Filing ServiceExpert Rating
1TurboTax★★★★★
2H&R Block★★★★★
3TaxAct★★★★
4Jackson Hewitt★★★★
5E-file.com★★★

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.

TurboTax Review image
  • Price: TurboTax has four different tiers of service: Free edition (free), Deluxe ($59), Premier ($89), and Self-Employed ($119).
  • Packages: You can file your federal taxes for free with TurboTax if you have a simple tax return. TurboTax offers the Deluxe package for more complicated filings with deductions. The Premier package is best if you have investments or rental properties. Finally, the Self-Employed package is perfect if you own a business or freelance.
  • State filing: State filing is a flat $49 fee for all packages except Free.
  • Audit protection: TurboTax offers support if you are audited by the IRS, up to a point. It will go over audit letters for you, give you advice, and review your taxes, It will also provide you with an explanation of the math and how the taxes were done.
  • Customer service: On all the packages but the Free Federal package, you get SmartLook. This feature connects you with a tax expert in real time via a one-way video to ask any questions you may have.
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Now that you know the basics, let’s dive into the specifics of TurboTax packages.

Free Edition

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.




PLUS

$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.

Deluxe

$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.

Premier

$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.

Self-Employed

$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:

  • Mobile app. Access your filing with the Android or iOS app.
  • Pay filing fees with your refund. Instead of paying upfront for your return, you can choose to pay any filing fees out of your refund for an additional fee.
  • Real-time refund display. As you enter your data, see real-time changes to your refund or payment due.
  • Auto-fill option. Automatically transfer information to state returns.
  • Audit support. Use a free phone consultation to discuss any IRS correspondence with a tax professional.

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.

In Person Help

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.

H&R Block Review image
  • Price: H&R Block has three different tiers of service, Easy Filing (free), Deluxe ($29.99), and Premium ($49.99). H&R Block is currently running a sale on all its products.
  • Packages: You can file your federal taxes for free if you have a simple tax return, although H&R Block’s free return includes filing for over 20 documents that competitors won’t allow you to file for free. H&R Block offers the Deluxe package for more complicated filings with deductions, the Premium package if you have investments or rental properties or if you are self-employed or own a business.
  • State filing: State filing is $36.99.
  • Audit protection: H&R Block’s audit protection works similarly to other large online tax preparation services, except you have to pay $30 for it. The service will go over audit letters with you, give you advice, and review your taxes with you along with an explanation of the math and how the taxes were done.
  • Customer service: H&R Block’s phone support comes with all plans, including the Free Federal plan. The other plus for H&R Block is that it has actual offices where you can go talk to a tax expert if you need help. In addition, the website has a great collection of FAQs, forums and tutorials to help filers if they get stuck at any stage during the process.
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Free Online

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.

Deluxe

$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.

Premium

$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.

Self-employed

$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:

  • Free chat with support: Unlimited access to chat with tech support staff for troubleshooting help and service questions is available Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and weekends 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST.
  • More free filings: H&R Block lets you file your federal tax return for free even if you have additional forms. These can include student loan interest, tuition payments, the child and dependent care credit, the Saver’s Credit, or even unemployment income.
  • Updated refund info in real-time: See refund estimates that change along with information you input. Get detailed explanations about the changes.
  • Save your return: Create an H&R Block account to start your return and come back later to finish filing. If you don’t want to save it, you can still start it without creating an account.
  • Audit support: With any plan, even free file, users get basic support to help with IRS audits. This includes reviewing and interpreting notices and findings, and providing advice on how to respond. You can also purchase enhanced audit protection for $19.99. With the enhanced version, you get in-person representation and audit preparation.
  • Load your refund on a debit card: Using prepaid debit cards, H&R Block allows users to receive their refund in a convenient pay method accepted anywhere Visa is accepted.
  • Health insurance finder: As a GoHealth partner, users can shop government insurance exchanges to find the right plan for the upcoming year.




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.

TaxSlayer Review image
  • Price: TaxSlayer has five different tiers of service, Simply Free (free), Classic, ($24.95) ,Premium ($44.95), Self-Employed ($54.95), Military (Free and unrestricted). TaxSlayer is currently running a sale on all its products.
  • Packages: TaxSlayer offers quality tax preparation services at an attractive price point. The service tailors itself to the needs of everyone from broke college students to small business owners. For those with basic tax returns, the Simply Free package is a great way to simplify taxes at no cost.
  • State filing: State filing is $39.95
  • Audit protection: TaxSlayer’s Audit Assistance works similarly to other large online tax preparation services, and it is included in their premium package. With Audit Assistance, TaxSlayer will work with you to prepare for and resolve inquiries in the case of an audit up to three years after your return is accepted.
  • Customer service: TaxSlayer’s basic customer support is available by phone, email, or online chat. The company provides a range of useful information on its website. A convenient tax calculator can also help you estimate your refund based on your income and basic household information.
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Simply Free

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.

