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The best tax software

The best tax-preparation software options are easy to use with a simple interface at an affordable price. Whether you’ve filed as typical or requested an extension until October 15, 2024, many offer free plans for simple returns, live professional assistance add-ons from tax experts and most come with various guarantees.

Tax software is typically a simple question and answer set up where the software will guide you through entering all of your information and determine what credits and deductions you qualify for. Filing your taxes doesn’t have to be hard and the same stands for finding the best tax software. Deciding between the best tax software starts with understanding your individual tax situation and needs for filing your taxes.

TurboTax, the #1 best-selling tax preparation software, is our pick for the best overall tax software for 2024. Backed by an easy user experience and clean interface, TurboTax’s coverage through a number of online guarantees, including audit support, maximum refund and accurate calculations provide the confidence you need to do your taxes. You can file your taxes yourself, get live assistance as needed or hand over your taxes fully to a tax professional.

Overview: Best tax software

  • Our pick for the best tax software: TurboTax
  • Best free version for federal and state: H&R Block
  • Best affordable tax software: TaxAct
  • Best 100% free tax software: Cash App Taxes
  • Best tax software for freelancers: TaxSlayer

TurboTax

TurboTax has established itself as the gold standard in tax preparation software. It offers an easy user experience with a highly intuitive interface that uses a simple question-and-answer format. You don’t need any previous experience preparing tax returns to use it.

TurboTax also offers generous support and tools, helping you at every step of the way. They offer their 100% Accurate Calculations Guarantee. If you have to pay an IRS or state penalty due to an error made by TurboTax, they’ll pay both the penalty and interest. They also offer a solid Audit Support Guarantee that includes an informational Q&A with a tax professional.

The most complicated thing about TurboTax is their pricing since displayed pricing is based off your shared personal situation. You can file your own taxes ($0-$129), get unlimited access to a tax expert via TurboTax Live Assisted ($89-$219) or have a TurboTax expert do your taxes for you with TurboTax Live Full Service (starting at $129). State filing ranges between $64-$69 per state on paid plans.

For TurboTax Live Full Service: Price includes W-2 and 1040. State additional. Final price may vary based on your actual tax situation and forms used or included with your return.

37% of taxpayers qualify for TurboTax Free Edition. Form 1040 + limited credits only. That’s $0 for federal, $0 for state and $0 to file. Situations it’s ideal for for include: W-2 income, limited interest and dividend income, IRS standard deduction and eligibility for either child tax credits or the earned income tax credit.

For those looking to filing taxes themselves but with some help, you can look into TurboTax Live Assisted Basic or TurboTax Live Full Service Basic.

If you have a more complicated return, TurboTax Deluxe searches 350+ deductions and credits to find every tax break you qualify for with the deduction finder. This includes mortgage and property tax deductions for homeowners.

There’s also TurboTax Premium, which brings together the previous features and benefits of former TurboTax Premier and TurboTax Self-Employed offerings. TurboTax Premium is for investors, rental property owners, freelancers, gig workers, and the self-employed to seamlessly and accurately report income. There’s a basic version file yourself version but you can also get unlimited expert advice with TurboTax Live Assisted Premium. TurboTax Live Full Service Premium comes in at the top of the range of pricing for TurboTax and has a tax expert do your taxes from start to finish.

TurboTax’s paid plans for filing your taxes come at a price that many may find worth it for what we consider to be the top tax software with the best filing process for 2024.

» MORE: Read our full TurboTax review

H&R Block

H&R Block Logo

H&R Block combines the services of both their online tax preparation software with their extensive network of 70,000 experienced tax pros working in over 12,000 offices worldwide.

Backed by a max refund with 100% Accuracy Guarantee, H&R Block saw over 5 million customers switch over to their service in 2023. Taxes can be done from the comfort of your own home online, in the office or through appointment-free drop off that works as a hybrid between the two.

Like TurboTax, H&R Block can help you file taxes on your own, file taxes with expert help, or have a tax professional file for you (where the in office or drop off comes into play). The options are pretty convenient across the board for having your taxes done in 2024 with some more transparency on pricing.

There’s a completely free online version ($0 federal+$0 per state filed) if you’re an employee filing with W-2 income, you’re a parent interested in the Child Tax Credit (CTC) or if you’re a student deducting loan interest. This is one of the best free online tax filing options for simple tax returns if you find it suffices for your tax situation. The majority may need to upgrade to a paid package, which also adds on $37 per state filed.

