The 7 Best Tax Preparation Software Applications

best tax software

Filing your taxes can be stressful. But with the right program and e-filing, the process can be much simpler and you can ensure you get your maximum refund. In fact, 80 percent of taxpayers file their taxes online. Below, find the seven best tax software applications that can help streamline tax season:

1. TurboTax

For over 25 years, TurboTax products have been the top best-selling tax filing software. And it’s easy to see why. The company guarantees that its calculations are completely accurate and they run error checks to catch any mistakes before you file.

If the IRS does charge you a penalty or fee because of a calculation mistake by TurboTax, they’ll reimburse you for the error.

The software is easy to use, with a simple, question-based interface that walks you through the process. If you find yourself unsure how to proceed, TurboTax also offers expert help live, right on your screen. You also get your refund quickly and how you want it, whether that’s by direct deposit, check, or prepaid Visa card.

While a simple 1040EZ or 1040A federal return is free, if your taxes include deductions, tax credits, side hustle income, or investments, the free version will not be enough. You will need to upgrade to another version; the option for anyone with side gig or freelance income is $89.99, plus an additional cost to file your state taxes.

2. H&R Block

H&R Block offers in-person office preparation or you can file your taxes yourself through their online platform. You can also download their software and file your taxes that way.

The company has been in business for over 60 years, guarantees 100 percent accuracy and promises to get you your maximum refund.

H&R Block’s e-filing program is cheaper than some other options. Like TurboTax, they offer free federal and state filing for basic federal and state returns. But if you have more complicated taxes, such as itemizable deductions or small business expenses, you need to upgrade to the deluxe or premium option.

The deluxe option, which H&R Block designed for investors and small business owners, is $54.99, plus an additional fee to file your state taxes.

3. eSmartTax

If you make under $64,000, are between the ages of 18 and 54, or are in the military on active duty, you can file your taxes for free with eSmartTax. Those who do not qualify can use basic, deluxe, or premium versions, starting at just $14.95.

Backed by Liberty Tax, eSmartTax offers affordable federal and state filing options. Federal returns can be completed in as little as ten minutes.

The company backs all of its calculations with a guarantee, so you can have peace of mind that your taxes are accurate.

4. ezTaxReturn

ezTaxReturn has been around since 1999 and is designed to make taxes easy and affordable for the average American. The company is one of just a few IRS-authorized e-file providers. And you can try the program without any fee or commitment until you’re ready to file.

Unlike other tax filing software, with ezTaxReturn, you don’t have to know all of the forms you have or what type of expenses you have before you start. The software walks you through every stage of the process and you are never forced to upgrade to a different version just to get access to deductions or credits.

You can file both your federal and state return with ezTaxReturn for just $39.95.

5. TaxAct

TaxAct offers a robust e-filing platform at a fraction of the cost of other sites. The top tier version, the premium filing service, is for freelancers and small business owners and costs just $37, plus an additional fee to file your state return. There is a free version for basic tax situations as well.

TaxAct also offers a price lock guarantee. The price listed when you create your return is the price you pay, regardless of when you actually file your taxes. That policy is a big change from other programs, which charge higher fees closer to the tax deadline.

They also offer unlimited phone support, so if you’re stuck or are unsure of what to do, you can get help from trained professionals.

6. Credit Karma

In January, Credit Karma launched its new tax service, which is completely free to use and file, regardless of your household income.

The online tool is self-directed and users can file both their federal and state returns without any cost. Preparing your taxes and filing your returns can be expensive; Credit Karma’s new platform allows you to get your full refund without spending any money. And the online tool is easy to use, with step-by-step prompts and questions to help you through the process.

But the tool may not be for everyone, at least this year. Credit Karma does not yet support filing multiple state returns, part-year state filings, or state filings without a federal return. However, if you have a straightforward situation, Credit Karma’s service can be an excellent resource for you.

7. MyFreeTaxes

If you make under $64,000, you can file your taxes for free with MyFreeTaxes.com, a service offered by United Way. It’s secure and easy to use, with simple questions and prompts to guide you through the process.

And unlike others on our best tax software list, MyFreeTaxes allows you to file up to three state returns for free. That can save you hundreds of dollars in fees.

MyFreeTaxes also offers comprehensive support. If you have questions, you can call the MyFreeTaxes Helpline at 1-855-MY-TX-HELP, and an IRS-certified operator will assist you.

Filing your taxes

Preparing your taxes can be stressful and expensive. But with these programs, you can get top support at a reasonable price–or even get your taxes done for free.

For more information on how to manage your taxes, check out this article on how to boost your 2016 taxes before you file.

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