Best Tax Software Programs

Joseph Meyer
Written by
Last update:

The Best Tax Software of 2021

While the majority of Americans will probably be renewing their frustrating tax season this year, you may be thrilled to know that there is a growing number of people who are embracing tax simplification and preparing their taxes at home.

SimpleTax is ideal for anyone who wants to save time and money by preparing their returns online and get on with their lives.

SimpleTax can be used for your 2017 or 2016 tax returns. You can use SimpleTax for free. What’s even better is that you can use SimpleTax for all your tax situations, i.e. whether you owe money or you’re expecting a refund.

Even if you think you can’t qualify to use SimpleTax, I encourage you to at least have a look at the program before you explore your other choices.

SimpleTax is pretty self explanatory when you start using it. The program offers a guided process to walk you through the return, step by step. All you need to do is enter information about your income, tax credits and deductions (if necessary). After that it will calculate any tax you owe automatically. The only time things get tricky is when you’re trying to claim eligible expenses.

Quick Comparison:

Whether you’re a big business or a small business owner, filing your tax returns can be quite challenging. As some of you said on the survey, dealing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can be very intimidating. Some of you even feel that you don’t get the same treatment as large corporations.

And then there’s the stress associated with filing your tax returns. It can be a painful, though necessary process, especially when you’re having a hard time understanding which form to use and how to use it.

How do you feel about doing your taxes?

Even though you can now choose between a variety of tax software programs, almost half of you (49.12%) said that you use TurboTax. And judging from the positive feedback that you’re giving to the program (4.23 stars), it seems like TurboTax serves its purpose of making the process of filing your taxes a simpler affair. As some of you put it, TurboTax makes tax time not so painful.

Just behind TurboTax at second place is FreeTaxUSA (38.2%). Over 80% of those who use this software are happy with the overall experience.

Reviews of The Best Tax Software Companies

It’s tax season, and you’re probably wondering how do you want to file your taxes this year. Hiring a tax expert can cost you a small fortune, not to mention all of the time it takes to gather all of the documents you will need to give the tax expert the information he/she needs to prepare your taxes. This is why so many people use software to prepare their taxes.

So, which program should you get to fill out your taxes? Many of the big name software companies like TurboTax and H&R Block offer online and offline software programs. But there are a bunch of smaller companies that have also emerged to give you options. Quicken offers online tax software and you can even download the program so that you can file taxes from anywhere on your Mac or PC. TaxAct also offers online tax software, which is nice if you don’t have time to print and file tax forms.

When looking at tax software programs, there are a number of different features and options to think about when deciding which tax software program is right for you. Some tax software programs are better for people with simple tax returns, while other programs are designed for more complex tax returns. No software is perfect … there are always pros and cons to using any software.

TurboTax – Best All-Around

TurboTax (tagline: “Get your taxes done right.”) is the market leader when it comes to tax software. Its largest competitor, the H&R Block program, doesn’t even come close. TurboTax has been consistently rated as the best all-around program with the best user interface.

The program is also continuously updated to account for changes to tax laws, and it offers customers 12 federal e-files for free.

While TurboTax does cost more than some other products, reviewers have found that its quality is worth the money.

H&R Block – Best for Transferring Your Return to Live Preparation

H&R Block is one of the few software programs that directly integrates with the Avalara Live Return Preparation App, making it easy for you to file your return automatically.

The tool does still require you to input some information, but it’s not as technical as the previous versions. Everything is done for you.

TaxAct – Best Price Point for Complicated Returns

TaxAct pricing is competitive with the other online packages, but it doesn’t have as many features, so tax professionals tend to prefer the others listed here.

TaxAct gained financial backing from some big names in the tax and accounting fields, including BDO USA LLP, a public accounting firm with 4,000 tax professionals. The big names provided reliable financial backing for the start-up, and it allowed TaxAct to support an impressive list of specific features and benefits.

