Tax apps make it possible to directly prepare and file your individual tax returns from your smartphone or other mobile device. You won’t pay anything to use the app; the only cost is the filing fees once you’re ready to file your federal or state tax returns and those are the same as what you’d pay if you used the provider’s online tax software program. Plus, it’s easy to save your work in the app and resume it on a computer. You can even get live help from a tax expert.
If you want the convenience of working on your taxes from your phone or computer or simply checking your refund status from your phone, a tax app is the way to go. We reviewed the tax apps available on the iOS and Android app stores to find the best based on cost, the types of tax situations they can handle, the support you can get, and more.
Read on to learn more about the best tax apps.
Best Overall : TurboTax Tax Return App
Why We Chose It: The TurboTax Tax Return App is well-designed, easy to use, and owned by a well-regarded, publicly traded company, Intuit. Although you’ll pay a premium for the top plans, you’ll get an excellent level of support. Plus, free filers can get unlimited help for free from a tax expert directly through the app if they file by March 27, 2021.
TurboTax is a brand of Intuit, a well-regarded, publicly traded company.
Live support from a tax expert or CPA is available directly from the app and is offered for free to individuals filing simple tax returns by March 27, 2021.
You can seamlessly switch from the app to your computer without losing your progress.
Costs are higher than some of the other tax apps available on the market.
You can’t use the app to file tax returns for businesses not reported on Schedule C. You can only use it to file personal tax returns.
Except for the limited-time offer for free filers, you have to pay an additional fee to get live support from a tax expert.
TurboTax is a division of Intuit, a well-regarded, publicly-traded company founded in 1983 and headquartered in Mountain View, California. In addition to TurboTax, the other Intuit brands include QuickBooks (a leading accounting software program) and Mint (a personal finance and budgeting app).
With TurboTax, you can file your taxes using its online tax software, via its mobile tax app, or with its desktop tax software. The cost of filing your taxes with the mobile app is the same as what you’ll pay if you use the online tax software. You can switch seamlessly between the tax app and online tax software, and the app is nicely designed. Plus, even free filers can get live support from a tax expert or CPA directly from the app. All of this made it stand out as the overall best tax app.
If you have a simple tax return, you can file your federal and state taxes for free and get free access to live help from a tax expert. To take advantage of this offer, you must file by March 27, 2021.
To file your taxes using the app, all you need to do is scan your W2 and other documents with your camera. The app will put the information into the correct forms. You can also import your prior year’s returns if you used TurboTax.
TurboTax can handle most personal tax situations, including self-employment business income, rental income, and investments. If you have a simple tax return (e.g., you file Form 1040 with standard deductions), the TurboTax free edition allows you to file your federal and state taxes for free. However, if you need to prepare tax returns for a business not reported on Schedule C (e.g., you need to file Form 1120 or Form 1065), you’ll need to use the TurboTax Home and Business edition or the TurboTax Business edition rather than the app. This is a drawback consistent across all of the tax apps.
To protect your account, TurboTax will send a single-use code to a trusted device after you’ve entered your password so you can log in securely. You can also answer a series of security questions to enter the app after entering your password. Face ID, Touch ID, and data encryption are also available as security measures.
The app is free to download, but the cost per tax federal return ranges from $60 to $200, plus $50 to $55 per state return (we’ve included what you’ll pay for live tax support in the highest cost shown for each tax app). You won’t pay until you’re ready to file.
The TurboTax app is available for iOS and Android devices.
Read the full TurboTax review.
Best for Customer Support : TaxSlayer Free Tax App
Why We Chose It: With the TaxSlayer free tax app, everyone gets access to unlimited phone and email tech support. Plus, the company has a robust library of customer support tools on its website and its top plans include help from a tax pro at a cost that’s less than any of the other companies we reviewed.
Everyone gets unlimited phone and email support with questions about the app.
Help from a tax professional is included with the highest-cost plans, which are less costly than the competition.
You can seamlessly shift from the mobile app to the online tax software if you want.
