The Best Tax Prep Software
Everyone dies, everyone files taxes, and no one looks forward to doing either of those things. Unless you’re an accountant with a catalog of high-paying clients, tax season will no doubt fill you with dread.
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Those who have accountants worry about being overcharged (by both the government and the accountant) and those who don’t simply try to make it through the season without pulling their hair out and regretting every single decision they made over the course of the previous year.
If you’re in the latter group, you may find some relief with professional tax software. This software is designed to take the stress and the hassle out of filing taxes, promising to do it quickly, painlessly, and cheaply. But how true are those statements, how easy are these tax programs to use and, most importantly, what is the best tax preparation software on the market right now?
Best Tax Software
What follows is a list of the best tax software aimed at small business and professional users. Whether you run multiple businesses as an ambitious entrepreneur or work as a self-employed writer, artist or tradesman, these software options can help to make your life a little easier.
- 100% free tax filing
- No strings attached
- Pay more for additional support
As the name suggests, this is a free tax program. As you might expect, it doesn’t have the same advanced features found on more premium online tax software, but it’s ideal for filing personal tax returns and can save you a few bucks in the process.
There is a Deluxe Edition that offers some extra benefits, including additional support, but the free version should provide you with what you need if you’re an individual filer or run a very small business. And the best thing about this program is that it’s completely ad-free, which makes for a refreshing change as these days “free” seems to mean “cluttered with ads”.
4. Jackson Hewitt
- Multiple filing options
- Physical locations
- Respected company
Jackson Hewitt sells several different tax preparation products aimed at consumers of varying needs. The company has over 7,000 physical offices across the United States and offers services that connect the online with the offline.
The services are better suited towards higher earners and bigger businesses and may not be ideal for consumers seeking a fast and cheap filing, especially when you consider the interface isn’t the best and the features are not the most diverse.
- Free filing available
- Lots of different options
TaxAct simulates the services of a tax professional and helps you to file your income tax returns and small business tax returns on time. There are five products available, all covering different needs and returns, including:
- Free Edition
- Basic Edition
- Deluxe Edition
- Premier Edition
- Self-Employed Edition
Depending on the option you choose, you will pay anywhere from $0 to $77.95 for federal taxes and $19.95 to $39.95 for state taxes.
- Ease to use software
- Several options to choose from
- One of the most competitively priced programs
TaxSlayer can help to ease some of your burdens during tax time, offering a high-quality tax service for a relatively low cost, with most packages priced at between $25 and $50. For the services provided, its prices are some of the best in the industry and it has services to cater for all tax filers.
It is lacking a little when it comes to professional support, and the number 1 tax prep software on this list actually edges ahead for this very reason. However, TaxSlayer is much cheaper when filing both a state return and federal return and it offers many of the same great features.
- One of the best software companies in this sector
- Straightforward filing process
- Several packages available
TurboTax is one of the best known DIY tax preparers in the United States and it was designed with simplicity in mind.
Created by Intuit, TurboTax is a little more expensive than some competing programs, and you’ll pay just under $120 for a self-employment version, but there is also a free version that allows you to file basic tax returns.
One of the benefits of this software is that it highlights potential deductions when you file your taxes, and could, therefore, help you to save. It’s not flawless, and it can’t do the job of a good accountant. If it could, the entire accounting industry would be dead, and the most experienced professionals wouldn’t be able to charge so much money for their services.
However, if you run a small business or operate as a sole proprietor or freelancer, you don’t really need all that extra information and can use TurboTax to file your taxes, make the right deductions, and educate yourself on the process.
TurboTax is used by countless companies and entrepreneurs across the country and it is partnered with over 1,000 major organizations. It arguably has the largest member base of any tax software and it has helped countless filers to save money.
Other Tax Software Programs
In addition to everything discussed above, there are a few programs that didn’t quite make the cut, either because they’re not diverse or complex enough or because they fall short in other areas. However, they are still worth looking into and there are some great features available.
Credit Karma Tax
- Ease of use
- Free to use
The Credit Karma Tax software is free and great for submitting simple returns, but it’s a little lacking in some areas and is not ideal for complex tax returns.
- Live help from a tax expert
- Many physical locations
H&R Block customers can take advantage of over 12,000 physical locations and a software program that is easy to use and provides access to more than 80,000 tax experts.
- Access to loans and financing
- Includes tax law changes calculator
Liberty Tax offers several reasonably-priced packages, the most basic of which charge less than $20 for an “easy filing”. However, once you venture away from this package, the prices are a little more expensive than what other companies are charging.
Bottom Line: A Life Saver
Small business owners, busy freelancers, and everyone else who gets stressed out during tax time can benefit from using these programs. The deluxe packages provided by the likes of TaxSlayer and TurboTax can save you a lot of time and money, and while the prices can be a little off-putting at first, you won’t think that when you’re given a sizeable tax refund and can breeze through tax season without issue!