  • Deluxe Online (starting at $35): This can accommodate more complicated tax returns, including itemized deductions and health savings accounts. It can also accommodate 1099 income, but no business expenses.
  • Premium Online (starting at $65): This is for investors. It includes everything from Deluxe but it also accommodates capital gains and losses, rental property income, and freelance and contractor income.
  • Self-Employed Online (starting at $85): This is specifically for small businesses, and can accommodate small business expenses, like a home office, depreciation, and vehicle expenses. You can even import Uber driver tax information, as well as expenses from popular expense tracking apps.

We do like H&R Block most if you qualify for their free filing package but we do appreciate you get access (via chat or video) if you need help included with their paid plans. A tax professional won’t sign or e-file for you but other add-ons or package types, like having a professional file can be paid options. H&R Block ends up being an all-around great tax prep provider whether you have a simple or complicated tax situation.

» MORE: See H&R Block plans or read our full H&R Block review

TaxAct

TaxAct Logo

TaxAct offers a number of reasonable file your own and expert help options with guidance for e-filing. They’ve had users e-file about 100 million returns since 2000.

You get a Max Tax Refund Guarantee an an Accuracy Guarantee that goes all the way up to $100.000. While TaxAct doesn’t have the features TurboTax offers, these major promises from TaxAct stand out.

Prices with TaxAct range from free to $129.98 with an additional fee for state outside of any bundling or add-ons. It depends on what level of service you select based on your tax situation and whether you would like live tax active. Here’s a breakdown of free and paid options with TaxAct.

  • Free (starting at $0): Those with a basic federal tax return (assuming no tax complexity) can file federal for free with TaxAct. This includes W-2 income, unemployment income and retirement income. Unlike other free options for basic, there is a fee of $39.99 per state filed. TaxAct Free plus Xpert if you want Live Tax Active also comes in a hefty price for federal at $59.99.
  • Deluxe (starting at $23.99): For increased options on deductions and credits, homeowners and families there’s Deluxe. This is $23.99 if you file yourself or $83.98 with expert advice (plus $39.99 per state filed). This is a popular option for filers who would like to itemize deductions and includes real estate taxes, health savings accounts an adoption credits.
  • Premier (starting at $31.99): The Premier plan is designed primarily for taxpayers with investment income. Accommodations include stock transactions, the sale of your home or other major investments, royalty and K-1 income, investment income expenses, rental property income, foreign bank, and financial accounts.
  • Self-Employed (starting at $55.99): As name implies, this plan is designed for self-employed income for both personal and business. That includes freelance and farm income, in addition to business income, as well as personalized business deductions and depreciation calculations. It also offers year-round planning resources. Independent contractors, freelancers or side gig workers may like to go with the plan on this version that includes expert advice.

TaxAct Xpert Assist provides unlimited live help from tax experts (when you need it) for a fee of $59.99 on any package. This includes unlimited questions and answers as well as a quick review on your taxes before you complete filing. Taxes can be complicated so being able to share your screen with an expert and provide a visual for your questions can be a great assist when filing your taxes.

Cash App Taxes

Cash App Taxes, formerly Credit Karma Tax, stands out for offering 100% free tax software for both federal and state filing with a maximum refund guarantee. There are no upsells and no hidden fees for this tax software that works no matter your situation—simple or complex.

Completely free
Cash App Taxes

Cash App Taxes, formerly Credit Karma Tax, has a unique competitive niche. It’s the rare online tax service that lets you file simple and complex returns fast and easy for free — no paid tiers and no surprise fees.

Pros:
  • Free for multiple tax forms and schedules
  • Great mobile app access
  • Simple interface, layout, and navigation
Cons:
  • Limited customer support
  • No multiple state returns
File Now

Yes, Cash App Taxes is really free. The free filing with Cash App Taxes sounds great but know from the onset you won’t the help or overall user experience as the other major tax software options. With that said, if you’re fine with a lesser degree of support, the process might can be relatively painless. Input some basic details and the software shows you only the sections you need to complete with step-by-step instructions.

Cash App Taxes supports a number of major IRS forms and schedules, including any of the 1099-K, 1099-NEC and 1099-MISC you may have received as a gig worker instead of a W-2 if you drive for Uber. And, if you did get a W-2, you can snap a photo of it to add it automatically.

Cash App Taxes also lets you import tax returns from a prior year if you used another top software previously and want to make the switch to this tax software this year. You can download a copy of your return and upload it to Cash App Taxes from TurboTax, H&R Block and TaxAct. Coincidentally, those are the other three top options we rank with Cash App Taxes.