TaxSlayer is a family-owned company with a good reputation.
You can’t scan documentation (e.g., W-2s) into the app using your phone’s camera.
You have to upgrade to higher-cost plans to get support from a tax pro and audit help.
You can only use the free plans to file very simple tax returns.
TaxSlayer is a privately held, family-owned tax preparation software company founded in 1965 and headquartered in Augusta, Georgia. You can use the company’s tax software to prepare your taxes on your own online. If you want to prepare your taxes using your phone or other mobile devices, you can also use TaxSlayer’s free tax app.
What makes TaxSlayer’s free tax app stand out from the competition is the level of support you can get both with its online tax software and its tax app. Everyone who uses TaxSlayer gets access to robust customer support tools on its website, along with unlimited phone and email support if you need help using its tools. If you purchase the higher-level plans, you can get three years of audit assistance, live chat for technical support, and help from a tax professional.
The app is free to use and uses standard security features, including data encryption, set by the IRS. To input your information into the app, you’ll need to manually input it; you can’t scan your W-2s or other documents with your phone’s camera. However, if you filed with TaxSlayer in the previous year, you can directly populate with that year’s information.
The cost of preparing your taxes using the tax app is the same as what you’ll pay if you prepare your taxes using TaxSlayer’s online tax software. If you only need to file a simple tax return (e.g., you earn income from an employer or have retirement income), then you can file your federal and state tax returns with TaxSlayer for free. If you earn other income types, are self-employed, or want to take advantage of additional deductions, then the three paid plans go up to $54.95 to file a federal return or $39.95 to file a state return.
The TaxSlayer app is available for iOS and Android devices.
Read the full TaxSlayer review.
Best Free Tax Filing : Credit Karma Tax App
Why We Chose It: Not only is the Credit Karma Tax app free, but you won’t pay anything to file your federal and state tax returns. You can even file your taxes for free if you have relatively complex tax situations such as being self-employed or having investment income.
Even people with relatively complex tax situations, like self-employment income, can file their federal and state tax returns for free.
You can upload data from your prior year’s tax returns, even if you didn’t file them with Credit Karma.
Free audit support is provided to everyone.
This privately owned company has a good reputation.
You can’t get one-on-one support from a tax expert.
The app can’t handle all tax situations, like underpayment penalties or multiple state tax returns.
Some state tax returns aren’t supported.
Credit Karma is a free service that helps people access and monitor their credit scores, develop budgets, and even file their taxes. The privately owned company was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in San Francisco, California. We selected it as the best free tax app because even people with relatively complex tax situations can file their federal and state tax returns for free.
Not only is the Credit Karma tax app free, but people with a wide variety of tax situations can file their taxes completely for free. This includes simple tax returns and more complicated tax returns for self-employed people, those with business income reported on Schedule K-1, and even filers with investment income. Plus, even if your prior year’s taxes were prepared with another service (e.g., TurboTax), the data can be imported into the Credit Karma tax app, and you can take a picture of your documents to scan some of the information (e.g., W-2s).
Credit Karma Tax uses data encryption, two-factor authentication, and more to protect your information. Assistance is available via the Credit Karma Tax help center, plus you can send a message to the team to get support although you can't receive live support from a tax expert. Additionally, everyone who files their taxes using the Credit Karma tax app gets free access to audit defense. You usually have to upgrade to one of the top plans to get this type of support.
The Credit Karma tax app doesn’t come without its drawbacks. It can’t support all tax situations, including filing multiple state tax returns or filing state returns before you’ve filed your federal tax returns. It also can’t handle underpayment penalties if you didn’t pay enough state or federal tax during the year. Also, not all states are supported (e.g., Louisiana is coming soon), and so you’ll need to make sure your state is on its list of supported states.
The app is available on iOS and Android devices.
Learn more about how to use Credit Karma Tax.
Best for Simple Returns : TaxAct Express App
Why We Chose It: The TaxAct Express tax app allows you to import documents directly into the tax app by scanning them with your phone. This makes it easy to get simple tax returns filed fast.
