Tax software programs allow individuals and business owners with little to no tax knowledge to accurately file their tax returns, get their maximum owed refund, and avoid IRS audits. What’s more, tax preparation software makes online tax filing a breeze by walking users through every step of the process and checking for errors and deductions along the way.
The best tax software programs make it easy to quickly do your taxes accurately. They also come with fair pricing for your tax preparation needs and good customer support if you have any questions along the way. If you get really stuck, the best tax software connects you with someone who can answer tax questions unique to your situation.
Best Overall : TurboTax
- Price: $90 + $50 per state (Premier Plan)
- Support: Phone, chat, video, full tax preparation
- Accuracy Guarantee: Money-back
We picked TurboTax as best overall because it is easy to use, offers different pricing tiers for different needs, and offers the option to upgrade for live support.
Easy-to-use tax wizard
Upgradable tax support
DIY and live assist plans
Limited tax support unless you pay
Expensive state filing fees
TurboTax makes it easy for first-time or inexperienced tax filers to get started. Users are first asked to choose their situation, like “I want to maximize deductions and credits,” “I have a job (received W-2,” etc. This helps TurboTax determine which pricing plan is right for the user. The software then uses plain-language questions to walk users through every part of the tax filing process and includes quick explanations of confusing terms or processes.
TurboTax also offers many other conveniences, including importing a PDF of a previous return to start a new return, importing W-2 and 1099 forms by snapping a picture of them, and the ability to file taxes using the TurboTax mobile app. Users also have the option to get their return reviewed by a CPA or agent before they file as well as unlimited live tax advice for an extra fee.
TurboTax offers a variety of pricing plans. Users can choose from one of four DIY TurboTax plans or four TurboTax Live plans. Fees for all plans are only due at the time of filing.
Read our full TurboTax review
|Free Plan||Deluxe Plan||Premier Plan||Self-Employed Plan|
|FREE||$60 + $50 per state filed||$90 + $50 per state filed||$120 + $50 per state filed|
|Free filing of simple federal and state tax returns||All Free Plan features||All Deluxe Plan features||All Premier Plan features|
|Covers W-2 income, Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC), and child tax credits||Searches 350+ tax deductions and credits||Covers stocks, bonds, ESPPs, and other investments||Help for contractors, freelancers, and small business owners|
|Import PDF return from other tax software||Maximizes mortgage and property tax deductions||Auto import investment income||Industry-specific deductions|
|Audit Support Guarantee||Homeowner tax breaks (Schedule A)||Rental property income and tax deductions||One-on-one help from self-employment specialists|
|24/7 access to an online community||One-on-one on-demand help||Expense, mileage, and job tracking|
|Import 1099-MISC from a photo|
|TurboTax Live Plans|
|Basic Plan||Deluxe Plan||Premier Plan||Self-Employed Plan|
|$80 + $45 per state filed||$120 + $55 per state filed||$170 + $55 per state filed||$200 + $55 per state filed|
|Prep, print, and e-file with help from a tax expert||All Basic Plan features||All Deluxe Plan features||All Premier Plan features|
|Import W-2 from a photo||Talk with a tax expert about 350+ deductions and credits||Covers stocks, bonds, ESPPs, and other investments||Tax advice for self-employment income and expenses|
|Final review and/or filing from a CPA or EA||Review mortgage tax deductions with a CPA or EA||Auto import investment income||Industry-specific deductions|
|Donation deduction support||Covers rental property income and tax deductions||Personalized audit assessment|
|Account for gains and losses from cryptocurrency transactions||Expense, mileage, and job tracking|
Runner-Up, Best Overall : H&R Block
- Price: $69.99 + $44.99 per state (Premier Online Plan)
- Support: Phone, chat, video, in-person, full tax preparation
- Accuracy Guarantee: $10,000
We chose H&R Block because it offers competitive pricing and the most commonly-needed features for easy tax preparation, but it isn’t quite as easy to use as TurboTax.
Walk-in help at 12,000 locations
Upgradable tax support options
DIY and live support plans
Limited tax support unless you pay
More expensive than competitors
H&R Block offers practically everything that TurboTax does for a little less. Users get a similar interface that walks them through the tax preparation process, popup explanations, and the ability to have a return reviewed by an accountant for an extra fee. Unlike TurboTax, however, users can also go to a brick-and-mortar H&R Block office to talk to an expert in person.