The company was founded in 2002 by Carl Jackson and Mike Kosk in San Diego, California. In 2005, Kosk retired to pursue another business, and Jackson’s father, Bryon Jackson, took over the reins. Bryon Jackson has expertise in tax and accounting and has prior experience serving as CFO of the IRS and Ernst & Young.

As a warning, do keep in mind that TaxAct is backed by a professional tax preparer and tax software maker, not a traditional tax software company. It’s actually more similar to a hybrid product that would be sold by an accountant.

If you’re not a tax or accounting professional, you may be willing to trade off some of the features you’ve read about here for a lower price.

E-file – Best for First Time DIY

Online tax software programs provide a good range of features for DIY filers, combining the convenience of online software with access to live-person tax prep advisors for advice and assistance. The majority of online tax software options are for Federal income tax returns only; some include basic state income taxes, while others are integrated with a full-service tax prep provider that provides the ability to complete and e-file both Federal and state income returns.

The tax preparation process is straightforward. When you start a return you’ll have an opportunity to save login information for future use so you can start your return right where you left off last year. Preparing the return is intuitive and is broken down into three simple stages: entering information, review, and final confirmations. When you’re done, your return is e-filed directly to the IRS and you can print a copy for your records.

Preparing your return and e-filing is free. Online tax software programs offer monetary incentives to their tax return providers based on how much money you save by using their product. You’ll receive an IRS tax refund directly deposited into your bank account in as few as 10 days based on how fast you e-file your tax return.

FreeTaxUSA – Best Nearly Free Software

The main types of tax-related software include federal tax preparation software, federal tax filing software, state tax preparation software and state tax filing software. Examples of free tax preparation software include the US Free File Alliance (no purchase required), TaxSlayer (25 of your 1040 federal returns and/or State tax returns for free), prepare your taxes with ExpressTaxRefund (the ability to prepare and file your federal taxes with the help of an expert), and online e-file and free electronic filing options via TaxACT. In addition to software, many tax preparation and filing services also provide software.

Let’s say that you want to utilize free federal e-file and free federal filling software. Then be sure that the software is compatible with the IRS e-file program. It’s also a good idea to check with the IRS to determine if free federal tax filing software can be used for tax preparation.

For free electronic filing software, see IRS ELF filing software (free for individual federal taxes, select businesses and tax professionals) or free electronic filing software from ExpressTaxRefund.

Liberty Tax

I have had nothing but the best experiences with Liberty Tax Service. I have seen the adverts on TV and have heard people rave about it, but I had not taken the time to find out more until tax season came around this year. I decided to go online and see what it was like. I was astonished at the number of offices that I found in my area.

I decided on my local office in the next town and a good friend recommended it to me. I got out the documents that I needed to fill out and soon found out that there was online help as well. This is what the chat feature is for.

I am a little uptight when it comes to dealing with my taxes and whatever I needed to know about them. There is all the information that you could possibly want. Liberty Tax Service has many resources that will make your life and tax season a whole lot easier.

TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer is a web-based tax preparation software system. You can create user accounts for free on the software’s website. Once you have an account, you can log on and begin filling out your 1040 and other tax forms online. Preparing and filing your taxes online is easier, more convenient and faster than going to a tax preparer’s office, and it’s less expensive, too. TaxSlayer also offers an easy way to print and save your tax information or to export your data to other applications such as TurboTax or H&R Block.

The program’s interface is simple and straightforward, and all of the pertinent tax data fields are displayed plainly for you on a single screen. This simplicity can sometimes make it difficult to navigate your way to the extra information you may need, however. For example, if you want to check out the tax laws in any particular state, you might have to hunt around the screen to find it.

Credit Karma Tax

One of the most common problems with tax software programs is the sheer volume of information you have to provide. There are certain circumstances where people might have difficulty keeping track of all the documentation for their tax information. Credit Karma has proposed a solution to this problem. Their Tax Software was designed based on the simplicity and allure of the Credit Karma website.

