Nearly half of all Americans will file their taxes online this year, and that number is only going up. Many people are filing online for the first time, and if this is you, you’re not alone. Between 2019 and 2020, e-filing rates increased by 5.9%. And it only got bigger from there.
Tax softwares have been exploding in popularity. From the ease of filing from your couch to the cost-effective free plans available to most people, it’s a no-brainer to file online. There’s still one big problem with tax software, though.
How do you find the best tax software?
Choosing a tax software is an important decision since it can make the difference between a fast, easy return and dealing with a time-consuming IRS audit. That’s why we’re doing a deep dive on the best options to help you get your taxes done on your terms.
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How to Choose the Best Tax Software for You
There are tax prep softwares everywhere this time of year. They range from well-known to totally obscure. When you dive down internet rabbit holes to find the best tax software, you end up on finance sites that may or may not even have anything to do with taxes.
The more specific you are on the hunt for the perfect software, the harder it gets to find one that checks all the boxes. Complicated returns that include things like self-employed income or multiple state returns make it even harder to find help.
Upgrades, packages, features… Just making a choice can be overwhelming.
Worst of all, most people aren’t all that familiar with filing taxes. After all, you only do it once a year. So how do you know what to look for in the best tax software?
Well, there are three main considerations when choosing a tax software that works for you.
- What kind of help will I get?
- How many forms can I file?
- What will it actually cost?
Let’s look at these in more depth, and then we can get into rating our 20 picks of ‘22.
#1: What Kind of Help Will I Get?
This is an important question. Since many people aren’t familiar with the process or laws involved in filing taxes, the amount of help you get can make or break your experience.
Some people already have a basic understanding or are comfortable doing lots of research when necessary. These people will get along just fine using software that has little help and no in-person assistance.
Meanwhile, people new to filing taxes or people who want to save time on the process have different needs. The best tax software for these folks is one that will offer them a large library to help with questions or a plan with one-to-one assistance from an expert.
#2: How Many Forms Can I File?
This question is critical for people with complex tax situations. However, this category is still worth looking at if you have a simple return.
Most people will file at least two forms. One for your federal return and one for your state return. If you have any investments, own property, or made large donations to charity, you’ll have more. And if you have a “side hustle” or work multiple jobs, that means more forms.
Most “free” tax softwares are only free for the first form, and charge fees for your state return, alternate income, and some deductions. When trying to choose the best tax software, make sure you aren’t going to miss a key form.
#3: How Much Will It Really Cost?
The limit on how many forms you can file leads perfectly into the third thing to look for. How much can you actually expect to spend?
Most tax software advertises itself as being “free to file”, but that’s usually not quite true. And that’s ok! Even when upgrading to a plan, you can still save compared to filing with an in-person tax preparer.
However, if you want to find the very best tax software for you, you’ll need to know what your specific situation will cost. This will help you shop around, so you don’t end up paying extra for a plan you don’t need.
Best Tax Software Plans for Individuals
Let’s start with our ten best tax software picks for individuals. Filing as an individual can be as simple or complex as you’d like. Tax softwares will all walk you through the deductions you can get, but you don’t have to claim all of them.
A word of warning, though – skipping tax deductions may save you time, but it means a smaller return.
There are also some deductions you have to prepare in advance for. For example, you can claim a deduction for your drive to and from work, but only if you know how many miles the drive has put on your car. As you wrap up this tax season, consider asking your tax expert about prepping for other qualifying deductions.
The best tax software will keep things simple for you, so it’s worth doing a bit of research to make sure you don’t miss anything obvious. For example, some home repairs are tax-deductible, but not all tax software will ask about them.
A little research ahead of time could make a big difference in your tax return in 2023. In this article, you’ll see the help, form limit, and costs of different tax software, but these should only let you know which software to look into further.
Once you have a few in mind, shop around! Make sure you’re working with the best tax software for your situation.
1. H&R Block – Free Edition
Tax giant H&R Block has been a household name in taxes for more than 50 years, so it’s no surprise they’re our very first pick for best tax software. With their average tax pro having around a decade of experience, they’re perfect for people looking for help and trying to transition to doing their taxes online.
Best for: People who are new to filing taxes online and want lots of guidance.
|Help available||No in-person, large library|
|Form Limit||1 Federal, multiple state|
2. TurboTax – Free Edition
A close second to H&R Block, TurboTax really made a name for themselves as the best tax software for people new to filing taxes. They feature dozens of help articles, a supportive online community of more than 3 million members, and on-demand help with their paid plans.