There’s both a maximum refund guarantee and an accurate calculations guarantee through Cash App Taxes. The maximum refund guarantee applies if you receive a larger federal tax refund or owe less (with the same tax return information provided) when you file an amended income tax return through another service. You’ll then be eligible for a gift card of up to $100 (minimum $25). The accurate calculations guarantee sets in if the IRS and/or a state tax authority imposes penalties and/or interest due to a calculations error caused by Cash App Taxes. In that case, Cash App Taxes will reimburse you up to a max of $1,000 in gift cards.

If you don’t need expert tax advice and you’re looking for a 100% free tax software then Cash App Taxes may be the right choice for your personal situation. Cash App Taxes can be used on both your phone and computer but you’ll need to download the app on your phone first to create an account. Deposit your refund into Cash App and you may even get it up to 5 days early.

» MORE: Visit Cash App Taxes to get started or read our full Cash App Taxes review

TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer Logo

TaxSlayer has competitive pricing considering the features that they offer including fair pricing for gig economy workers and freelancers.

TaxSlayer starts off by offering a Simply Free version for simple tax situations (basic 1040, W-2 income, standard deduction) that’s free for both federal and state. Leveling up, there’s Classic that will essentially work for everyone who isn’t a business owner, but does not include access to a tax pro. You can file all IRS forms, credits and deductions with this option for $22.95 + $39.95 for state tax returns.

If you have tax questions with TaxSlayer, you’ll need to upgrade to Premium. This is everything you get in Classic plus access to ask a tax professional and live chat. Those filing with Premium even get to skip the line when it comes to phone and email support. The price is extremely reasonable given what other tax software companies charge for assistance from a tax professional at $42.95 for federal plus $39.95 for state. The biggest drawback is with audit assistance, which is offered for up to three years after your return is accepted. It is limited to consultation only and TaxSlayer does not offer full service audit assistance, not even for an additional fee.

TaxSlayer stands out by offering a Self-Employed version that offers extra 1099 & Schedule C support for only $52.95 (plus $39.95 for state). This is among the most competitive paid pricing for freelancers, those with a small business or those who need it for side-hustles. You get additional tax tips and support with this version plus everything that’s in Premium, including a tax expert who has knowledge about small business returns.

Other popular tax software

Our ranking for the top tax software options is pretty comprehensive with a range of pricing covering all tax situations. These are some other popular options to know about.

FreeTaxUSA

FreeTaxUSA Logo

FreeTaxUSA is another popular tax software that lets you anyone e-file federally for free. You can import your W-2s and do a a quick switch over if you’ve done your taxes with TurboTax or H&R Block.

All tax situations are included under Basic, Advanced, Premium, Self-Employed. Advanced, for instance, include home ownership and Earned Income Credit while Premium includes rental income and investments. Self-Employed works well for freelancers, contractors and small businesses. Deluxe Support (live chat, unlimited amendments, priority support) costs an additional $7.99 while Pro Support (personal tax advice, live screen share) costs an additional $39.99.

Jackson Hewitt Online

Jackson Hewitt offered one of the largest advances ($250-$6,500) on your tax refund with their Money Today Guarantee with no fees towards the beginning of tax season.

Known for in-person tax services with over 5,200 physical locations, the online services by Jackson Hewitt Online do not provide the best user experience as the top software options as a result. The price is low at $25 flat with a biggest refund guarantee (with state included) but it’s not among our most recommended tax software options for filing yourself online.

Liberty Tax

Liberty Tax Logo

Libery Tax – along with H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt – has a major advantage over purely online tax software plans. In addition to their tax software, they also have a very extensive network of tax preparation offices and tax professionals who can offer guidance in-person. You may have even seen their mascot if you’ve driven by a location during tax season.

Remote filing can be done via the Liberty Mobile app or uploading tax documents from your computer on the client portal. In-store guarantees include audit assistance, an accuracy guarantee and year-round support.

E-file

e-File Logo

E-file.com is a budget-friendly tax software that advertises itself as up to 50% less expensive than competitors. Federal e-filing ranges from free to $37.49 with coupon (normally $49.99) and there’s no free state option, even on the basic software.

Rather than using a question and answer style format similar to our tax software options, E-file does it more by the book with form numbers and IRS form names included in the tax filing process.

E-File was in the news for a security incident concerning malware in 2023. That was an isolated incident and had no impact on the security of the IRS e-file infrastructure or other online tax software options but it may be a cause for concern. Ultimately, E-file provides a step up over traditional paper forms but there’s better tax software options out there, even for the budget-friendly pricing on paid plans.