The Credit Karma Tax program was designed with a number of user friendly tools to help make tax filing easier. With the Tax Software, you will be able to upload your documents using your computer or use an app on your smart phone to make it easier to document your data. The program also has a free service which will help you monitor your tax refund. Depending on your tax return, there might be some cash back from the government.

You will also be able to keep up to date on other credits and deductions you may qualify for so you are able to maximize your tax savings. If you are a self-employed individual looking for tax return preparation, Credit Karma Tax Software also has options to help troubleshoot issues you may encounter while offering help with common issues, such as double tax withholding. This Tax Software won’t cost you anything to use and you can qualify to have your state refund deposited directly into one of your bank accounts.

Jackson Hewitt

A variety of tax software packages are available that can help you prepare your tax return. Before you make a final decision, however, you should always check out the reviews for the software you’re considering.

Tax software reviews are a great way to determine which software has the features you really want, which software has the fewest bugs, and which software has the best customer support to help you along the way. Remember to check out all the reviews – even the reviews for free tax software programs.

You’ll get the most useful feedback if you take the time to fill out the feedback form provided by the software developer and if you use the software long enough to develop a solid opinion about it.

It’s also a good idea to check out the support forums for your favorite software and look at how quickly the company responds to customer issues. Whether you need to ask a question or report a bug, make sure you get a timely response when you communicate with the software developer.

eSmart Tax

At first glance, Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) may seem like a tax shelter for the wealthy, but Canadians across all income brackets are discovering the benefits of this type of account. A recent survey conducted by the polling firm Angus Reid found that a majority of Canadians believe that the tax-free savings account benefits the rich.

In response to these findings, TaxFyle Inc., a Canadian tax preparation software provider, has launched a new public awareness campaign called the TSFA Facts as a strategy to educate Canadians about the importance of the tax-free savings account.

According to the company, few Canadians realize how beneficial a TFSA can be to them, and the TFSA Facts campaign aims to help them raise awareness about the unique tax shelter and how it differs from a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP).

TaxFyle Inc. is a leading Canadian tax preparation software provider that utilizes the latest cloud-based technology to help Canadian users with their tax filing needs. The company’s easy and straightforward interface allows users to quickly and easily file their taxes online, and with its partnership with the Canada Revenue Agency, the company offers one of the fastest tax filing services in the nation.

ezTaxReturn

EzTaxReturn is one of the leading tax preparation software, and the company that owns it is behind many well-known personal tax services. I used the program to prepare my 2011 tax return and found it very easy to use.

It offers a free version, but I highly advise you to purchase the premium version. It comes with excellent customer service, you can save state tax returns, and you can file your tax return at a later time. There is no way I could have completed my return without ezTaxReturn.

Community Tax

CTFP programs are meant for the poverty-stricken, but almost everyone, even if you don’t qualify for this tax program, you can still benefit from CTFP programs.

To enrol in a CTFP program, you will need to visit the community tax office and complete and submit all the required documents there.

This is an indication that your income is below the maximum level.

You could be receiving a Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.).

If you are receiving federal assistance such as SSI.

If you receive energy assistance from the Texas Low Income Energy Assistance Program (TLEAP).

If you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

You reside in a mobile home and are a registered owner in a mobile home park.

You are receiving non-cash food assistance from a CTFP program.

You are a member of a family enrolled in a pre-kindergarten program.

You are a member of a family that is participating in a Food Stamp Employment and Training program.

You are a senior citizen.

1040.com

OLT.com

I filed using one of the leading tax software programs on the market and found it to be a great tax software program. It’s easy to use and is one of the best tax software programs to file your tax return. I highly recommend it.

DIY Tax

Tax season is a time when many people sit hunched over a desk or computer struggling to pull together all the necessary financial documents and filing paperwork. With so much to do, it can be easy to miss something, especially if you don’t have a lot of tax knowledge.

If you want to make your own tax return, a pre-filled form might be just the thing for you. These types of software programs have questions to walk you through filling out your return. The benefit of these programs is that you can save time by simply entering your data; the software does most of the work for you. Another benefit of these programs is that they have gone through all the government rules and regulations, so you don’t have to worry about the format of your tax return or any tax rules that may be particularly difficult. As with anything, these programs will save you time if you have a return that is very straightforward. If you have a questionable item on your tax return, it might be worth it to consult with a tax professional.