Best for: Anyone who is familiar with the internet, but could use some tax guidance now and again.
|Help available||No in-person, large library + online community|
|Form Limit||1 Federal, 1 state|
3. Cash App Taxes
Formerly Credit Karma Tax, this service is TurboTax’s younger, free-er cousin. With Cash App Taxes, you can file totally free – they won’t even upsell you, since they don’t have any paid plans. People who are stressed by upsells and want to file on the go will find that Cash App Taxes is the best tax software for taking that anxiety away.
Best for: People who want to file from their phone and are confident flying solo.
|Help available||No in-person, no library|
|Form Limit||None, even if you’re filing for several deductions|
4. Free Tax USA
Most articles that review the best tax software focus on the few big companies out there. While the expert support with something like TurboTax or H&R Block is great, the cost for that support can be pricey.
That’s why we included Free Tax USA on our list. This software allows you to file your federal returns for free, no matter what your tax situation is. Their free edition covers a variety of tax situations, and their comprehensive paid version is one of the best on this list.
Best for: People looking to spend as little as possible while still getting access to live help.
|Free Edition||Deluxe Edition|
|Help available||No in-person, no library||Live tax support|
|Form Limit||None, even if you’re filing for several deductions||None|
|Final Cost||$0 federal, $14.99 for state||$6.99 to upgrade + $14.99 for state filing = $21.98|
As they say on their website, “Bigger isn’t better when it comes to your taxes”. We agree, which is why ezTaxReturn found a place on our list of best tax software.
As a small, tax-only company, they’re dedicated to a straightforward process. That means they give up-front pricing and won’t try to upsell you. While their free version is pretty limited, any paid edition offers “no-wait-on-hold” phone support.
Best for: people who want to get their taxes taken care of as quickly as possible with no upsells.
|Free Edition||Deluxe Edition|
|Help available||None unless you also file a state return||Phone support staff will call you at a convenient time for you, questions can also be submitted in writing|
|Form Limit||1 federal||None|
|Final Cost||$0 for federal, $19.95 for state||$39.95 for federal and state|
We’ll say this upfront: 1040.com isn’t for you if you’re looking for something free, and it’s worth it.
As you’ve already seen, most “free” tax software isn’t really free and the final cost can catch you totally off-guard. 1040.com is one of the best tax software options because they fix that. They don’t offer a free return at all. Instead, everyone pays the same flat rate to file both federal and state returns.
This means that no matter how simple or complex your return is, you’ll pay just $25 total. Talk about a steal! Best of all, 1040.com partners with several charities, so you’ll be giving back just by filing taxes.
Best for: People who want to give back while filing a no-frills tax return.
|Help available||No live help, but an extensive library|
7. Jackson Hewitt
Best known for their pop-ups in grocery stores and malls, Jackson Hewitt has been helping Americans file taxes for nearly half a century. They’ve kept up with the changes in filing taxes and now offer two online options.
With Jackson Hewitt, you can file alone or with a tax expert. When you file alone, you still have access to live customer support and their 100% satisfaction guarantee. They’ll refund anyone who isn’t completely satisfied with their experience.
Filing with a tax expert online is a hands-off process. You give them the info they need and they take care of the rest. No matter how complicated your return is, you’ll pay one flat fee. The simplicity of Jackson Hewitt makes them a top contender for best tax software.
Best for: People who want a lot of guidance without complicated pricing guides.
|File Alone||File with a Tax Expert|
|Help available||None||Live support allows you to take a hands-off approach|
|Final Cost||$25 to file both federal and state||$99|
One of the fastest-growing tax softwares on the market, Tax Hawk makes filing your taxes a smooth, streamlined process with a thoughtful design and excellent service.
Their customers give a 4.8-star overall rating, and they assist unhappy customers across the board. No matter what your situation is, TaxHawk wants to help. They have three options for their users to choose from, so you can pick the best tax software help for your situation.
Best for: Bargain-hunters who like lots of options
|Free Edition||Deluxe Edition||Pro Support|
|Help available||None||Live chat||Phone and screen-share support|
|Form Limit||1 Federal||None||None|
|Final Cost||$0 for federal, $14.99||$6.99||$24.99|
9. IRS Free File
That’s right, you can file your taxes directly with the IRS. The IRS has partnered with the best tax software’s on the market to provide free filing to qualifying taxpayers. This includes the forms you need to file, live help, and refund tracking.
The site can be difficult to navigate, but if you qualify you can file your federal (and some state) returns completely free.
