Thanks to an abundance of online tax services, you can do your taxes online and even avoid paying an accountant by logging in to free tax software platforms. The variety of options means you can find the right program for your needs.
What Is the Best Tax Service?
The best tax software for self-employed contractors is not necessarily going to be the same as the best tax software for small business owners, professionals or even tax preparers. Here is a look at some of the biggest and best names in the tax software game.
Key Feature: Best tax service for complex returns
TurboTax is probably the best-known tax preparation company, but it’s also among the most expensive. It offers some great features that make it easy to use, though, such as the ability to file your taxes on any device, including your phone. You can even save time by entering your W-2 information simply by snapping a picture of the document.
TurboTax guarantees you’ll receive the maximum refund or it will refund the purchase price. The company also guarantees that all calculations will be 100% accurate or it will pay any IRS penalties and interest, and year-round audit support is part of the purchase price. Another helpful feature of TurboTax is TurboTax Live, which allows you to talk to an expert live on screen.
TurboTax Pricing: Online Services
- Basic: $0 to $89
- Deluxe: $89 to $129
- Premier: $139 to $179
- Self-Employed: $169 to $209
Pros of TurboTax
- Comprehensive coverage of tax issues
- Live help
- Option to pay for TurboTax service out of your refund
- Guides you through recent tax changes
- Imports last year’s TurboTax data
- Easy to use
Cons of TurboTax
- Costs more than some competitors’ software
- Some forms and schedules not supported in all versions
H&R Block Overview
Key Feature: Best tax service for in-person support
Another familiar name in the tax-preparation game, H&R Block’s online software offers many great features, such as importing your income information from your prior year’s tax return, even if you used a different tax preparer, so you don’t have to enter all the information again.
H&R Block also guarantees that you’ll receive the maximum refund possible. It allows you to use its software to amend your return without any additional charges. Plus, it will pay up to $10,000 if you incur extra penalties or interest because of a software miscalculation, and will support you in the event of an audit.
H&R Block Tax Services Pricing
- Free Online: $0
- Deluxe Online: $35 to $55
- Premium Online: $55 to $75
- Self Employed Online: $85 to $110
- Virtually: $85
- In-person: $85
You should note that all above pricing is for federal taxes and would have an additional state fee.
Pros of H&R Block
- Option to pay for service from your refund
- Insights from The Tax Institute on tax changes and strategy
- Brick-and-mortar locations available
Cons of H&R Block
- Relatively high prices for federal and state returns
Key Feature: Best tax service for low-cost options
TaxAct offers a range of online and downloadable tax prep products, from free filing up to its premium versions. You have unlimited access to support when filing your return, but you must call when TaxAct is open. TaxAct doesn’t have around-the-clock customer support, but it is open for service on weekends.
TaxAct Pricing: Online Services
- Free: $0, plus $39.95 per state return
- Deluxe: $24.95, plus $44.95 per state return
- Premier: $34.95, plus $44.95 per state return
- Self Employed: $64.95, plus $44.95 per state return
Pros of TaxAct
- Competitive online pricing
- Version specifically geared toward freelancers
- Guaranteed price
Cons of TaxAct
- Support not available 24/7
Key Feature: Best tax service for live phone support
TaxSlayer offers five different online products for filing your income tax returns. For its Simply Free option, as long as you use Form 1040, you don’t have to pay for your federal and first state returns. All products offer live phone support. If you want features like audit assistance, Ask a Tax Pro, priority support or live chat support, however, you’ll need to use the Premium version.
With Simply Free, you can also compare your return with your prior return to see how your numbers have changed and make sure you didn’t miss anything.
TaxSlayer Pricing: Online Services
- Simply Free: $0
- Classic: $19.95, plus $39.95 per state return
- Premium: $39.95, plus $39.95 per state return
- Self-Employed: $49.95, plus $39.95 per first state return
Pros of TaxSlayer
- Lower price
- Prepare from any laptop or mobile device
Cons of TaxSlayer
- No live chat for free or classic version — email and phone help only
- Only available online
Credit Karma Tax Overview
Key Feature: Best tax service to avoid fees
For truly free tax service, look no further than Credit Karma Tax. Credit Karma doesn’t support all income tax forms, but it covers many of the important ones and charges nothing for the service.
Credit Karma does not support certain forms and situations, including multiple state returns, part-year resident state returns, foreign earned income, married filing separately in community property states and state-only returns. Returns with any of these components can’t be accommodated. To begin, you must sign up to be a Credit Karma member, which is free as well.
Credit Karma Pricing
- All returns are free.
Pros of Credit Karma
- No upsells
- Customer support team
Cons of Credit Karma
- Some filings not supported
- Must sign up for Credit Karma
- Not available for download
Final Take: The Best Tax Software For You
Whether you file a personal tax return or own a small business, there is an online tax filing service or tax software that will enable you to file taxes online this tax season.
However, even the best tax software won’t do all the work for you. If you’re not confident in your ability to navigate tax software, you should call a professional to help you figure out how to file taxes or seek out free tax assistance that is offered in many cities and towns.
- What is the best software for doing your own taxes?
- If you have a basic, simple tax return, Credit Karma Tax offers what you'll need for free. H&R Block offers a variety of pricing options for different levels of complexity and even has brick-and-mortar locations if you need to talk it through with someone face-to-face.
- Ultimately, the best software depends on what your budget is and how complicated your tax situation is.
- What is the most popular software used for filing taxes?
- Two of the most popular tax software options for filing your taxes online are H&R Block and TurboTax.
- Is H&R Block or TurboTax better?
- If you are looking for an in-person option to file your taxes, H&R Block may be better for you. However, if you want a more comprehensive online filing option, TurboTax may better suit your needs.
- Is paying for TurboTax worth it?
- Depending on how complicated your return is, TurboTax may be worth it, since its tax services offer comprehensive coverage of tax issues and live help, as well as a range of packages varying in price, so you can find one that suits your needs and your budget.
Caitlyn Moorhead contributed to the reporting for this article.
Information is accurate as of Jan. 23, 2023, and is subject to change.