The best software for filing your taxes — because you can never be too early

There are a number of programs that can help make filing taxes easier. If you are looking for a better solution for your tax situation, it’s a good idea to review your options. Our favorite tax software option is TurboTax. Among our list of options, TurboTax was the clear winner due to its ease of use and the fact that it provides explanations for most tax issues you may encounter.

If TurboTax isn’t in your price range or just isn’t your jam, then keep reading: We have five more tax software options to for you check out. Our other picks feature a variety of prices and useful tax prep services, so you’ll be sure to find something that works for you.

At a Glance

Tax Prep Software Use case Price
TurboTax Best Overall Tax Software Starting from $50
H&R Block Best Full-Service Tax Prep Software Starting from $30
TaxAct Best Tax Software for Experienced Customers Starting from $25
TaxSlayer Best Tax Software for Tax Pros Starting from $0
Liberty Tax Best Bare-Bones Tax Software Starting from $35
Credit Karma Best Free Tax Prep For Complex Returns Free

TurboTax

Best Overall Tax Software

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TurboTax from Intuit remains one of the most popular tax software options, and for good reason. The TurboTax system is easy to use, offers numerous explanations for all things tax-related, and has strong compatibility with past filings. The question-and-answer format makes filing on your own very easy, and there are online chat rooms with tax experts that you can consult should you run into anything too weird. The software also excels at helping you find deductions and ways to save more money.

However, there are a few issues worth noting. The interface can get a bit confusing when you are looking directly at your tax forms rather than using the TurboTax question format, which may make it difficult to find a specific form or answer a certain question not covered by the walkthrough. Also, TurboTax has some of the highest fees if you have taxes more complex than a basic filing, so be prepared to pay.

 H&R Block

Best Full-Service Tax Prep Software

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H&R Block’s services span apps, full programs, in-office visits, credit cards and much more: It’s a nice variety of options if you like choosing how to deal with your taxes, or you need some combination of digital self-filing and tax services to get everything done. Their primary tax program, however, is very similar to TurboTax, with a friendly interface and question-and-answer format that hides most of the real tax documents until the end. There are still plenty of online help and chat services, but it’s nice to have the option to make a real-world appointment if you want to. Keep on eye on extra charges for state filing though, as this is where H&R Block really raises the fees.

TaxAct

Best Tax Software for Experienced Customers

TaxAct-Online-Plus

TaxAct (once TaxEdge) takes you through your “Life Events” in the past year, and then walks you through how these events affect your state and income taxes, giving you the information you need to fill out the appropriate forms (although it won’t autofill everything for you).

It’s a simplified version of the TurboTax format that may be more suited to people who have been using tax programs for a while and don’t need so much handholding. 

TaxSlayer

Best Tax Software for Tax Pros

TaxSlayer 2018

TaxSlayer is another highly affordable option that you can use to save money on the download or save even more by filing your own taxes instead of hiring someone else to do it. The software has a simple, clean interface that turns your tax forms into basic digital information fill-outs, removing the confusion from tracking your tax documentation.

A number of professional accountants use TaxSlayer to help prepare their client’s taxes, so it does help to know the general layout of your taxes and what needs to be filled out this year (although there is a “Guide Me” option to make things easier). Searching through the forms is particularly quick here, thanks to powerful search tools. There are chat and phone support services if you get stuck at any part.

Liberty Tax

Best Bare-Bones Tax Software

Liberty Tax
There’s no free option for Liberty Tax, but the basic download comes with a variety of import tools to help you quickly gather your data from W-2s, last year’s return, ACA forms, and other documents. There are some powerful auto-fill features that make sure accurate information is transferred everywhere when you just have to import it once. Otherwise it’s a pretty simple program, although there is room for wizards that check for any important tax amendments and help you manage more complex scenarios.

However, it’s worth noting that while the Liberty Tax program is generally well-received, their brick-and-mortar establishment tend to have poor customer reviews, so it may not be the best option for face-to-face help.

Credit Karma

Best Free Tax Prep for Complex Returns

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Credit Karma can import tax returns made with TurboTax or H&R Block if you feel like making a switch. It’s useful as a free option you can use to save money while still working on a more complex return. The questionnaire style of the software is simple but fairly comprehensive, and support has grown by leaps and bounds since Credit Karma first came out. There’s now 24-hour chat services to help you figure out any sticky parts.

The interface makes this option particularly mobile friendly, but there is a catch to all of this. You need to sign up for a Credit Karma account, which gets you involved in a lot of other financial management stuff you may not be interested in (along with potential fees), so do a little research before jumping in.

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