Like TurboTax, H&R Block lets users get started quickly by importing taxes from a previous year and uploading a photo of their W-2 form. It also offers a free plan for simple tax returns like TurboTax but with the added benefit of being able to file Schedule 1 through 3 forms which allow users to report business income, alimony, deductible student loan interest, and more.
Like TurboTax, H&R Block splits its offering between the DIY File Online and Online Assist plans. All plans include on-demand chat, screen sharing, and an online help center.
Read our full H&R Block review
|H&R Block File Online Plans|
|Free Online Plan||Deluxe Online Plan||Premier Online Plan||Self-Employed Online Plan|
|FREE||$49.99 + $44.99 per state filed||$69.99 + $44.99 per state filed||$104.99 + $44.99 per state filed|
|Snap-a-pic W-2 import||All Free Online Plan features||All Deluxe Online Plan features||All Premium Online Plan features|
|Self-help via a help center||Six years' access to tax returns||Import expenses from popular expense tracking apps||Expense import from popular expense tracking apps|
|Technical support (by chat)||DeductionPro® to optimize donations||Cost basis calculation||Import Uber driver tax information|
|Earned Income Tax Credit||Technical support (by chat or phone)||Freelance/Contractor income with expenses less than $5,000||Small business expenses (home office, depreciation, vehicle, etc.)|
|Child care expenses||Health Savings Account (HSA)||Stock sales income|
|Student loan interest||Real estate taxes||Rental property income|
|Retirement plan income||Mortgage interest|
|Social Security income|
|Child tax credit|
|H&R Block Online Assist Plans|
|Basic Online Assist Plan||Deluxe Online Assist Plan||Premier Online Assist Plan||Self-Employed Online Assist Plan|
|$69.99 + $39.99 per state filed||$109.99 + $49.99 per state filed||$159.99 + $49.99 per state filed||$189.99 + $49.99 per state filed|
|Unlimited expert help||All Basic Online Assist Plan features||All Deluxe Online Assist Plan features||All Premium Online Assist Plan features|
|Snap-a-pic W-2 import||Unlimited expert help||Cost basis calculation||Expense import from popular expense tracking apps|
|Technical support (by chat)||Six years' access to tax returns||Freelance/Contractor income with expenses less than $5,000||Import Uber driver tax information|
|Earned Income Tax Credit||DeductionPro® to optimize donations||Stock sales income||Small business expenses (home office, depreciation, vehicle, etc.)|
|Child care expenses||Transparent pricing with Price Preview||Rental property income|
|Student loan interest||Guidance for homeowners|
|Retirement plan income||Technical support (by chat or phone)|
|Social Security income||Health Savings Account (HSA)|
|Child tax credit||Real estate taxes|
Best Value : TaxSlayer
- Price: $37 + $39 per state (Premium Plan)
- Support: Phone, email
- Accuracy Guarantee: Money-back (plus penalties and interest)
We picked TaxSlayer as the best value tax software due to its affordable pricing with a 100% accuracy guarantee.
Low state filing fees
100% accuracy guarantee
Less intuitive interface than competitors’
Few additional tax support options
TaxSlayer offers a simple interface like most of the providers we reviewed. Users just start by entering their tax situation (or importing last year’s tax return), enter their income, or import a W-2, and the software gets to work finding the best deductions. On-screen explanations aren’t as comprehensive as that of TaxSlayer’s competitors, but users can access phone and email tech support.
Unlike other providers, TaxSlayer offers limited options to access accountants or professionals who can review a tax return. Nonetheless, the company offers a 100% accuracy guarantee and reimburses its customers for any federal or state penalties and interest charges. TaxSlayer also states that if their customers don’t receive the maximum refund they are entitled to, they will refund the applicable fees.
Read our full TaxSlayer review
|Simple Free Plan||Classic Plan||Premium Plan||Self-Employed Plan|
|FREE||$17 + $39 per state filed||$37 + $39 per state filed||$47 + $39 per state filed|
|Prepare, print, and e-file||All Simple Free Plan features||All Classic Plan features||All Premium Plan features|
|Includes W-2 income||Includes all credits like Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit||IRS Audit Assistance for three full years||Guidance with 1099 income|
|Student loan interest and education expenses||Includes all deductions and adjustments to income||Ask a tax pro||Maximize Schedule C work expense deductions|
|Free phone and email support||Includes all income types – no form or schedule restrictions||Priority phone and email support||Quarterly estimated tax payment reminders|
|W-2 import and PDF upload||Live chat||Personalized guide to self-employed taxes|
|Unlimited assistance||Year-round tax and income tips|
Best Free Tax Software : Credit Karma
We chose Credit Karma tax because it’s completely free to use for any supported tax situation.