What is tax software?

Tax preparation software is an online, automated system for preparing individual and business income taxes. It’s used by both tax preparation businesses, like CPAs, and individual taxpayers who prefer to do their own returns.

It eliminates the need for the taxpayer to complete his or her return using actual forms. Instead, the tax preparer or the taxpayer simply inputs the necessary information into the software, which then compiles the tax return.

The software also does all the arithmetic involved, spots errors and lets you know is information is missing. Additional add-ons for online tax filing includes live tax professional advice from a tax support via methods that include screen sharing and live chat.

Easy tax software question-and-answer format

The software works on a simple question-and-answer basis. For example, it’ll start by asking you general information, such as your name, address, Social Security number, and dependent information. It will then ask for income information, such as wages, investment income, retirement income, or income from self-employment. From there, you’ll be asked to supply information about certain expenses that might be tax-deductible.

Once you fully input the information, the software is then able to compile your tax return. Since the software is online, it’s regularly updated with the latest tax changes, at both the federal and state levels. That saves the user hours of research.

Once the return has been compiled, the taxpayer can review it for accuracy. But the software will also perform an accuracy check to make sure no information has been overlooked.

Hassle-free filing with tax software

With good tax software, your job will be mostly to input your information. The software will do the work of compiling your return, checking for errors, then giving you an opportunity to both store and print your return. You will then be given the option to either print your return and file it by mail, or e-file online.

E-filing is another major plus with tax software. It can cut weeks off the time it takes to receive your refund.

Why should you use tax software?

There are two primary reasons for using tax preparation software:

  • Cost — If you have to pay a professional tax preparer, like a CPA, it can easily cost hundreds of dollars, or even thousands if your return is complicated. There’s tax software to file free online and most paid tax software plans for more complex situations can be purchased for less than $100. That’s just a fraction of what you would pay a CPA.
  • Speed — A good tax software can enable you to prepare your return in anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours, depending on how complicated the return is or the package you choose.

Over the years, tax software has become even faster. For example, most now enable you to import information from the previous year’s tax return or easily make a switch if you change tax software. These can save a considerable amount of time. Many are also able to import data from third-party sources, like employers and brokers for investment accounts. You won’t even need to manually input income information.

Another innovation has been the ability to snap pictures of documents you need to file taxes, like your W-2, using your mobile device, and uploading to tax software. The software will take the information from provided pictures, without you having to spend time typing the information in, saving valuable time and keystrokes.

Tax software vs tax preparer: How to choose

Whether you choose to use tax software or hiring a tax preparer will depend mostly on the complexity of your tax return and your own understanding of the tax preparation process. A tax preparer can typically save you time while a tax software is more likely to save you money on filing.

Why would you use a paid tax preparer?

  • You have little or no understanding of tax preparation and don’t feel comfortable doing it on your own.
  • Your have a very complicated tax situation, perhaps due to a business or a major live event like a divorce, and would be more comfortable with personalized advice.
  • You have an ongoing relationship with a professional preparer, particularly a CPA, and tax preparation is part of your service package.
  • Your tax situation is the type that may be highly likely to result in an IRS audit. You may prefer having a paid preparer involved in the process at every step to avoid that outcome, or to be represented by a tax preparer should it happen.

Why would you use tax preparation software?

  • Your tax situation is fairly simple and there’s no point paying for the services of a professional over going with a free tax software option.
  • You have a solid understanding of your tax situation and feel comfortable preparing your own return or doing so with live tax assistance.
  • You don’t feel comfortable doing your taxes on your own or being involved but feel comfortable using a full service online option that handles your taxes start to finish.
  • You don’t want to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars paying a professional.
  • You’re coming down to the tax deadline and tax preparers may be booked up. By using tax software, you’re free to file your return anytime you want up to the deadline.
  • You like being in charge of your own tax situation, which tax software makes very easy to do.
  • You’re expecting a big refund and you want it as soon as possible.

How do you pick the best tax software?

There are dozens of details with each individual tax software and the range of plans they offer, but here are some of the most important considerations for most taxpayers:

Start with price

Cost is typically the first consideration when deciding on tax preparation software. Based on our research, you can find software prices ranging from free up to a couple hundred dollars for a premium plan to handle a very complicated return. The end value of the service should line up accordingly with the features and plans being offered.

Make sure it’s relevant to your tax situation

This may be even more important than cost. In other words, will a particular tax software work for your tax situation? Do you have a simple tax return or a complex tax return?

