For those who haven’t heard, the deadline to file your taxes has been pushed to July 15 because of coronavirus. Additionally, millions of Americans are stuck at home with nothing to do as a result of social distancing. Put those two together and you have no excuse for not doing your own taxes. The internet is literally awash with tax-filing software that promise the biggest refund, easy-to-use interfaces and access to helpful customer service. We took a look at some of these services and narrowed it down to a few of the best.
Best Overall: TurboTax Deluxe
Cost: $60 for federal; $50 for state
First, if you make $36,000 or less, file your taxes using IRS Free File Program delivered by TurboTax for all the benefits of TurboTax with no fee. Otherwise, TurboTax Deluxe offers great service for basic filers earning over $36,000, homeowners, those with dependents and those with student loans. TurboTax Deluxe helps filers maximize over 350 deductions and credits so you can get the most out of your return. Its interface and the ease with which you’re guided through a typically frustrating process is unbeatable. If you’re someone who becomes easily overwhelmed with this filing taxes or finances, it’s the path of least resistance.
Best For Super Basic Returns: Credit Karma
Cost: $0 for federal; $0 for state
Credit Karma’s free tax filing service is best for those who only have the most basic tax forms to input like W-2s and a variety of 1099s. Credit Karma offers the best service for those with any income, and they support individuals who are self-employed and filing a Schedule C, the most common tax form for those just starting their business. Customer service is available 24/7, and a streamlined process makes it easy to get your filing done as quick as possible.
Best For Tax-Filing Veterans: TaxAct Deluxe+
Cost: $55 for federal; $45 for state
TaxAct is slightly cheaper than TurboTax, but it comes at the cost of customer service. That’s why TaxAct is better for those who have had some experience in filing their taxes on their own. The service’s free option is a good choice for those with basic needs, but if you’re a homeowner or want to file deductions, credits and adjustments, Deluxe+ is the better option.
Best For “I-Can-Do-It-Myself” Filers: TaxSlayer Simply Free
Cost: $0 for federal; $0 for one state return
If TaxAct Deluxe is for the tax-filing veteran, then TaxSlayer is for the person who has accounting in their blood. Each tier of TaxSlayer’s services corresponds to the amount of service you’ll receive. So if you’ve done your taxes on your own for years, and don’t require the hand holding some other services offer, then TaxSlayer Simply Free is for you.
Best For Filers Afraid of Audits : H&R Block
Cost: $30-$90 for federal; $0-40 for state
All of H&R Block’s tax-filing services are quality products, but its audit defense is the brand’s highlight. Most tax softwares offer audit assistance, which only goes so far as preparing you for what to expect from the audit. Audit defense is typically a paid product that puts someone between you and the IRS; with H&R Block’s $20 Worry-Free Audit Support, filers receive IRS correspondence management, audit preparation and in-person audit representation.
Best For Complicated Tax Filings: A Professional Accountant
Cost: An average of $158/hour per the National Society of Accountants’ 2018-19 Income and Fees Survey Tax filers who are self-employed, own a small business, have complicated investments or are preparing for major life events should consider consulting with a tax professional to file their taxes. You could pay for a more advanced tax filing software, like TurboTax Premier, but the more forms you have, the greater room for error. And the last thing you need is to have the IRS knocking on your door because of some incorrectly inputted numbers. Having a reputable tax professional in your corner means having someone between your finances and the government.
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