Tax preparation software are programs designed to assist and automate the calculation and filing of tax returns for individuals and companies. Regardless of the complexity of a given tax situation, tax preparation software can help break down the processes and forms into easy-to-follow steps. This can be done for federal, state, and local taxes.

Tax preparation software is ideal for businesses of all sizes, not to mention anyone who finds the process of preparing their taxes confusing, difficult, and stressful. Where businesses will most likely require the more elaborate suites with extra features to cover all their bases, individual users should opt for the more stripped down offerings and not spend money on extra options they won’t need.

When selecting a tax preparation software program, ease of use should be a priority. To that end, programs that offer online resources, access to previous tax data, deduction calculators, and other tools, provide the best value. These are additional features to free federal returns and filings, which most tax services offer.

Before deciding on tax preparation software, make sure to consider the following questions: Is there an accuracy guarantee? Is audit support provided? Does it include all major IRS forms and schedules? Is there a searchable database, or phone/chat support?


Top 10 Companies

#1
9.4 / 10
  • Maximum refund guarantee
  • 100% accuracy guarantee
  • Free in-person audit support
  • 11,000 locations nationwide
  • Pay nothing out of pocket
  • Step by step guidance
#2
Our Partner
9.3 / 10
  • Constantly updated with the latest tax laws
  • Quick and easy to use
  • Biggest state refund, guaranteed
  • Accurate calculations, guaranteed
  • Extensive list of deductions and credits you qualify for
  • Help for homeowners
  • Help with life changes (dependents, status)
  • Expert support (phone and live chat)
#3
9.0 / 10
  • 100% accuracy guarantee
  • Low State Additional rates
  • Maximum refund guarantee
  • Free tax help and audit support
  • Maximize deductions for donations
  • Free simple and complex tax forms
  • Tax alerts
#4
8.8 / 10
  • 100% accuracy guarantee
  • Simple, Easy to Use
  • Four packages to choose from
  • Absolutely No Hidden Fees

 

#5
Our Partner
8.7 / 10
  • Accuracy guarantee
  • Fast refunds
  • Maximize deductions
  • Maximize credits
  • Covers all types of returns
  • Audit assist
#6
8.2 / 10
  • Maximum refunds guarantee
  • Free chat/ tech support
  • Price guarantee
  • Accuracy guarantee
  • Import prior year tax return
#7
8.1 / 10
  • 100% accuracy guarantee
  • Biggest refunds guaranteed
  • In-store service available
  • Free unlimited chat and email support
  • Over 6300 locations (including Walmart)
#8
6.3 / 10
  • Free help and support
  • Guided tax preparation
  • English and Spanish speakers
  • Guided tax preparation
  • Pay with refund
#9
5.5 / 10
  • Guaranteed maximum refund
  • File for free
  • Live phone support
  • All major forms
  • Deduction finder
#10
5.0 / 10
  • Maximum refund guarantee
  • Price match guarantee
  • 100% calculation accuracy
  • Tax audit assistance
  • Free e-file and print
  • Free online support
  • Pay only once for multiple state e-file returns  
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How We Compare Tax Preparation Software

Must Have

30%

All of the top tax preparation software offered these items as standard. The companies even boasted that they’ll give their services for free if you were able to get a better deal or bigger refund using another tax preparation software.

  • Accuracy Guarantee
  • Maximum Refund Guarantee
  • Import Prior Year data
  • All Tax-filling Options
  • Audit Support

Supported Tax Forms

25%

Federal   

State

Business

1099

Stocks and Investments

Complex

Military


Ease of Use

20%

How can you but describe user experience when using the software? Is the tax preparation simple or intuitive enough for people preparing their tax reports for the first time?

Ease of using the tax preparation software is the sum of all these user-targeted features. It starts on how the form is designed and how the software walks you through the process. Just like talking with your tax preparer, the software should be able to get all your financial details and be able to dig deeper to create an accurate and detailed return.

 

Step by step workflow

Tax tools

Deduction discovery tools

Online resource/ knowledge base

Import previous tax returns


Plans and Pricing

15%

How does each similarly priced tax preparation compare? Plans for tax preparation software run from free to premium editions. While free editions offer capable features for preparing simple tax returns, higher priced or paid editions target more complex tax returns. The best tax preparation software offer free federal returns but charge fees for state returns. We compare the different tax preparation software not only in terms of pricing but also its features.

 

Free Federal Returns

Free e-file

Use deduction to pay for tax preparation services


Support Services

10%

This is especially useful for first-time tax preparers. Your online tax preparation software should be able to guide you through the tax preparation process with plenty of online resources and walkthroughs. We studied the various support options of each company and assess its accessibility. We were surprised that some of the tax preparation services even offered free audit support on their Free editions. Aside from the standard email or telephone support, other services we looked into included live chat support, audits and tax consulting services.

And if everything fails, the ability to walk in an office and talk with tax professionals will always be a plus. We all know the difficulty of filling an inaccurate tax return or missing out on some important deductions.

 

Tax preparation software and even the best ones we reviewed is not a hundred percent guarantee of an accurate tax return or you’re getting the most deductions. This is why we recommend that you consider working with a professional tax preparer especially if this is your first time to use a tax preparation software or have doubts in any step of the tax preparation process. 


Customer Questions & Answers

What happens if there are errors in my taxes because of the Tax Software?

Good tax software companies offer guarantees if this situation occurs. Many times if you are fined because of an error, the software company will reimburse you if they are at fault. And if you are audited, most companies have tax specialists who are able to answer your questions and help you prepare for your audit free of charge. Make sure you look for these guarantees before purchasing tax software.

Can I prepare my own taxes?

Absolutely, though this is not recommended unless you are a professional, have experience doing this on your own, or are ready to sit down and do some extensive studying. The IRS does not make filing taxes on your own easy, and the fear of being audited due to errors during tax preparation is often a big incentive to pay the money for professional support.

Can I reuse my Tax Software next year?

No, unfortunately you can’t. Every year tax laws change, and every year tax software is updated to be compliant with these laws. Additionally, the IRS requires you to use their forms for the filing year. So, if you were to use your software from last year for this years tax filings, your filing will likely be rejected or be accidentally filed as last years taxes causing confusion with the IRS (which could also result in fines for this years taxes). And let’s face it, nobody wants to have to deal with the IRS more than they already have to.

What are the advantages of using Tax Software?

One of the biggest advantages of using Tax Software is the cost. If you hire a tax professional you may be looking at a bill upwards of $100, and a CPA will likely charge you twice that, if not more, for the most basic tax filings. Tax software, on the other hand, costs around $20-120, for both state and federal filing.

Another benefit is speed. Once you have all the documents, most people find they are able to complete their taxes within an hour, whereas, it can take up to a few weeks for a professional to do it for you.

Last, good tax software is simple, and will walk you through the preparation process quickly, especially if your taxes are straight forward. Additionally, many companies offer support for software users who find themselves with questions during the process.