Free filing for all tax returns
Imports from other tax software
Free audit defense support
Doesn’t support all forms
No multi-state filing
No phone support
Like its competitors, Credit Karma lets users import a previous return from other software and a photo of a W-2 and then walks them through the rest of the process using a series of questions and prompts.
Credit Karma claims to offer more filing options than its competitors’ free versions, including filing for mortgage interest, property tax, and student loan interest deductions. The software doesn’t support every type of form, however. Individuals filing in multiple states or who receive funds from a trust or estate need to look elsewhere.
As a free service, Credit Karma offers no phone support. It does, however, include audit defense for its customers which includes consultation from a representative in the event of an IRS audit who will also attend a hearing on their behalf. Users also get accurate calculations and max refund guarantees with reimbursements up to $1,000 in IRS or state tax penalties and up to $100 if another provider shows a larger refund.
Read our full Credit Karma Tax review
Best Support : Jackson Hewitt
We like Jackson Hewitt because it offers a huge network of locations for both online and offline preparation tax help.
Live online support
Tax professionals can finish for you
100% accuracy guarantee
Limited tax support unless you pay
Only imports past Jackson Hewitt returns
On the surface, Jackson Hewitt doesn’t appear to offer anything different than any of the other software we reviewed. It lets users import a W-2 and tax returns filed with Jackson Hewitt (but not its competitors) and then walks them through the filing process through a series of questions with explanatory popups.
Where Jackson Hewitt stands out, however, is in its Tax Pro From Home service. Users simply upload their tax documents online and one of the company’s tax professionals takes over. Any questions and issues are resolved online or over the phone giving customers the experience of working one-on-one with a professional without having to enter an actual office.
Those who want to stick to Jackson Hewitt’s DIY online filing can still enjoy support through an extensive online help center, connect to a real person during business hours via live chat, and benefit from the company’s 100% accuracy guarantee.
Jackson Hewitt has done away with multiple plans for online filers. One $49 fee covers all situations and includes both federal and state filing. However, those filing only federal taxes can do so for only $25.
Best Accuracy Guarantee : TaxAct
We picked TaxAct because it includes a 100% accuracy guarantee that will cover up to $100,000 in taxes, legal costs, and penalties.
Import from most popular tax software
Highest accuracy guarantee reimbursement
Online or downloadable software
Limited support for free plan
No audit support
TaxAct offers nothing new feature-wise than most other tax software programs. Users can import W-2 forms as well as previous returns from other software and then use an online help wizard to answer questions and file their return. TaxAct also offers a downloadable version of its software for Mac and PCs for those who don’t want to prepare their taxes online.
Despite its simplicity, TaxAct offers free and unlimited phone, email, and online chat support. Each plan also comes with a maximum refund and a 100% accuracy guarantee. Unlike other software that offers limited reimbursement options, TaxAct will refund the cost of the software and pay the difference in either the lower refund or higher tax liability, plus any legal costs or penalties, up to $100,000.
TaxAct offers a free plan for simple returns and support as well as three paid plans which can handle increasingly complex tax filings and offer additional support options.
Read our full TaxAct review
|Tax Act Plans|
|Free Plan||Deluxe Plan||Premier+ Plan||Self Employed+ Plan|
|FREE||$54.95 + $54.95 per state filed||$79.95 + $54.95 per state filed||$109.95 + $54.95 per state filed|
|W-2 income||All Free Plan features||All Deluxe+ Plan features||All Premier+ Plan features|
|Dependents||Itemized deductions||Stocks, gains and losses, sales of home or other investments||Freelance income|
|Earned income credit||Child & dependent care||Royalty and Schedule K-1 income||Business & farm income|
|Child tax credits||Mortgage interest||Investment income expenses||Personalized business deductions|
|Current students||Real estate taxes||Rental property income||Calculate depreciation|
|Retirement income||Student loan interest||Foreign bank and financial accounts||Year-round planning resources|
|Prior year import||Health savings account (HSA)||Prioritized support, including screen sharing|
|Unlimited account support||Adoption credits|
|Tax specialist phone support|
There are many options when it comes to doing your taxes, but TurboTax offers the best experience overall if you’re willing to pay a slightly higher price. Its automatic imports and easy-to-follow prompts make it a winner. Plus, if you get stuck, you can upgrade to have a tax pro take over your preparation for you.