Best for: People who don’t mind putting in some time to file for free.
|Help available||Varies by eligibility|
|Final Cost||$0 for federal, $0 for some states|
Last on our list of best tax software is Quicken. Quicken does more than just help you prepare for taxes. It’s an all-in-one financial software that can help you with budgeting, investing, saving, and even paying bills.
At the end of the year, Quicken gives you a print-out with your financial information from the whole year. While you can’t directly file with Quicken, it makes filing on your own much easier. More importantly, it helps you take back control of your finances and grow your wealth.
Best for: People who know that taxes are just a piece of the personal-finance puzzle.
|Deluxe Edition||Premier Edition|
|Help available||Large online community and blog library||Large online community and blog library|
Best Tax Software for Freelancers & Small Businesses
Now we’ll be looking at the best tax software for freelancers and small businesses. These situations can make taxes more complex, so it’s important to have a tax software you can rely on.
When freelancing or running a small business, there are other things to take into consideration when doing your taxes. Whether you’re filing as a freelancer, small business, or individual, the hardest part of doing taxes is the prep. When you freelance or run a business, there are more steps to preparing for your taxes.
The best tax software will give you year-round access to help you stay on top of the prep. When you have that extra bookkeeping help directly from your tax filing system, you can track your business’s expenses and income.
Tracking expenses and income can do two huge things when it comes time to file taxes. First, it can help you get a bigger return. Secondly, good record-keeping can prevent you from being audited and can make the process run more smoothly if you do.
The final thing to take into consideration when searching for the best tax software for your small business is quarterly payments. Some freelancers and small businesses prefer to make quarterly tax payments instead of paying all at once at the end of the year.
Some tax softwares will send reminders or process the quarterly payments for you. If this is something you prefer, check with your tax software choices to see how they handle it.
And again, don’t be afraid to shop around! Your business is important to you, and you deserve to feel confident and included in the process of filing taxes for it.
When it comes to complex tax situations, you can feel taken advantage of. Many companies present you with two options: pay a little and fly totally solo, or pay a lot and get the help you need.
TaxSlayer is different. Their self-employed package is one of the best tax software options on the market because it has everything you need for one price. All the forms, access to a tax expert, and even quarterly tax reminders.
They’ll guide you through the process from start to finish. The normal stress of filing taxes as a business owner or freelancer just melts away!
Best for: People looking for an all-in-one solution at a flat price.
|Help available||Live chat, phone, and email support|
|Final Cost||$54.95 federal + $39.95 state|
Choosing a tax software is something you do every year. With all the options on the market, it’s no surprise most people don’t pick the best tax software for them on the first try. That’s why TaxAct lets you upload your forms from last year, even if you used another software.
Once you upload the basics, TaxAct’s huge library and expert tax help can guide you through the rest. Their beloved “bookmark” feature lets you mark places on your return that you need to come back to later, so you’ll never forget a form.
Best for: People looking to change providers for something with more guidance.
|Help available||Live chat, email, and phone support; enormous blog library and supportive online community|
|Final Cost||$79.95 federal + $54.95 state|
eFile’s tagline is “It’s less taxing”, and it’s easy to see why. As soon as you click onto their website, you’ll see dozens of resources designed to help you navigate your taxes.
eFile.com answers questions like “which forms will I need?”, “what are my deadlines again?”, and more using helpful tools, sound bites, and videos. If you’re someone who likes to know the ins and outs of their business finances, this is the best tax software for you.
Best for: People who want to learn more about filing taxes, and start filing on their own more confidently.
|Help available||Real person support, but not in real-time|
|Final Cost||$35 federal + $28 state|
Owners of mid-size small businesses simply don’t have the time or know-how to file taxes themselves. As your business grows, DIY becomes Don’t-IY.
That’s where Taxfyle comes in. With a lower cost than a general CPA firm and personalized help, Taxfyle is a life-saver. Owners of small- to mid-sized businesses who need to have a professional do their taxes will find Taxfyle is the best tax software they could ask for.
Best for: People who don’t want to DIY their taxes.
|Help available||A CPA or EA files your return||A CPA or EA files your return|
|Final Cost||$204.99 federal + $39.99 state||$359.99 federal + 49.99 state|
5. TurboTax – Self-employed and Small Business
There really is a reason TurboTax is so popular. Their user-friendly interface and prompt response times make them shine. When it comes to finding the best tax software for your small business, they’re worth a look!
The free plan is helpful for individuals, and their small business plans allow you to file all the forms you need with no hassle and lots of help.