You can file simple federal tax returns for free.
Live support from a tax expert is available with all plans if you pay for it.
You can import documents into the tax app by scanning them with your phone.
TaxAct has a good reputation.
You’ll have to pay to file each state tax return, even with the “free” plan.
You can only get live support from a tax expert if you pay for it.
Its top plan is one of the most expensive of those we reviewed if you opt for live support from a tax expert.
As with most of the tax apps we reviewed, the free version only works with simple returns.
TaxAct is a privately owned digital tax preparation company founded in 1998 and headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In addition to helping people file their taxes online, it also has several products available for download and programs built specifically for businesses. If you want to file your taxes using your phone, you can do so using the free TaxAct Express tax app.
The TaxAct Express tax app supports all of its online tax software plans, including simple tax returns and even tax returns for self-employed individuals. It’s best for simple tax returns since it’s easy to scan key information with your phone (e.g., your driver’s license and W-2s) and have it auto-populated into your tax return. The app will even provide you with personalized guidance as you work through the filing process. Plus, you can seamlessly go between the app and the online tax software if you want to use your computer.
If you have a simple tax return, you can file your federal tax return for free. If you have a more complicated tax situation, the cost per federal tax return ranges from $44.95 to $139.95. If you also have a state tax return to file, you’ll need to pay $19.95 to $44.95 each.
If you want live support from a tax pro, it’s available for a fee with every plan (the highest cost we’ve shown is inclusive of this fee). With some tax apps, you can only get this type of support if you upgrade to one of its highest-cost plans and you can’t get it on the lower-cost plans.
Face ID and Touch ID allow you to log in securely to the app, and the app is available for both iOS and Android devices.
Read the full TaxAct review.
Best for Self-Employed : H&R Block Tax Prep and File App
Why We Chose It: Although the H&R Block Tax Prep and File app can help people with a wide variety of circumstances, the live advice you can get from a tax pro makes it especially good for self-employed people. If you get stuck, you can even have a tax expert help you file your tax return.
H&R Block is a publicly traded company with a good reputation.
You can get fee-based support from a tax expert if you need and there are offices located in all 50 states.
You can scan your W-2 into the app using your phone’s camera.
You have to pay an additional fee if you want one-on-one support from a tax expert.
The top plan is the most expensive of the tax apps we reviewed, including support from a tax expert.
As with most of the tax apps we reviewed, the free version only works with simple returns.
H&R Block is a publicly traded tax preparation company that was founded in 1955. It maintains its headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, and has physical locations in all 50 states. Some of its locations are corporate-owned and operated, while others are franchises. Besides professional tax preparation services, H&R Block offers do-it-yourself tools such as online tax software for individual filers and even the H&R Block Tax Prep and File app.
With the H&R Block Tax Prep and File app, you can use your phone to file your taxes using the same plans available with its online tax software. As with all of the providers we reviewed, it's free to use its app, and you’ll only need to pay once you’re ready to file your return. You can file simple state and federal tax returns for free. If you have a more complicated tax situation, the cost per federal tax return ranges from $49.99 to $194.99, with an additional $36.99 fee per state return.
Your prior year’s taxes can be imported, regardless of who prepared them. Plus, you can use the camera on your phone to scan and upload your W-2. Industry-standard data encryption and security tools are used to protect your information.
You can get live tech support via chat or phone for free. If you want unlimited support from a tax expert, it’s available for a fee with all H&R Block’s online tax software plans (the highest cost we showed includes this fee). This is an excellent option if you’re self-employed and aren’t sure how to prepare your taxes. You can even pay for a tax professional to prepare your taxes for you if you get stuck (starts at $69.99 per federal return).
As with the other apps we reviewed, you can seamlessly switch between the mobile app and online tax software and it’s available for Android and iOS devices.
Read the full H&R Block review.
