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Tax season is in full swing, and using a tax software to help you file can save you time and money.
If you decide to do your own taxes, you’ll want to choose tax software that is easy to use, affordable and suits your needs. We analyzed and reviewed the top providers to help you find the best tax software for this tax-filing season.
Many of our tax software picks offer both free and paid plans that allow you to file your taxes fast and accurately while ensuring you get all the credits and deductions you deserve — whether you’re a single filer with a basic W-2 form, married with student loan debt, an investor who collected investment income or an entrepreneur with business income.
Bankrate’s picks for best tax software
Best tax software overall: H&R Block
Best tax software for beginners: TurboTax by Inuit
Best free tax software: Cash App Taxes
Best tax software for freelancers: TaxSlayer
Best tax software for complex returns: Jackson Hewitt Online
Slightly lower pricing than other top tax software
Online assistance or in-person help
H&R Block is one of the most established names in do-it-yourself tax preparation. It’s comprehensive yet simple enough to handle all types of tax-filing profiles, from small business owners to beginner filers to individuals with non-standard tax deductions.
H&R Block beats its competitors when it comes to live support. You’ll have many options for help if you’re stuck, such as phone support, its online tax information center or live chat. You can also pay an extra fee to speak with a certified tax professional through live video chat for help and to review your tax return before you submit it. Its prices are higher than many other tax prep providers on our list, but peace of mind could be worth the additional cost if your taxes are even slightly complicated.
H&R Block offers online software prices lower than TurboTax but still higher than other popular competitors on our list. You have four plans to choose from: free, deluxe, premium and self-employed, which range from $0 to $85. All of its tax prep plans charge $37 to file a state return, except for its free online tax-filing plan, which includes simple federal and state tax returns. Its $35 deluxe plan is one of the best on the market because it’s cheaper than other competitors and covers all your tax basics, health savings account contributions, child and dependent care expenses and some itemized deductions. If you have crypto transactions, rental income, earned self-employment or business income, you’ll need to pay more for one of H&R Block’s premium services.
Option to file in-person or online
Plenty of support features and add-ons for all types of filers
Transparent upfront pricing through its No Surprise Guarantee
If you don’t know the difference between a W-2, Form 1040 and a 1099, TurboTax offers a tax software platform that guides you from start to finish — ensuring you’re not missing any important sections as you go.
You can file your taxes online by yourself or get expert advice as you do your taxes, making it our top pick for beginners. While you can’t get in-person support for an online tax return, you can take advantage of its online live assisted add-on to have a tax expert help you and review your return before filing. You can also upgrade to its full service products and let a tax expert do your taxes for you. It’s one of the most expensive tax software providers on the market, especially if you have complex taxes, but for good reason. Its easy-to-use platform and tax expertise eliminate any worries about filing your tax return incorrectly.
TurboTax has a well-designed, interview-style platform that explains concepts as you go. You can keep track of where you are in the filing process while visiting help screens and FAQs. You can also auto-import many popular tax forms, including a PDF or photo of your previous year’s return, your W-2 and many types of 1099s. And if you use Quickbooks software, TurboTax can be integrated for a seamless tax-filing experience.
The tax prep company offers four different packages: basic, deluxe, premier and self-employed. These range from $0 to $409, plus the cost of filing your state return. Filing a state return costs up to $64 per state. The deluxe version, which is its most popular package, makes sense if you plan to itemize your deductions, have child or dependent care expenses, contribute to a health savings account or report types of income that aren’t listed on your Form 1040. If income from your employer is the extent of your finances, and you don’t have self-employment, complex investment or rental income to report, the free basic package may better cover your needs.
Comprehensive, easy-to-use interface
Helpful tools and add-ons through the process
Upload your W-2, 1099s and other tax documents
Import up to 10,000 stock transactions and up to 20,000 crypto transactions with TurboTax Premier
Cash App Taxes is a straightforward tax software that’s entirely free for federal and state returns. Unlike other tax software offerings, this provider won’t try to upsell you with more expensive plans or charge you hidden fees. Even though you can e-file your tax returns for free, the interface and functionality of Cash App Taxes is seamless and robust.
Its biggest pitfall is that it doesn’t include the extensive help and support of industry tax software leaders like TurboTax and H&R Block. Cash App Taxes doesn’t have tax assistance support, and tax help content is limited. Cash App Taxes also can’t accommodate all tax situations. For example, you can’t use the platform if you need to file multiple state returns, have foreign income, or you’re filing separately as a married person in community property states.
For these reasons, you should only opt for Cash App Taxes if you don’t need much hand-holding through the filing process and have simple taxes, such as a single source of income from an employer.
Cash App Taxes is one of few tax software that allows you to file your federal and state returns at no cost. Despite being free, it doesn’t skimp on all the extras that make tax filing easier. You can access almost every IRS form and schedule, whether you have freelance income, crypto transactions or retirement distributions. It also comes with free audit defense, accuracy and maximum refund guarantees — a feature you’ll pay for with many other tax filing options.
Freelancers have special tax requirements to meet, such as self-employment taxes — and a whole lot of tax deductions. Some of the best tax software on this list have self-employed or freelance plans, but Taxslayer provides the best value for the price.
With TaxSlayer, you’ll be able to enter all your deductions and review them with optional added support at no extra cost. Another freelancer-friendly feature is reminders for quarterly estimated tax payments to avoid unnecessary fees. Best of all, TaxSlayer has a 100 percent money-back guarantee if there are errors on your tax return due to a calculation error on a form prepared using the software.
