Tax time. It rolls around every year. How are you going to get that pesky return filed? Are you wondering which online tax prep software is the best? I’m here to help. There are a million different tax preparation services, so I polled my friends (many of which are tax accountants themselves) to get the scoop on the best options out there.
Do-It-Yourself Online Tax Prep Software
For A Basic Return
Taxslayer.com – My good accountant friend Nate has used this site for years. He said, “It’s super user friendly for the basic return,” but cautions that it may not be dynamic enough for more serious issues (e.g. carryover losses, Fed/CA differences). However, I’m kind of assuming people with more complicated returns wouldn’t be using a low-cost internet tax prep service anyway.
Freetaxusa.com – One of my friends is actually a programmer for this online software. Another friend has used it for a while and has always been satisfied. Right now their prices appear to be a tad lower than TaxSlayer, but prices change so double-check before starting your return.
Taxact.com – Another internet tax software, comparable in price to TaxSlayer and FreeTaxUSA. My friend Tiffany has used this for years and still recommends it.
For More Complex Returns (e.g. if you buy/sell stock and have many sales to report)
TurboTax – My friend Steve who works in Private Equity buys and sells stock for his personal investments, so he loves how Turbo Tax can link to his bank and investments accounts and do most of the work for him. If you have a more complex return but still want to prepare it yourself, this may be a good option for you. It’s definitely pricier compared to more basic options, but still perhaps cheaper than having a professional prepare your return.
Want Your Return Prepared or Reviewed by Someone Else?
H&R Block – This is one of the most popular tax preparation services. You can (1) prepare your return yourself by using their online software, (2) go into their office and have an H&R Block employee prepare your return, or (3) choose their “Best of Both” option which allows you to prepare your return online yourself, then have it reviewed by a tax professional before filing.
Other Professional – None of these options seem reliable enough or simply feel like you’re in over your head? Looking to establish a relationship with a provider you can rely on for years to come? Use the IRS Website to find an authorized e-file provider near you. These providers range from small CPA groups (like my dad) to larger firms (with price tags to match). Ask a friend in your area who they’d recommend.
Free Tax Prep for Lower-Income Individuals
VITA – If you’re lower income (usually, earning $55,000 or less), you may qualify for free tax preparation through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. I volunteered for this organization while I was in college–it’s a great program where volunteers are trained to look for credits specific to those with lower income, such as the Earned Income Credit. Call 1-800-906-9887 to see if there’s a VITA site near you.
And that’s my breakdown of online tax prep software!