If you want to prepare and file your individual tax returns using your phone, you can use a variety of tax apps. All of the tax apps we reviewed are free, and you’ll only need to pay a fee when you’re ready to file your taxes (unless you’re filing a simple tax return and qualify for free filing). Plus, if you want to switch to your computer, you can seamlessly transition between the app and the online tax software. Plus, these apps use industry-standard security practices to protect the privacy of your data.
We selected the TurboTax tax app as the best overall because it has an easy-to-use design and is offered by Intuit, a well-regarded, publicly traded company. You can take a picture of your W-2 with your phone and import it directly to the app. Plus, you can get unlimited live support from a tax expert with a click of a button directly through the app. TurboTax provides this live support to filers using the free edition at no cost for a limited time.
|Tax App||Why We Picked It||Notable Features||Federal Return Cost|
|TurboTax Tax Return App||Best Overall||The app is well-designed and easy to use by filers with various tax situations, and you can easily connect with a tax expert directly from the app.||Free to $200|
|TaxSlayer Free Tax App||Best for Customer Support||Everyone gets unlimited tech support, and its highest-cost plan has a lower-than-average cost and includes help from a tax pro.||Free to $47|
|Credit Karma Tax App||Best Free Tax Filing||You can file even relatively complicated federal and state tax returns at no cost.||Free|
|TaxAct Express App||Best for Simple Returns||Easily import data into the app by scanning it with your phone’s camera.||Free to $139.95|
|H&R Block Tax Prep and File App||Best for Self-Employed||Easy to upgrade to a plan that includes live assistance from a tax expert.||Free to $194.99|
What Are Tax Apps?
Tax apps are tools you can access from your iOS or Android devices to file your taxes directly from your phone. These apps are provided by commercial tax software providers and connect seamlessly to their online tax software programs. You won’t pay anything for the app and won’t have to pay a fee to the provider until you’re ready to file your federal or state tax returns.
How Are Tax Apps Different From Tax Software?
Tax apps allow you to file your tax returns directly from your phone. With a tax app, you’ll be able to save your work and resume it using the provider’s online tax software. It’s different from tax software you download to your computer because all of your data is stored online in the cloud. This makes it easy for you to access your data from any computer or mobile device.
These tax apps also use industry-standard security procedures, like data encryption and advanced login requirements. This helps keep your personal information safe from hackers.
Are Tax Apps Safe to Use to File My Taxes?
It’s just as safe to file your taxes using a tax app as it is to use an online tax software program. Commercial tax software companies use industry-standard data encryption and security tools to keep your data and identity safe. Plus, many tax apps have an additional layer of protection built-in, such as Touch ID and Face ID.
As with any financial services app, do your homework and make sure you’re using a tax app from a reputable company that clearly discloses its security measures.
Will I Get a Refund If I Use a Tax App?
The amount of tax refund you can get isn’t based on whether you use a tax app. Rather, it depends on your financial situation, how much money you made during the prior tax year, what you paid in taxes, and the types of tax deductions or credits you can get.
Tax apps and tax software programs make it easy to figure out how much you owe in taxes or the amount of refund you’re eligible to receive. Plus, you can even file your taxes and check on your refund status directly from your phone using the tax app.
How Much Do Tax Apps Cost?
There aren’t any costs to get a tax app. Instead, you’ll usually be required to pay a filing fee once you’re ready to submit your federal and state tax returns. Filing fees per federal tax return range from $0 to $200. You can expect the filing fee per state tax return to range from $0 to $55. If you have simple tax returns (e.g., you only have W-2 income and take standard deductions), it’s usually free to file your federal and state tax returns.
We reviewed the tax preparation apps available on the iOS and Android app stores to identify the best tax apps. We looked for tax apps that allow you to seamlessly transition between the app and the provider’s online tax software. Also, we considered how much it will cost you to file your federal and state tax returns, the types of tax situations it can handle, what types of security measures are in place, and how easy it is to access live support from a tax expert.
All of our picks are affordable, good for individual filers with a wide variety of tax situations, and offer industry-standard security measures.