A Look at Tax Filing Options and Costs
Tax season is now on the other side of daylight saving time, which means if you haven’t yet filed your returns, you missed your chance to join the early birds. Even so, there’s still time, but you don’t want to waste any of it sorting through all the many software options — so GOBankingRates did the hard work for you.
The following guide profiles all the top providers offering all price ranges, from low to high.
IRS Free File
As the name implies, both options are free for filing federal returns.
- Guided Tax Preparation: Those with AGIs under $73,000 can use guided software that does the work for you and makes all calculations — you just answer some simple questions. It includes some state preparation and free filing, too.
- Fillable Forms: This bare-bones option is for AGIs over $73,000. You receive no guidance and must do all the work, make all your own calculations and file yourself. No state preparation is included.
Cash App Taxes
Cash App Taxes — formerly Credit Karma Tax — stands out as the only 100% free service with no price tiers, fees, paid extras or add-ons. The price is $0 for both federal and state returns, including for relatively complex situations, like if you sold stocks, traded cryptocurrency or are taking deductions.
You must download the app to use the software, support is limited to email and document importation requires you to snap and send photos. But it’s free from start to finish for all taxpayers with no exceptions.
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FreeTaxUSA charges a low $14.95 for state returns no matter which option you choose, and you can upgrade to the Deluxe Edition for $7.99 — that buys you live chat, priority support and unlimited amended returns. Beyond that, the service lives up to its name with 100% free federal returns for all four categories:
- Basic: Beginner-friendly interface for simple returns
- Advanced: Good for more complex situations like homeownership, credits and deductions
- Premium: Use this version for advanced situations like investments, rental income or the sale of a home.
- Self-Employed: Freelancers, contractors and small-business owners should use this version.
Jackson Hewitt doesn’t have tiered pricing for its online DIY software. Instead, you pay a flat rate of $25 no matter how simple or complicated your tax situation may be. If you have simple returns, you can file for free elsewhere, but otherwise, its flat rate is tough to beat — especially considering it includes unlimited free state returns.
Like Jackson Hewitt, 1040.com charges a flat fee of $25 — including state returns — no matter how complex your returns are. Protection Plus audit assistance costs $29.95. The difference is that — unlike Jackson Hewitt, which has a nationwide network of offices and tax professionals who can help for an extra fee — 1040.com is fully online DIY.
E-File.com charges $22.49 for state returns no matter which of the three editions you choose.
- Free Federal Basic ($0): Good only for simple individual or joint returns
- Deluxe Plus E-file ($20.99): Choose this edition for more complex situations like filing with dependents, mortgage interest deductions and retirement income. It comes with phone and online support, but it’s only for filers with income up to $100,000.
- Premium Plus E-file ($37.49): This option comes with full phone support and includes all schedules and forms whether you itemize or not. You can use it to report both business and personal income, and it includes IRS audit assistance.
State returns are $0 with the Simply Free edition and $39.95 with the other three options.
- Simply Free ($0): For simple 1040 tax returns only
- Classic ($29.95): Includes all IRS forms, credits and deductions. Taxslayer calls it “The best value for any tax situation.”
- Premium ($49.95): Classic plus live chat, assistance from tax pros and “skip-the-line” email and phone support.
- Self-Employed ($59.95): A specialized interface for Form 1099 and Schedule C business and personal income reporting
With TaxAct, state returns are $39.95 each with the Free edition and $54.95 with the other three options. The following prices are for DIY filing only. Add $39.95 for expert help.
- Free ($0): Suitable only for basic federal filers with simple returns.
- Deluxe ($46.95): This edition is right for filers with loans and dependents.
- Premier ($69.95): Choose this version if you have investment income and transactions.
- Self-Employed ($94.95): This option is right if you have personal and business income to report.
State returns are $0 with the Free Online version and $45 with the other three tiers.
- Free Online ($0): Good for simple returns for students and W-2 earners.
- Deluxe ($55): Everything from the free version, plus itemized deductions and child and dependent care expenses, and you can store your returns for six years.
- Premium ($75): Everything from Deluxe plus investments, rental income and crypto transactions.
- Self-Employed ($115): Everything from Premium plus business deductions and independent contractor income.
You have three options with all four TurboTax tiers: do your own taxes; do your own taxes with expert assistance; and full service, where TurboTax does your taxes for you.
- Do Your Own ($0-$124): For simple tax returns.
- Assisted ($0-$214): Get unlimited help from real tax experts.
- Full Service ($214-$404): An expert will do your taxes for you.
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