Best Tax Software: Which tax prep solution is right for you in 2019?

|
Best Tax Software: Which tax prep solution is right for you in 2019?
Image Credit: Dreamstime
Team Clark is adamant that we will never write content influenced by or paid for by an advertiser. To support our work, we do make money from some links to companies and deals on our site. Learn more about our guarantee here.
Advertisement

It’s that time of year again when Americans scramble to get their taxes done before the April deadline.

We know that many of you will choose to use DIY tax software programs rather than go to a physical location to get your taxes done this year.

But with the marketplace so crowded with online options, it can be hard to know which one is best for you.

RELATED: Here’s your 2019 estimated tax refund schedule

So many choices: TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxAct, Tax Slayer, Jackson Hewitt, FreeTaxUSA

Before we dive in to help you figure out the best tax prep solution for you, let’s step back a moment and address a question that needs to be answered first:

How do you know when you need more than just a software package to get your taxes done? In other words, what kinds of situations warrant you actually paying more money for the services of a tax professional?

In general, if you’re divorced, own a small business or have big-time investment assets, you’re probably going to be better off with the human touch of an accountant, CPA or tax advisor.

But if your situation is relatively simple, you may want to consider a DIY tax software program.

TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxAct, Tax Slayer, Jackson Hewitt and FreeTaxUSA are among the most popular of these offerings. Here’s a look at what each one brings to the table:

TurboTax

turbotax logo

One of the most popular programs out there, TurboTax is known for walking you through every potential income, expense, deduction and credit option on a very granular level.

Name Price Support available Federal/state e-file
 TurboTax Deluxe  $39  Live on-screen support Federal included; $40 for state return

The TurboTax Deluxe package offers the following:

  • Streamlined tax process starts with you uploading a picture of your W-2 form. From there, TurboTax will auto-fill the info in for you
  • Live on-screen support available 24/7 — you can even screen share with a TurboTax rep as you work through your return
  • TurboTax offers complimentary audit-risk identification by going through your return for possible IRS red flags
  • In the event of an audit, TurboTax’s free audit support helps you find out why you were contacted and what you need to do next

Though TurboTax Deluxe is the company’s most popular package, there’s also a free edition you may want to check out.

H&R Block

h&r block logo

Not to be outdone by its competitors, H&R Block also has its own free file version.

“H&R Block’s free online tax filing includes 45 forms required for filing – that’s twice as many as TurboTax,” the company boasts online. “Plus, we offer more credits & deductions, so you won’t have to upgrade and pay extra for your simple tax return.”

Meanwhile, the Deluxe Online Tax Filing option is one of H&R Block’s most popular.

Name Price Support available Federal/state e-file
H&R Block Deluxe Online Tax Filing $22.49 Live chat Federal included; $36.99 for state return

The Deluxe Online Tax Filing package offers the following:

  • Snap a pic to import your W-2
  • With H&R Block’s Maximum Refund Guarantee, the company’s got your back if you run your numbers through a competitor’s program and the competitor’s calculations give you a bigger refund. H&R Block will return the money you paid them and then amend your return for free so you get the bigger refund
  • Free in-person audit support is available if you purchase and use their software
  • Store all your tax documents and returns in MyBlock for six years
  • Technical support also available by phone

Finally, we should note that H&R Block has teamed up with Amazon for a unique refund bonus structure. Purchase your H&R Block software package through the e-commerce site and you’ll get a 5% bonus if you elect to receive that refund as an Amazon gift card.

So, for example, if you get a $3,000 refund, you’ll get another $150 on top of that in Amazon credit! Read the fine print of this offer here.

TaxAct

taxact logo

TaxAct offers some of the cheapest price points for paid software.

Meanwhile, their free product offers fast, free filing for simple returns both state and federal, including those with retirement income.

However, it’s the Deluxe+ package that is the company’s most popular offering.

Name Price Support available Federal/state e-file
TaxAct Plus $29.95 Online help Federal included; $39.95 for state return

The Deluxe+ package offers the following:

  • Easily import your W-2 for faster filing
  • Price Lock Guarantee means you’ll pay the advertised price at the time you create your return — even if you file later and prices have gone up by then
  • With the $100k Accuracy Guarantee, TaxAct will reimburse you up to $100,000 if their calculations cause you to get a smaller refund or if the IRS assesses any penalties or interest on you because of an error in the company’s software

Tax Slayer

taxslayer logo

Here’s another budget offering when it comes to the paid online filing portion.

Tax Slayer’s Simply Free software gives you free prep and filing of your federal and state returns for people who file a basic 1040 form.

Meanwhile, the company’s most popular offering is the Classic edition.

Name Price Support available Federal/state e-file
Tax Slayer Classic $17 Phone, live chat and email Federal included; $29 for state return

The Tax Slayer Classic package offers the following:

  • Easily import your W-2 for faster filing
  • With the Maximum Refund Guarantee, Tax Slayer promises to refund the cost you paid for its software if you get a larger refund from another provider. However, unlike H&R Block, it won’t make a free adjustment to your return to get you that extra money
  • The federal return portion of Tax Slayer Classic is free for active military. Additional charges apply for the state return at a discounted rate of $29 per state

Jackson Hewitt

jackson hewitt logo

Jackson Hewitt distinguishes itself from competitors by offering a hybrid online/in-person tax-filing business model.

So, you can fill out your return online from the comfort of your own home using their software. But should you run into any problems, you can always swing by your local Jackson Hewitt office and talk with someone in person.

The company has more than 6,000 locations — with 3,000 of them located inside Walmarts — so it’s easy to get your preparation issue solved quickly!

Jackson Hewitt has a free filing option, but its unnamed basic entry-level package is the most popular:

Name Price Support available Federal/state e-file
Jackson Hewitt $29.99 Live chat Federal included; $36.95 for state return

The entry-level package offers the following:

  • Easy step-by-step tax preparation to file
  • Secure Storage and access to your returns
  • Unlimited online support
  • Auto-completion of state returns

FreeTaxUSA

freetaxusa logo

FreeTaxUSA offers the cheapest pricing for paid online tax filing.

There is, of course, a free plan — otherwise why would “free” be in the name? But it’s the Deluxe plan for under $7 that’s most popular.

Name Price Support available Federal/state e-file
FreeTaxUSA $6.99 Live chat Federal included; $12.95 for state return

The Deluxe plan offers the following:

  • Chat directly with a tax specialist and get the help you need
  • Jump to the front of the line with our most experienced representatives
  • File amended returns at no extra cost
  • Specialists available to help you through an IRS notice or the audit process

Check out these other free tax prep options

As noted above, you don’t have to pay anything to get your taxes done. These options listed below are also free.

IRS FreeFile

The IRS Free File program offers free preparation and e-filing of federal and state tax returns in partnership with a number of providers. The only requirement is that your adjust gross income be below $66,000.

CreditKarma

Make more than $66,000 in adjusted gross income? No worries, there’s a free filing option for you, too! CreditKarma.com offers free prep software available to all regardless of income.

Just note that if your credit is frozen, you won’t be able to sign up for a new CreditKarma account to take advantage of their free tax filing offer.

Here are some more articles you might enjoy from Clark.com:

Advertisement
Author placeholder image About the author:
Members of our editorial team contribute to content published by "Clark Howard Staff." To keep up with our latest news, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
View More Articles
  • Show Comments Hide Comments