Any of these tax programs could give you a nearly identical result if you enter everything accurately, but they don’t all make adding your forms as easy as TurboTax. If you have a lot of forms or more complicated taxes, TurboTax is a top choice.
Compare the Best Tax Software Programs
|Software||Key Features||Support||Free Version||Price|
|Easy-to-use tax wizard with DIY and live assist plans||Phone, Live Chat, Video, Full Tax Preparation||Simple Returns||Up to $200 + $55 per state|
Runner-Up, Best Overall
|DIY and live assist plans with walk-in help at 12,000 locations||Phone, Live Chat, Video, In-Person, Full Tax Preparation||Simple Returns||Up to $189.99 + $49.99 per state|
|Affordably-priced with low state filing fees||Phone, Email||Simple Returns||Up to $47 + $39 per state|
Best Free Tax Software
|Free tax filing for simple and most complex situations||All Returns||Free|
|Tax returns can be handed over to a professional for completion||Live Chat, In-Person, Full Tax Preparation||None||$25 federal only
$49 including all states
Best Accuracy Guarantee
|Accuracy guarantee reimbursement up to $100,000||Phone, Email||Simple Returns||Up to $109.95 + $54.95 per state|
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Tax Software Programs?
Tax software programs automate nearly every aspect of preparing and filing tax returns. Most offer a simple interface that walks users step-by-step through filling out forms, determining deductions, recording income, and more, and then electronically files it for a fee.
“If you aren't as experienced with tax software, you may need to look for software that also offers a support service so that, if you do hit a wall, they can be there to assist,” says Matthew Dailly, Managing Director at Tiger Financial. As a result, most software offers some level of live support to ensure that a return is completed and filed properly and back it up with accuracy and maximum refund guarantees, reimbursing customers for any loss up to a certain amount.
Why Do People Need Tax Software Programs?
For those who don’t want to pay a professional to prepare their tax returns, tax software has two distinct benefits over trying to go it alone. The first is to ensure that every required expense and form are recorded and filed properly.
The second thing tax software can do is maximize tax returns. Because tax laws are changing all of the time, individuals and businesses can’t keep track of every available new deduction. Since tax software gets updated constantly, users are guaranteed to find the latest opportunities to get more money back on their returns.
How Much Does Tax Software Cost?
Most major tax software programs allow users to file very simple tax returns for free. From there, they offer tiered plans that can handle more complex types of filings and often include additional levels of support (live chat, one-on-one consults, etc.).
The paid plans we reviewed ranged from as low as $44.95 plus $34.95 per state filed to as high as $200 plus $55 per state filed. Every provider we reviewed allowed users to start and work on their returns for as long as they want for free and only charged them when it was time to file a return.
How Is Tax Software Different From Accounting Software?
Tax software often picks up where accounting software leaves off. Most accounting software is used to keep track of income and expenses throughout the year. By providing an accurate financial breakdown, this information can be used by small businesses to maximize their deductions and ensure accurate filing at tax time. Many accounting software geared for small businesses can provide certain forms that tax software needs.
How has Covid-19 Impacted Taxes?
Because COVID-19, filing taxes may be different and more complicated in 2020 than in previous years. Some people moved cities, filed for unemployment, or started working from home, adding additional forms and changing their filing requirements.
As a result, unless someone’s employment was completely unchanged by COVID-19, we recommend starting with a provider that offers a free plan with the option to upgrade to a paid plan if the return turns out to be more complicated.
With the second wave of Economic Impact Payments rolling out in January 2021, many tax software providers are also working with the IRS to update their customers on when they can expect their stimulus check or direct deposit payment.
We looked at close to a dozen tax software programs for this review. At the top of our list was software that was easy to use since most people using these programs have little to no tax experience. Support was also an important consideration, so providers that offered more than online guides (like live chat or one-on-one phone support) ranked high.
Price was also an important issue. Because users inevitably absorb some risk by preparing their returns themselves, the software would have to cost considerably less than hiring a professional to make it worth the risk.
Finally, it was important for us to find software that offered generous accuracy and maximum benefit guarantees. While nothing can replace the personal expertise of an experienced accountant or tax professional, tax software companies willing to back up their products with real dollars is the next best thing.