What You Need to Know About Your Tax Online Preparation Options

Tax time is an annual celebration for many people. It means that you did a great job last year with your tax returns and that you deserved to enjoy the fruits of your labor. It could also mean that you did not qualify for any government programs and you hope to be granted benefits if you prepare your own tax returns or that you need to make some important tax decisions because you did not have the right information before.

Regardless of your reasons for gathering with your tax forms, it is always a good idea to go with a software program that can help you accomplish your goal. Tax preparation is not an easy feat. It involves doing a huge amount of work to get all the information and filling out the forms correctly. This is why many people use tax programs to help them with the process and to make sure that they have all the right information.

When it is time to pick a program, it is important to understand that each program is different. Here are some features to look for when deciding which program to use this year.

Who will tax software work best for?

Your income and your tax situation determines which tax software you’ll use. If your situation is simple AND you have common deductions and credits, you should be able to get by with one of the least expensive online options. If you’re filing on a Schedule C, E or F, you’re eligible for the free version of TurboTax.

Otherwise, if you have uncommon deductions, high net income, a complicated return, self-employment income, rental real estate, or other special situations, you should start with one of the higher-priced programs.

If you are in a profession where you will consistently need a tax program, or if you multi-filers, cost-per-return is the best calculation to use. If you have a spouse, your annual cost-per-return will be half what it would be if you were single.

Unfortunately, you can’t just take your total tax bill divided by the number of returns, and take that as your cost per return. (Even though that’s how it’s done in the IRS instructions.)

The IRS instructions actually show four different ways to calculate your cost per return. Qualified Internet prices include the cost of state tax preparation.

The only way to know what the IRS charges for your state is to check the IRS website.

When to Pay a Professional

While there are some do-it-yourself websites that will file your taxes for you, these generally involve putting a lot of information into their templates. If you prefer to have control over what is being said on your tax return, it’s probably better to use an application like TurboTax or TaxAct, which allow you to do all of the investing, itemizing and calculating on your own.

Tax preparation software is definitely easier to use than traditional paper forms, since you don’t need to keep track of all the address information and work with the IRS form. But for heavy tax payers, the software can be too limited. If you have a lot of costs, credits or other income, taxes are better left up to a professional.

Keep in mind, though, that this is not the only time you may want to hire the services of a professional. If you have any questions about your taxes, or if you have an audit, it’s probably time to contact a tax attorney.

How We Chose the Best Tax Software Programs

Tax Software comes in a variety of packages, including stand-alone software and apps and software for users with multiple devices. To determine which programs are best suited to your tax preparation needs, you need to consider the type of work you do, the special tax provisions that pertain to your business, and the security and availability of your records.

To make your selection easier, we reviewed the latest tax preparation software and compatible devices in order to determine which programs are available on multiple platforms, including desktop, online, and tablet computers. We also considered filing capabilities, plus features like scheduling, banking, investment tracking, and bill-paying.

We looked for software that walks you through each step of the tax preparation and filing process and also for backup and file recovery features. Preparer certification was also a consideration, as it ensures the absolute best service and expertise.

Our selection process was based on the following factors:

{1}. Tax preparation for the various types of tax forms/filings for each software program.
{2}. Software programs and platform and user friendliness.
{3}. Price (of course) and cost factors.
{4}. Features of the software programs and ability to update.
{5}. Any other relevant factor.

The below is our complete list of the best tax software programs based on the above factors:

Final Thoughts on the Best Tax Software Programs

Congratulations, you’ve made it! You’re about to file your taxes. Now, the only question is which service do you use to file them? Since the best tax software programs all do the same thing (file your taxes), it’s not an article about leaving one and going to another. Instead, this post will help you become more aware of the factors that will allow you to make the best decision possible.