This post will review the six best free tax preparation software in the US to help you choose the most appropriate for you or your business’s needs.
As an individual or business owner, choosing a good tax software program is crucial because it will help you fill your tax returns and benefit from the maximum tax refunds.
A good tax preparation software lets taxpayers check for errors and avoid being penalized if the IRS audits discover inaccurate tax declarations.
I will briefly review each of the six software, giving you their essential aspects, including the use of free and paid versions.
This article will end by recommending the tax filing software deemed the best by users to help you make the right choice.
What Is A Tax Preparation Sofware?
The idea behind Tax software is to assist taxpayers (individuals and businesses) in preparing and filing their annual income tax returns automatically online as required by the law.
Such platforms are easy to use even though there may be some learning at the beginning. They typically include key features, including organizers, the user step-by-step guides, calculators, etc.
The tax software I am about to reveal will save you manual declarations headaches, help you abide by the required rules and regulations, and save you time and money.
All you will need is to enter your tax information in the required forms and let the used tax software automatically calculate the total of tax refunds and the balance owed to the fisc.
The first thing you’ll notice when you visit the FreeTaxUSA homepage are the questions asking you the type of your tax situation (basic, simple, or advanced), but you can still use it for free to file your federal returns.
Most users of this software are not qualified for free returns elsewhere, need the best customer support, etc. You can get started for free and upgrade your account at any time when you feel the need to do so.
FreeTaxUSA may not be for you if you need some advice from an expert before filing your annual tax returns, want to report the income earned abroad, live in a country other than the USA, or are a nonresident alien.
Also, even though the name implies that this software is free, it is not totally the case.
You can only use it for e-file, federal tax returns, customer support, and a few other things. The owners will charge you $14.99 for state tax returns and $6.99 if you use the deluxe edition.
Upgrading your free account to the paid one will also entitle you to other benefits, including audit assistance, customer support by live chat, and unlimited amended returns.
TaxSlayer is the best alternative to TaxAct we will see later, depending on your annual tax reporting needs. It has an easy-to-use interface, doesn’t require much assistance, and allows to fill taxes at a low cost.
Whether you want to report W-2 income only or have complicated income, you will find appropriate solutions to your particular case.
All you need to get started is to sign up for a free account and answer a series of questions regarding your income for the tax year in question.
Ensure also to have at your disposal other important documents such as 1099s, 1098-Ts, W-2s, or any other receipt of income or expenses subject to deduction.
Once done, the system will calculate your refund and show you what to pay as tax due. You can also ask for support by email, phone, request assistance from a tax expert, IRS audit support, etc.
- Free for simple returns such as the student loan interest deduction, tuition fees deduction, W-2, and unemployment income.
- $24.95 for almost any tax situation with minimal guidance.
- $44.95 for the benefits of the previous plan plus access to customer support with tax professionals and IRS audit support for three years.
- $54.95 specifically for self-employed filers.
The information on its official website shows that for the fiscal year 2019, H&R Block has helped over 23 million individuals and businesses to prepare and file their tax returns, making it one of the best tax software in the US.
The people behind this platform say that their only motivation is to help as many US taxpayers as possible, whether in or outside the United States, to get tax help online or in person.
You can expect this platform to provide you with the following tax services:
- Advice from tax experts who know exactly how the tax system works and yearly training to ensure that you are up to date on the tax code.
- Find for you various possibilities to get the maximum deductions from your annual tax returns.
- Help you to receive refunds quickly, which can help you to keep running your business smoothly.
- More than 11 000 offices all across the US where you can leave your forms provided that they are in order.
- Experts to help you through the audit or CRA/RQ assessment process.
- Affordable death services to protect what matters most for you and your family.
- And many other services.
The H&R Block Pricing
Depending on the provided services, preparing and filing your tax return with H&R Block will cost you $0 to $239.98.
It will all depend on whether you have a few or multiple income streams, credits, and other deductions you qualify for.
Like much other similar software, TurboTax offers every taxpayer a free version to use for only simple tax returns, but you can not expect it to help you itemize deductions.
Instead, you can use this platform to file your state and federal income tax returns electronically.
A detailed guide will show you easy steps to use the system from beginning to end.
Ensure to provide all the required information to make this software work for you efficiently.
It will automatically perform automatic data entry, make the necessary calculations accurately, and help you to benefit from the tax refunds as quickly as possible.