Classic

$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.

Premium

$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.

Self-Employed

$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.

Military

$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.

  • Mobile App Access: TaxSlayer makes it simple to prepare your taxes via desktop or smartphone app. You can also switch back and forth at your convenience.
  • Easy Importing: TaxSlayer lets you import forms automatically. You can also import your prior year 1040 from another service, as long as it’s in PDF format.
  • Pay With Your Refund: Like TurboTax, TaxSlayer lets you deduct your filing fees from your refund.
  • Accuracy Guarantee: TaxSlayer guarantees the accuracy of its tax calculations. If an error is made, you’ll be reimbursed.
  • Audit Protection Upgrade: With the easy audit assistance upgrade, you’re protected in the event of an IRS dispute.

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.

TaxACT Review image
  • Price: TaxACT has five different tiers of service, Free, Basic+ ($9.95), Deluxe+ ($29.95), Premier+ ($39.95) and Self-Employed+ ($74.95).
  • Packages: The Free package is for 1040EZ and 1040A filers and includes a free state return. The Basic+ package is for those with dependents and/or college expenses. The Deluxe+ package is for those who itemize, own their own home or have investment income. And the Premier+ package includes filing for people who have investments and/or rental properties, or those who want prioritized support.
  • State filing: State filing is free in the FREE package, $19.95 for Basic+ and $39.95 for Deluxe+ and Premier+. It is $49.95 for Self-Employed+.
  • Audit protection: TaxAct offers basic audit support in the Support section of its site. It includes all the information you’ll need regardless of what type of audit notice you’ve received from the IRS. TaxAct also offers a $100,000 Accuracy Guarantee that covers every calculation on your tax return.
  • Customer service: TaxAct is one of the only tax preparation services to offer unlimited email support for any tax questions you have. You also have phone support if you need it. The TaxAct site also offers a slew of FAQs and information in its Support section, and also has a blog with useful information.
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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

Free — This package is for 1040EZ and 1040A filers and includes a free federal return. State filing is extra.

Deluxe

$24.95 — For those who itemize more or own their own home.

Premier

$34.95 — For those who have investments or rental properties

Self-employed

$64.95— For those with gig or business income who file a Schedule C.




TaxAct’s features include:

  • Stop and start returns: Users can start filing as soon as the first tax document arrives and finish later.
  • Easy navigation: One of the big inconveniences using other tax software is that you have to start at the beginning again to fix any errors. With TaxAct, users can navigate directly to the section that needs an update.
  • Complete explanations: Where TaxAct really shines is in the information provided about possible life situations. Users not only get a Q&A session, they also get a detailed description of what various tax events mean.
  • $100,000 Accuracy Guarantee: TaxAct now offers a $100,000 Accuracy Guarantee, which covers all the calculations performed when preparing your tax return. It does not cover errors you make inputting your information or anything you withhold from TaxAct.
  • Deduction Maximizer: With TaxAct, you get access to a proprietary tool for finding all possible deductions. This tool can help you claim deductions you didn’t even realize you qualified for.

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.

E-File.com Review

Get Started with E-File.com

E-File.com Review image
  • Price: E-file has three different tiers of service, Free Federal (free), Deluxe Plus ($25.99), and Premium Plus ($45.99).
  • Packages: You can file your federal taxes for free if you have a simple tax return. E-file offers the Deluxe package for more complicated filings with deductions, the Premium package if you have investments or rental properties or if you are self-employed or own a business.
  • State filing: State filing is a flat-fee of $21, no matter how many states you file in.
  • Audit protection: E-file actually does offer free audit support in the case that you are audited. This is limited to advice about your audit situation, but doesn’t go much beyond that.
  • Customer service: E-File does offer phone assistance if you are having issues with your taxes or the online program, as well as email and chat support, which some companies charge for.
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Now, let’s look at pricing.

Free Federal Edition

Free — E-File.com users filing a basic return can complete and submit their federal filing for free.

Deluxe

$29 — This package allows filing for 1040A returns, itemized deductions, and investment income.

Premier

$39 — At this tier, users can file self-employment income, small business income, and more complex personal returns.

State Filing Fee

$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.

  • Fast filing: It could take as little as 15 minutes from start to finish to file your taxes.
  • Customer support from qualified professionals: Customer support is not just about using the tax software. Experts can answer questions specifically about tax filing. Support is free, but it may take a while for the answer to arrive. This is because E-File has no dedicated customer support phone line.
  • Instantly file an extension request: For anyone not ready to file by the deadline, E-File allows users to file an extension request online.

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.

Basic

$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.

Deluxe

$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.

Premium

$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.

State Return

$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:

  • Brick-and-mortar support: When users encounter issues using the online filing tax software, they can visit a Liberty Tax store location for complimentary personalized help.
  • Import prior tax returns: With eSmart Tax, you can easily import your prior year tax returns.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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