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Best tax software for 2021

We researched over 20 tax software programs to help you quickly compare the top five.

Updated

Fact checked

Best for complex returns: TaxAct

TaxAct logo

$0

Starting price

  • Long-term access
  • Accuracy guarantee
  • Import previous returns
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The best tax software helps you file your taxes online with little hassle or frustration. We analyzed over 20 tax software programs — comparing the price, ease of use, filing options, support and features of each — to bring you the top five.

The 5 best tax software programs

The best tax software depends on your specific tax situation. Here are five top tax software programs if you’re self-employed, have a complex return, need more support or are on a limited budget.

Quick look at the best tax software programs

TaxAct

Best tax software for complex returns

  • Federal return: $0 to $109.95
  • State return: $4.95 to $49.95
  • TaxAct offers five different personal tax preparation plans built to handle even the most complex of returns. Some plans even come with screen sharing capabilities so you can get on-demand support from a tax professional should you need it.

H&R Block

Best tax software for on-demand support

  • Federal return: $0 to $144.99
  • State return: $0 to $36.99
  • H&R Block has nine different software plans and packages — half of which come with on-demand support from tax experts, enrolled agents and CPAs. This makes it a great option for those who think they’ll need help during the filing process.

TurboTax

Best tax software for small business owners

  • Federal return: $90 to $170
  • State return: $40 to $50
  • TurboTax is the best tax software for self-employed individuals. Its business plans have all the bells and whistles — auditing support, payroll features, reports and even accounting software integrations. There are even tax experts on standby.

FreeTaxUSA

Best tax software for limited budgets

  • Federal return: $0
  • State return: $12.95

    With FreeTaxUSA, you can file federal returns for free and state returns for $12.95, making it a great option for free filers and those on a limited budget. But it doesn’t support all tax forms.

TaxSlayer

Best tax software for tax preparers

  • Cost: $1,195 to $1,495
  • TaxSlayer Pro is a tax preparation software designed specifically for tax preparers. It comes with unlimited support and integrated bank products to help your clients get paid sooner.

How do I choose the best tax software?

Here are some major factors to consider when narrowing down the best tax software for your situation:

  • Cost. Some tax software programs are sneaky and will let you start out on the free version, then bump you up to a paid tier as you go. Read the details for each tier so you know how much you’ll pay for your situation.
  • Ease of use. Choose a tax program that’s easy to understand, so you can make sure you’re filling out everything correctly. If an interface looks clunky or confusing, it may only add to your frustration.
  • Customer support. Some tax software programs come with on-demand chat or phone support while others are limited to email support only.

Tax software alternatives

You have two main alternatives if you don’t want to use a tax software:

  • Tax professional. Hiring a CPA may be a good option if you’re a high net worth individual or business owner with a complicated and confusing tax situation.
  • DIY. Doing your taxes yourself is the most laborious option — and it also has the most room for error. Unless you’re a tax preparer, you may not have the expertise to go this route.

Compare online tax software

Use this table to compare popular online tax software options. Use the column headings to sort the table by the features you’re looking for the most.

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Federal returns starting price State returns starting price Maximum return guaranteed? Free options available? Photo import of W2? Live chat?
Intuit TurboTax
$40
$40
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
File returns electronically and get taken step by step through the tax-filing process, so that you can receive the fastest refund possible for yourself, and/or your business.
Keeper Tax
$89
Included
Yes
No
No
Yes
Keeper Tax helps people with 1099 income automatically find tax write-offs among their purchases. At tax time, file federal and state directly for $89 or export to file elsewhere for $39.
Liberty Tax
$34.95
$29.95
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Choose from EZ, Basic, Deluxe, and Premium packages to support the simplest or the most complicated of returns; including business and investments.
TaxAct
$0
$4.95
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
TaxAct offers downloadable and online tax preparation services for personal, business and enterprise use
eSmart tax
$44.95
$36.95
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Compare tax preparation plans for this software backed by Liberty Tax Service.
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Bottom line

Choosing the right tax software from the start will save you a lot of time and headache come tax season. As always, explore your tax filing options and learn which steps you should take to file your taxes this year.

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