However, if you plan to deduct mortgage or student loan interest, report income related to business, freelance, rental property, or report stock sales (1, 2, or 3 of Form 1040), this software may not be suitable for you.
It is also worth mentioning that Intuit, the parent company of TurboTax, has developed by Intuit, the parent company of Quickbook accounting software.
The TurboTax Cost
Filling your tax with TurboTax is not really free, contrary to some claims found online. The pricing structure is somehow complicated, but you can generally expect to pay between $0 to $345.
If you have many income streams, advanced tools and tax experts will check the credits you are qualified for, help you maximize the deductions, meaning that you will pay more money.
TaxAct offers the same services as H&R Block and TurboTax while being less expensive than both software.
You can use this tax preparation and filling platform as a business owner, sole entrepreneur, or tax professional.
It has free basic features and tools, but the owners will charge you a fair price to use advanced tools, including IRS and State forms.
Free Services – The free plan is for people and businesses who want to report W-2s or collected unemployment income, claim basic child tax credits, and those who have earned income tax credits (EITC), excluding credits related to childcare expenses.
Paid Services – This category includes a Deluxe package for filing various credit and deductions, a premier package designed for investment income, foreign bank accounts, and rental property.
You will also need to pay if you are self-employed because this category of taxpayers has its unique tax situation.
As for the pricing of these packages, Deluxe costs $44.95, Premier $69.95, and Self-Employed $79.95.
Located in Jersey City (New Jersey), Jackson Hewitt is another one of the best tax software to use in the United States.
The owners claim that it helps prepare more than two million local, state, and federal income tax returns per year.
We can name among its core services the possibility to file taxes in the office, yourself online, and using its pro tools.
There is also assistance to people and businesses who have some IRS issues and need to take quick action to resolve them before the situation worsens.
In addition to the tax services described above, Jackson Hewitt offers many others, but I don’t have too much time to detail them in such a short review.
The costs vary depending on the services offered; you can expect to pay $25 for federal filing and $49 for state and federal filings.
Tips To Choose The Wright Tax Software
There are many criteria to consider when choosing the right tax software, including:
Free vs. Paid Tax Software
You can opt for a free version of your tax returns is basic, and most of the software described in this review has both free and paid plans to satisfy everyone’s needs.
When your business grows over time, your fiscal situation can become more complex and require some expertise, meaning that you will upgrade to a paid version.
Online VS Desktop Tax Software
The end objective of both online and desktop tax software is the same, but they differ in friendliness.
Some people feel comfortable when using their computers, while others like to switch between devices online.
It will be up to you to see if you want a tax software that you can install on your computer or if the one accessible online from any device is the most convenient.
However, the second option will require you always to remember your login credentials.
State Tax Returns
It is also essential for you to know, from the beginning, if the price to use a given tax software includes “the state return” or if the owners will charge you an additional fee to use this feature.
For example, when you decide to move from your current state and locate another during the same fiscal year, you will need two separate state tax returns.
If you were using software with a free state return, it would not be the same because such a version is limited to just one state. You will pay for the second state’s tax return.
Tax Deductions Organizer
It is also wise for you to check if the software you want to use has “the tax interview” feature whose purpose is to explain the process to complete a return correctly.
As you go through the process to itemize deductions, your software should ask you as many questions as possible to dig up all the possible deductions and help you maximize the tax refunds.
Guarantee and Support
I will not stress enough about both criteria because you already know how important they are.
The best advice is to ensure that the supplier guarantees the accuracy of his product or software.
You must also get the needed support if you have some questions about using given tax software.
Both guarantee and support will typically be available when you use a paid plan.
These are the most crucial factors to consider, but they are not the only ones.
Do not worry because all the recommended platforms have all you need; all you need is to pick one and enjoy the benefits it will provide you.
The Final Words
This is the end of this artcle about the best free tax preparation software in the US, and I hope it will be handy for you.
The six tax preparation platforms reviewed are among the most used and will provide you with the maximum benefits of your tax returns.
They also have free and paid versions tailored to the needs of every individual and business.
I particularly recommend you to use either TaxAct or Taxslayer because they feature all the tools you need, offer other assistance at great prices, and have the best customer support.
However, the choice is yours; you can choose any other tax software you want, whether listed in this post or not.
Thank you for reading this article; feel free to leave a comment or ask questions at the bottom of this page. I will reply quickly.