TaxSlayer offers four tax prep plans — free, classic, premium and self-employed — but the latter stands out for freelancers. TaxSlayer’s self-employed package provides guidance on 1099 income, business expense deductions and support from a tax professional with self-employment expertise at a fraction of the price compared to competitors. With all your necessary tax forms, you can file your federal return for as little as $50 and your state return for another $40.
More affordable option for freelancers or self-employed filers
Tax payment reminders
Mobile app available
Can’t import or upload tax documents like you can in TurboTax and H&R Block
Must purchase either the premium or self-employed package to get assistance from a tax expert
Some tax circumstances call for more than a simple guided software platform. Owning multiple businesses or having to file returns that include capital gains from investments and real estate income are just a couple of examples.
Jackson Hewitt’s online software provides a number of tools such as calculators to determine depreciation, earned income tax credits and other complex calculations. You can also download your W-2 and employer information to ensure accuracy. Once you’re done, you can drop off the completed filing at one of the nearly 6,000 locations (many are in Walmart) so a tax professional can review it before you file for free.
Jackson Hewitt provides a lifetime accuracy guarantee — you’ll be reimbursed for any liabilities the tax professional missed. In addition, a Jackson Hewitt tax specialist will handle your case on your behalf if you get audited.
Jackson Hewitt allows you to file for one price, no matter how complicated your taxes are. You’ll spend no more than $25 to file your federal tax return, and your state tax return is free of charge. Plus, you can file as many state tax returns as needed. At a low price, you’ll get simple, step-by-step instructions to file, free live chat support, robust security features to protect your data and built-in automatic error-checking.
Full Service: Basic, Deluxe, Premier and Self-Employed
$0 to $129*
$99 to $219 for TurboTax Live*
$219 to $409 for TurboTax Live Support*
up to $64*
Cash App Taxes
Best free tax software
Best for freelancers
$0 to $64.95
Jackson Hewitt Online
Best for complex returns
Drop off and go
*Prices may change if you need additional online support.
What to consider when choosing tax preparation software
When comparing tax software, tax experts say you’ll want to consider cost, ease of use, access to tax expertise and tax form availability.
Look at your budget and figure out a number you feel comfortable spending on your taxes to help narrow down your options. If you’re a W-2 employee with a simple tax return, you can likely file for free or with the lowest-level plans from TurboTax, H&R Block or any of the other choices on our list. You can also file for free through the IRS Free File program if your 2022 adjusted gross income is below $73,000. Some of the providers also offer free state returns.
If your taxes are a little more complicated, you may want to compare the premium packages for the best fit and spend a little more for peace of mind. For example, if self-employment income is your concern, TaxSlayer offers one of the lowest-cost options on the market. But if you don’t need much help navigating your taxes and know which deductions to claim, Cash App Taxes might suit your needs.
Of course, cost isn’t the only factor that matters. Depending on your level of tax expertise, you may also consider how user-friendly the tax software is. If you need more guidance, compare features that make the process easier and faster, such as the ability to import tax forms. It may help if you also weigh the customer support options, such as live chat, email, searchable FAQs and phone support. If your taxes are complicated, it can be worth using tax software with access to tax professionals if you have a question or need more assistance.
The availability of tax forms is another important factor to consider when choosing tax software. Go with a provider that offers all the necessary tax forms and schedules. For example, TurboTax’s free filing option lets you claim certain tax credits — such as the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Child Tax Credit — but TaxSlayer does not.
Important tax dates in 2023
As you prepare to file your 2022 taxes, here are some important dates to mark on your calendar:
Jan. 23: First day you can file 2022 tax returns
Jan. 31: Deadline for employers to send Form W-2, Deadline for companies to send various 1099 forms (1099-NEC, 1099-MISC and 1099-K).
Feb. 15: Form W-4 “exempt” status expires. Last day to update form W-2 to maintain exempt status.
April 3: Required minimum distribution due if you turned 72 in 2022
April 18: Last day to file your 2022 tax return (unless extended due to local state holiday), request an extension, make IRA and HSA contributions and pay taxes owed. First quarter 2023 estimated tax payment due.
June 15: Second quarter 2023 estimated tax payment due
Sept. 15: Third quarter 2023 estimated tax payment due
Oct. 16: Due date to file your tax return if you requested an extension
Bankrate began its analysis of the best tax software for 2023 by looking at 10 popular online tax software providers: TurboTax, H&R Block, Cash App Taxes, eFile.com, FileYourTaxes.com, ezTaxReturn, FreeTaxUSA, Jackson Hewitt, TaxSlayer and TaxAct.
We focused on online tax software companies that provide free tax preparation for simple federal and state tax returns to narrow down the list. That’s because an estimated 70 percent of Americans are eligible to file their taxes for free, according to the IRS. Jackson Hewitt was the exception to this because it offers affordable, flat-fee pricing to file federal and state taxes online — even if you have a complex tax situation.
We also spoke to tax experts to help inform the factors we should consider when evaluating tax software. Cost, user experience, access to tax expertise and ease of use were recurring themes throughout our conversations, so we prioritized those factors during our analysis. We excluded tax software with paid plans that cost more than $200 because it costs the average taxpayer around $220 to file their taxes, according to a 2021 estimate from the National Society of Accountants. Our analysis also included a thorough review of each software’s customer support channels. We determined that an online tax software provider must provide at least two customer service channels for support or questions — whether by phone, live chat or email — to be included on the list.
Our best tax software companies include access to a broad selection of tax filing forms and an accuracy guarantee, which reimburses you for any IRS penalties or interest if the software causes an error on your return. They all offer access to expert tax assistance, except Cash App Taxes, which primarily stands out for its free filing service for federal and state tax returns. Some of the tax software programs offer access to tax experts for free, while some offer expertise at an additional cost.