5 Best Tax Preparation Software

Published On February 11, 2014 | App & Software

So, this isn’t a fun conversation to have, but it is absolutely an important one. How are you doing your taxes?

Historically, there have been only two options: You either hired an accountant or painstakingly went at it on your own, sitting on a pile of receipts, bills, checks and tax code. We’re blessed to live in the digital age, where we have a third option: Doing your taxes easily and affordably (and through a lot less paperwork) thanks to tax preparation software both offline and on.

If you’re new to the option, don’t fret! We’ll give you a rundown of the five best tax preparation products on the market, so you can make your life easier as soon as possible.

TurboTax

This is probably the most recognizable name on the list and, rightly so. TurboTax is one of the longest-running and most trusted tax software. It is an Intuit product, the same company that makes the leading accounting software for businesses, Quickbooks. TurboTax can still be purchased as desktop software, but it has lots of options and complexity levels to choose from online as well.

TurboTax can deal with complex returns and includes a live chat feature that allows you to ask questions and seek advice from a tax professional. Additionally, the company has taken steps to bring tax preparation software to any device like a tablet, smartphone, phablet or desktop. They’ve mobile optimized their online processes, so you can easily do your taxes anytime, anywhere.

TaxAct

TaxAct is appealing in price and features, and is perfect for someone with a relatively straightforward tax return. Like most of its competitors, TaxAct software is presented in interview format, guiding proper form submission through questions. It provides support services through its extensive and thorough help center, but it don’t readily offer the same live chat support that TurboTax might.

A differentiator for TaxAct is its higher education financial support. Unlike any competitors, TaxAct offers filers help with FAFSA applications and forms, so this might be a real bonus to a family with kids entering college.

H&R Block at Home

We’ve all seen the H&R Block TV commercials in heavy rotation around tax season, and they do a great job marketing their in-house services. Did you know they also offer online software to file? Like TurboTax, they also offer mobile device support. Additionally, the support center is not as robust as TurboTax or TaxAct. However, because it is created by a leader in tax preparation, the multitude of options, ability to process more complex returns and its breach into mobile make it a great alternative to TurboTax.

FreeFile

While this isn’t exactly a software offering, it is definitely worth mention. This service is provided by the IRS as a guide to finding free, brand-name tax preparation software for those who have made less than $58,000 in the tax year and have a simple return. Also, the services listed offer state tax returns, most of which are free of charge.

According to the IRS, nearly 98 percent of FreeFile users would recommend the service to a friend. If you’ve made less than $58,000 this year, IRS FreeFile is definitely worth looking into.

CompleteTax Premium Online

CompleteTax isn’t as recognizable a name as TurboTax or H&R Block but the software was developed by CCH, a group of tax law professionals that has been around since 1913.

CompleteTax’s prices are competitive with the other online services and offers an extremely comprehensive review process. However, the main complaint about the software is its look. Unlike TurboTax or the other big players, which have invested heavily in modern design principles to appeal to a more tech-savvy generation of users, CompleteTax is a bit outdated.

What is your favorite tax software?

– By Jessica Oaks

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