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Best tax software

Explore tax software programs featuring auditing support, integrations, and reasonable prices.

If you’ve missed the April 18 deadline or have extended your deadline to October 16 and are ready to start the filing process, here are top five software to consider. The best tax software will helps you file your taxes online with little hassle or frustration. They offer a competitive price, ease of use, multiple filing options and support.

The 5 best tax software programs

The best tax software depends on your specific tax situation. Here are the top tax software programs if you’re a freelancer, a small business owner, or have a simple or complicated return

Best overall: Intuit TurboTax

Intuit TurboTax

TurboTax wins best overall for its TurboTax Live Assisted option which gives you the best of both worlds of DIY and full-service tax preparation. It’s a self-paced do-it-yourself process with access to a tax expert when you need it. It appeals to all types of situations, including those who may need a lot of tax advice or actual preparation. Plus, it comes with several money-back guarantees, and QuickBooks users can easily import data straight into the software. There’s also a Maximum refund guarantee it’ll find every deduction and credit you qualify for or you get your money back. And if your return has calculator errors, it’ll cover your IRS penalties.
~37% of taxpayers qualify for TurboTax Free Edition. Form 1040 + limited credits only.

Best for freelancers: Keeper

Keeper

Keeper is designed with freelancers in mind. The tax software does all the legwork for you by connecting with your bank account and tracking your expenses throughout the year to help personalize your tax filing experience with questions that only apply to your situation. Plus, its smart algorithms comb through your transaction history to maximize your deductions and identify tax breaks you qualify for. A tax professional will prepare your return, which you can submit to the IRS right from the app.

Best for complex taxes: TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer Premium lets you maximize your credits and deductions, including investments, so that no matter what your financial situation may be, you’ll get all the tax breaks you qualify for. With Premium, you’ll also get IRS audit assistance and unlimited access to a tax professional. But instead of a live one-on-one conversation, you’ll get personalized guidance through its Ask a Tax Professional ticket system.

Best free tax software: Cash App

Cash App

Cash App Taxes is one of the few tax software that is truly free. Most tax software reserve their free plans for simple returns only. That means specific deductions or credits may bump you up to another category and force you to upgrade your plan. But Cash App Taxes lets you file your federal and state return for free, no matter your tax situation, even if you have itemized deductions, business income, self-employment tax and capital gains. And it comes with several guarantees to boost your confidence in its software. It also offers a refund guarantee that promises that if you receive a larger refund of at least $25 with another tax preparation service, Cash App will pay you the difference put to $100 in the form of a gift card. But its customer support is lacking.

Best for small businesses owners: H&R Block

H&R Block

H&R Block is best for self-employed individuals, s-corp, c-corp and partnerships. Choose between filing your own taxes with on-demand expert assistance or paying a bit more to work with a tax professional. And when you file with an H&R Block tax pro, you’ll get year-round tax support to help your business run smoother and additional peace of mind.

Methodology

Finder’s banking experts researched 13 tax software to find the top options for free filings, complext taxes, freelancers and small business owners. When choosing the best accounts we consider the following factors:

  • Money-back, maximum refund and 100% accuracy guarantees
  • Federal and state price
  • Unique features
  • Ability to include dependents
  • Audit support

We know that having access to all the deductions and tax credits you qualify for is important, especially since they can lower the taxable income in your highest income tax bracket. But we didn’t make it a deal-breaker when comparing tax software since every person’s tax situation is different. Instead, we narrow down the field with different types of income in mind.

How to choose a 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 live support by chat or phone while others are limited to email support only.
  • Compatibility. Consider how you want to access the platform: mobile, desktop, or web browser. Some tax software are only available using one method.
  • Integration. Some business tax software don’t integrate with any accounting and business programs, while others like H&R Block or TurboTax do.

Compare online tax software

Narrow down your search for online tax software by comparing price, guarantees and live chat. Select Compare on up to four software to view their features side by side.

Name Product Federal starting price State returns starting price Maximum return guaranteed? Free options available? Photo import of W2? Live chat?
FreeTaxUSA
$0
$14.99
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
File federal returns for free and pay $14.99 for state returns with this online tax preparation software.
Keeper
$20
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.
Jackson Hewitt
$25
$25
Yes
No
No
Yes
File taxes online or in-person for a no-fee refund advance loan. But watch out for high filing fees
Intuit TurboTax
$39
$39
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.
Liberty Tax
$45.95
$36.95
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.
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What is a tax software?

A tax software program helps you prepare and file your tax returns. They offer a streamlined process using a series of questions to find the deductions and credits you may qualify for and then it calculates your tax refund or tax bill based on your answers. While many tax software are self-guided, many companies offer on-demand tax expert support to help answer your questions.

What’s the difference between a desktop and online tax software?

Desktop and online tax software cost about the same price and come with the same customer service access. This table highlights how they’re different.

FeaturesDesktop tax softwareOnline tax software
Can use on multiple devices
Works on all computers
Can use without internet access
Has more features
Better for complex returns

How much do they cost?

Prices vary depending on the tax filing company you choose, whether you want access to a tax expert and your specific tax situation. The more complex your taxes are, the more expensive your software likely costs. This table highlights the average price based on the type of filing you need to do.

Type of tax returnAverage price
Individual simple tax return
  • Free — federal return
  • Free — state return
Individual complex tax return
  • $0 to $369 — federal return
  • $0 to $64 — state return
Small business tax return
  • $80 to $999 — federal return
  • $0 to $64 — state return

What documents do I need to get started?

You don’t need any information to sign up for a tax software other than your name, email address and phone number. But you should have these documents on hand when you start the filing process.

  • W2s
  • 1099s for earned interest, self-employed income, dividends, retirement distributions and more
  • Receipts for child care, educational expenses, medical bills, charitable donations, property taxes and mortgage interest, state and local taxes and any other expenses you’re claiming as a deduction
  • Proof of retirement contributions

Are online tax software services safe?

Yes. Registered tax providers and the IRS take security precautions to ensure that your financial information is handled safely. If you still prefer to do things face to face, consider a service like H&R Block, which offers branches for paperwork drop-off. You can also print and mail in your own Form 1040.

What are the benefits of an online tax software?

Using an online tax software has these benefits:

  • Fast. Filing your taxes online can typically be done in one day and takes less time than going to someone’s office and waiting on them to do it for you.
  • Cost-effective. Using an online tax software is generally cheaper than hiring a tax preparer, and those with simple returns can file for free in most cases.
  • Accurate. Most tax software programs have an accuracy guarantee and will give you a refund if their software calculates your return incorrectly.
  • Highest refund guaranteed. Most tax software programs also have a refund guarantee where they’ll pay you the difference if another platform calculates a higher refund.

What should I look out for?

Here’s what to look out for when filing your taxes with an online tax software.

  • May not be best for complex returns. If you have a complicated tax situation with multiple income streams, deductions and credits, it may be easier to hire a tax preparer to do the work for you.
  • Varying customer service. Some platforms like TurboTax offer live support if you need help quickly, while others only help via email.
  • Upselling. Platforms like TurboTax are notorious for upselling you during the filing process, resulting in you paying more to file your taxes than you thought you would.
  • May lack a human touch. Unless you choose a platform that offers help from a tax professional, you may have trouble getting your questions answered if they’re too complex.

2 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. Otherwise, a business tax software can help you create an accurate return
  • 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.

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.

Frequently asked questions

Can I apply for the ERC using a tax software program?

Yes, your business can apply for the ERC tax credit using a tax software program.

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