As an example, if you have a very simple tax situation, you may need nothing more than a free service. The main thing you’ll be looking to do is to e-file, and even the free plans offer that ability. But if you’re self-employed and have significant investments, you’ll want to use a more comprehensive plan, specifically designed for those tax situations.

Consider level of support needed

Once again, if your tax situation is simple, this may not be that important. But if you have a complicated return, where the likelihood of being audited or receiving an IRS notice is high, or if you’re likely to have tax situations that will need a professional touch, strong customer support will be very important.

Some tax software, including a couple on our list, offer live tax assistance from tax professionals. That can even include CPAs. These are hybrid plans that offer you all the advantages of tax software, with professional assistance on an as-needed basis. Some plans let a tax expert do your taxes fully from start to end. Then many provide assistance or defense in the case of an IRS audit.

Take the level of support you’ll need to file your taxes into consideration when choosing the best tax software for you.

Pleasant user experience

Each tax software is a little bit different from the others. Some provide a very easy user experience, while others are cumbersome and require occasional workarounds. Some have a nice and clean interface while others are crowded with upsells or clunky buttons. Find a quality tax software you’re happy with when filing your taxes.

Worrying about your taxes is hard enough so an unpleasant user experience with certain tax software can make the whole process more difficult. You may have to try two or more tax software plans, say one this year and try another next year, before settling on the one you feel most confident about consistently for every tax season.

Summary

There’s a handful of top tax-prep software options that stand out from the crowd by offering various reasonably priced plans or free tax filing that help different taxpayers file.

We believe TurboTax to be the top overall option for tax software but finding the right tax software to file with in 2024 for your 2023 tax should start with your personal tax situation. Consider what you need, like whether you have self-employment income or investments, and what matters to you, such as affordability and/or a solid overall user experience. Then don’t forget to file before the deadline!


FAQs about filing with tax software

When are taxes due in 2024?

The deadline for most taxpayers to file federal and state income taxes is April 15, 2024. Certain taxpayers, like those who reside in Main and Massachusetts, have until April 17, 2024 to file because of holiday observance (Patriot’s Day and Emancipation Day). Those in federally declared disaster areas may have more time to file.

The deadline to file a tax extension is April 15, 2024, which then would move the deadline to file to October 15, 2024.

How do I file my tax return for free?

You can file for free online through an IRS Free File trusted partner that provides guided tax software if your adjusted gross income (AGI) was $79,000 or less. Some of these partners include free state e-filing in some states. You can also e-file federal tax forms for free using form instructions on the IRS’s website for any income level with no guidance and limited calculations. State tax preparation and filing is not offered for that option.

A number of our picks for the best software offer a free filing option for both federal and state taxes. TurboTax, for instance, offers a free edition for those who qualify.

Can I do my taxes on my phone?

Yes, many of the top software prep services let you do your entire tax return on your mobile device with tax service apps. Many mobile-friendly options allow you to take a photo of your W-2 directly with your phone, like Cash App Taxes, for easy import as well. You can switch between your phone and computer if needed to complete the filing your taxes.

Who are the IRS Free File partners?

THE IRS Free File Program partners for the 2024 tax season are TaxAct, 1040.com, FreeTaxUSA, 1040NOW.NET, Online Taxes at OLT.com, TaxSlayer, ezTaxReturn.com and FileYourTaxes.com

IRS Free File is a public-private partnership between the IRS and a nonprofit coalition of tax software companies called the Free File Alliance.

Is online tax software safe?

Yes, the best online tax-prep software options provide a safe way to file your federal and state taxes. TurboTax, for instance, encrypts data they store and uses industry standard TLS encryption when sending your return electronically to the IRS or state agencies. Multi-factor authentication provides a safeguard every time you sign in and email notifications notify you of changes to your account.

What’s the best tax software for Uber and Lyft drivers?

TaxSlayer offers competitive pricing with TaxSlayer Self-Employed that Uber and Lyft drivers can use to file their taxes. TurboTax Premium Online is another great option for gig workers that allows Uber and Lyft drivers to import income and expenses, walking taxpayers through the entire process of reporting income.

What’s a tax refund advance loan?

Tax refund advances are short-term loans offered by tax preparation services that are repaid through an upcoming IRS tax refund. These loans, applied for when filing your return, usually require you to have your taxes prepared by same service you’re seeking the loan from.

TurboTax, H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt are some tax prep services that may offer a tax refund advance under certain terms and eligibility.

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