Best for: People who are filing taxes for their small business/freelance income for the first time.
|Help available||Live chat help, blog library, online community||Live video help, screen sharing|
|Final Cost||$119 federal + $49 state||$199 federal + $54 state|
6. H&R Block – Self-employed and Small Business
Savvy business owners know that tax season comes once a year, but you need to be thinking about taxes all year-round. That’s why H&R Block’s best tax software for self-employed and small businesses gives you access to tax experts no matter what time of year it is.
H&R Block’s tax representatives for this package go through specialized training to help small businesses. They know all the ins and outs of federal and state tax prep, and you can even choose to have H&R Block do your bookkeeping and give you a business consultation.
Best for: People who want all their tax prep taken care of year-round.
|DIY||File with a Tax Pro|
|Help available||Unlimited, on-demand chat help||Virtual or in-person meetings, no DIY needed|
|Final Cost||Starts at $100, varies by situation||Starts at $180, varies by situation|
Speaking of year-round help, that’s what Pilot specializes in. Pilot is the all-in-one financial solution for small and mid-sized businesses.
They take care of bookkeeping, taxes, invoicing, and more for your growing business. Without a doubt, their wide suite of products makes them much more than one of the best tax software options – they’re one of the best financial software options.
Their tax team can file your business and personal taxes, giving you live updates along the way. Their tax plans are priced separately from their accounting services, meaning that you can start working with them on accounting before deciding whether you want them to file taxes.
Best for: Fast-growing businesses who need tax and accounting help, and quick!
|Help available||No DIY needed! You have a dedicated tax expert||No DIY needed! You have a dedicated tax expert|
|Form Limit||10 1099-NEC included||25 1099-NEC included|
|Final Cost||$1,950/year||Custom, beginning at $4,950/year|
When most people think of taxes, they think of filing tax returns. The best tax software for small businesses also takes care of your sales tax compliance. That’s where Avalara comes in.
Avalara can help you file taxes, but tax compliance is where they really shine. Whether you’re a small business, a mid-size business, or somewhere in-between, Avalara helps you stay on top of tax laws. They managed $19 billion in goods during the 2019 cyber week, and have helped users achieve more than $18 billion in tax returns.
Best for: People looking for more comprehensive tax software for their business.
|Returns for Small Business|
|Help available||24/7 support and large video course library|
|Final Cost||$19 per month plus $25 per optional e-filing, with up to 60-day free trial|
9. Bonsai Tax
This one’s for the freelancers. Bonsai is dedicated to helping freelancers manage every part of their career, from contracts to invoicing and, that’s right, taxes. While Bonsai is more of a “tax prep” software, the best tax software won’t just file, it’ll help you with the hardest part – preparation.
Best for: Freelancers looking for help tracking their taxes, expenses, and clients throughout the year.
|Help available||No live option, but large library of tax help|
|Final Cost||$39 monthly|
Our very last pick for best tax software is a software that helps with your tax prep and filing. Mazuma exists to help small businesses achieve the financial help that’s often out of their reach. Large firms can often be out of budget, while smaller companies don’t offer one-on-one support.
Mazuma strives to be within your budget and offer live help with your small business’s accounting and taxes.
|Help available||Live help||Live help|
|Form Limit||None, but has less year-round tax help||None, and will handle your business and personal return|
Pain-Free Ways to File Taxes in 2023
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – gathering information is the hardest part of filing your taxes. This is just as true of picking a tax software as it is of anything else.
The good news is that by doing the research and picking the best tax software for your situation, you’re already done with a big part of it! Once you find a tax software that works for you, it’s a huge chunk of work off your plate for next year.
Filing your taxes next year won’t be as hard as this year. The more time you spend getting to know your money and your taxes, the less intimidating it’ll be. Many of the best tax software companies have a newsletter you can subscribe to so you can keep growing your knowledge.
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to something as elusive as taxes. Just by doing this research, you’re miles ahead of the roughly 7 million people who don’t file taxes at all. Filing a tax return can be an enormous boost to your financial security.
Many people find that their tax return can help them pay down debts, make important purchases, or bolster their savings account. These things are all crucial to financial wellness, which makes filing your tax return using the best tax software a jumpstart on your financial journey.
The best tax software will help you file your taxes and open the door to so much more. Here at Penny Calling Penny, our tax articles are only a part of our growing library. We’re dedicated to helping you learn to manage your money, no matter where you’re at on your financial journey. Subscribe to our newsletter so you never miss a Penny, and we’ll see you next time!