One of the most oft-quoted and well-known axioms around is the phrase, “There’s nothing guaranteed in life except for death and taxes.” And as the 2020 tax deadline of Wednesday, April 15 approaches, you’ll want to make sure all of your tax information is filed and ready to roll so you don’t incur any penalties from the IRS. Taxes are inherently complicated — but fortunately — there’s software that can help.
Once you’ve rounded up all of your relevant info (W2s, last year’s tax info, etc) these five software programs can take the hassle and stress out of trying to do your taxes by yourself. So what should you look for in tax filing software?
- User Experience: an easy to use (and easy to understand) interface
- Information: the best software features detailed breakouts of what information is needed and why
- Customer Support: While customer service may be limited with free filing software, there should at least be FAQ sections and instructions to help you file
- Free Options: Most people will be able to file their taxes for free, and the IRS even has recommendations for which free tax filing websites to use (some of which we’ve included in our list as well)
As you prepare to file your 2019 taxes before April 15, 2020, check out our picks to help you sail through tax season.
H&R Block Free Online Tax Service
H&R Block’s brick and mortar stores have been helping customers file their taxes since the Block Brothers opened their first location in 1955. But you don’t have to go into a physical store any longer if you don’t want to, as the provider now offers their own online filing service. Backed by a trusted name brand, H&R Block’s online service has a free option that should cover most basic returns and has things like a progress tracker to help you determine how far along in the process you are. Plus, with a clean interface, it’s simple and easy to figure out what to do next.
If you make more than $69,000 a year or own your own home, H&R Block does have paid options starting at $39.99.
TurboTax Online Tax Service
TurboTax made their bones as being the first dedicated tax software when it first debuted in 2001. Since then, it has continued to be the leader in dedicated tax software. Now with the power of the internet, you don’t need to pay for a software disk like you had to in the aughts. Rather, you can just start the process (for free!) online. TurboTax has lots of helpful options to better help you determine what’s the right product to use based on your specific setup. Plus if you have any questions, you can chat with a professional at any time.
Like H&R Block, TurboTax has premium options starting at $40. And, like the best tax filing software, TurboTax makes it easy to upload your W2. Once you scan or take a photo of your info, most of your tax information will be automatically filled out for you, making the entire process super easy. For beginners wondering where to file for free, TurboTax is the name to know.
Credit Karma Online Tax Service
Another great option for simple returns, the online credit monitoring site Credit Karma also offers a standalone tax filing service (along with lots of other financial solutions). What stands out immediately about Credit Karma is that the entire process is completely free from start to finish. Additionally, their Smart File basically holds your hand as you progress through it, showing the applicable sections that are unique to your specific file. Simple and easy, it’s great for first-time filers that don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to get their taxes done.
Credit Karma is primarily known for its credit services. So if you want to check your credit score or find affordable interest rates on credit cards, this is a great two-for-one option.
FreeTaxUSA Online Tax Service
FreeTaxUSA’s online tax service allows for a completely free federal tax return, only charging you for your state return. However, should you get lost in the process at all, you’ll get priority support when it comes to asking questions in their online chat, as well as unlimited amended returns (should, god forbid, something go awry). Finally, if you’ve used another software in previous years, you can quickly important that return into FreeTax and get started on this year’s in a flash.
TaxSlayer Online Tax Service
We’ll be honest here, part of the appeal of including TaxSlayer is the absolutely metal name. A name isn’t everything, of course, so it’s quite helpful that TaxSlayer is good at, well, helping you slay your taxes. The difference here is that TaxSlayer is a robust tool for those well-versed in the process, as the majority of the fees are associated with the level of support needed. And with options starting at $17 per file, it’s one of the most affordable filing services on this list. There’s not much on the hand-holding side of things, so if you’re a first-time-flier, you may want to look at one of the options above.