When you are filing your taxes, you don’t want to worry about errors or incomplete forms. Filing as a military family is particularly complicated, as there are so many additional rules and exceptions.
To make things a little easier, we’re outlining several top tax-preparation software products. Review their key features and limitations to help you decide on the right one for your situation.
Many individuals and businesses consider TurboTax the best available tax software. The software is user-friendly and offers several key features.
If you’ve used TurboTax in the past, it will let you import your previous returns and will autofill your information. It also allows you to import your W-2 (if your employer is a TurboTax import partner), or you can snap a photo of it, and it will fill in your information for you.
You can choose from several TurboTax packages, depending on your needs and the complexity of your tax return. There is a free edition for those with simple returns, and there is even a TurboTax military discount.
The Deluxe package is their most popular, as it will search hundreds of deductions and credits to ensure you receive the maximum available. More advanced packages cover investments, including cryptocurrency and industry-specific deductions.
H&R Block offers do-it-yourself tax preparation software. Like TurboTax, they have a free online version for simple returns, as well as several paid products. These have similar features to TurboTax but at a lower cost.
This software also gives you W-2 Early Access. With this free service, you can have an electronic copy of your W-2 sent to any H&R Block office as soon as it’s available. Then, just bring two pieces of ID to pick it up.
If you’re not sure what information and forms you’ll need to prepare your tax return, you can use the checklist included in H&R Block’s software. You can view the complete list or answer a few questions and the software will create a custom list just for you.
TaxAct often offers discounts for early filers, so you can pick up a real bargain if you don’t wait until the end of tax season. Features include the ability to upload previous years’ returns and a deduction maximizer so you won’t miss any available credits. You’ll also find pro tips and a personalized tax plan to help you maximize your refund.
There is a free version available for simple federal tax returns (state returns are extra) and three additional professional TaxAct products: Deluxe, Premier and Self-Employed to fit your tax needs. The Deluxe package is their most popular and is designed with homeowners in mind.
You can also check the status of your return or track your refund.
E-file is a budget-friendly online tax software option. Plans start with a free version for federal tax return filing. Their Deluxe version is available for those with dependents, a mortgage or retirement income, and the Premium plan can help those with business income.
E-file promises to make the tax preparation process as painless as possible. Electronic filing also means you can receive your tax refund sooner. You can even pay E-file’s fees with your refund.
If you owe the IRS, you can authorize a funds withdrawal or pay by credit card, debit card or check.
FreeTaxUSA offers federal tax filing for free and charges a fee only for state tax returns. Besides the state returns, you can choose from a variety of other add-ons, for a fee, including a mailed printed return or unlimited amended returns.
They also have a deluxe package, which includes priority support, unlimited amended returns and assistance with audits.
You can use FreeTaxUSA for all tax situations, including home ownership, investments, rental income and small businesses. They guarantee the accuracy of your return and that you will receive the maximum refund. You can even import your prior year’s return to simplify the tax-preparation process.
Liberty Tax offers three tax preparation software solutions, depending on your individual needs. Unlike many of the other popular software options, there is no free package. The Basic package is intended for those with simple tax needs. Homeowners or those with dependents, college expenses or investments will benefit from the Deluxe package. The Premium package is for those who are self-employed.
Liberty Tax software comes with plenty of features, including audit assistance and free double-checking at participating locations. You can also upload a prior year’s return and your W-2 to auto-fill some of the information.
You also have several choices for how to receive your refund, including by check, direct deposit, by refund transfer or through a prepaid Mastercard. If you choose to receive a refund transfer, you can have the filing fees deducted from your refund.
Cash App Taxes (formerly Credit Karma Tax)a
In November 2020, Cash App acquired Credit Karma Tax and is moving to a new online platform starting in January 2022. Cash App Taxes includes free federal and state returns. It supports itemized deductions, capital gains and losses and even self-employment income.
You will need to download Cash App and create a free account in order to take advantage of their tax software.
Cash App Taxes promises to keep the same features and guarantees as Credit Karma. These include free audit defense and a maximum refund guarantee.
eSmart Tax is backed by Liberty Tax and also offers three software packages: Basic, Deluxe, and Premium. Like Liberty Tax’s online offerings, there is no free option available.
If you have a simple tax situation, the Basic software may fit your needs, especially since it does allow for itemized deductions. However, if you have dependents, investments or you own your own home, you will need the Deluxe version. The Premium software is for those who are self-employed.
You can import your last year’s return, as well as your W-2 form, to get started. eSmart Tax also offers several support options, including chat and email support. You can even access in-person support at some locations.
ezTaxReturn’s key feature is in the name. They promise a streamlined and easy online tax filing service. Federal returns are free for simple returns from qualifying taxpayers. The fee for everyone else is the same.
Filing your taxes involves three steps. First, create an account. Next, answer a series of questions. They complete all the forms based on your answers, and they guarantee their accuracy. Last, e-file your return and wait for your refund.
You can also purchase add-ons, such as receiving a printed copy of your return by mail, audit defense protection and amended returns. Consider that some of these services may be included in the price of other tax software options.
TaxSlayer offers four tax-preparation and filing services. Simply Free is a basic option that, as the name implies, is free for both federal and state tax returns. The Classic service works for all tax situations and includes all the forms and deductions.
You may want to pay more for the Premium service for the additional support and live chat. Those who are self-employed, whether freelance or small business owners, may benefit from the Self-Employed service, which includes audit defense and tax payment reminders.
The military tax-preparation service allows active-duty service members to file their federal returns for free. It covers all tax situations, all forms and all deductions. You can auto-fill portions of your return by importing your W-2 and last year’s taxes. You can also rest easy with their 100% accuracy guarantee and their IRS inquiry assistance for up to one year after you file your return.
Jackson Hewitt promises accurate returns and a maximum refund guarantee for your tax return. They offer step-by-step guidance in preparing your taxes, online customer support and free online storage of your returns for three years.
They have one fee for online tax filing for federal returns and unlimited state returns, regardless of your tax situation.
For one low, flat fee, regardless of your tax situation or required forms, you can use 1040.com’s tax preparation and filing program for both your state and federal taxes.
You can go directly to the forms you need, or answer their questions and let them figure out the forms and deductions that apply.
You can import your W-2 to auto-fill some of the information, and they’ll store your completed return for three years. They guarantee that the program is easy to use, accurate and will net you the maximum refund.
1040.com also promises that filing your taxes can feel good. They use some of their revenue to fund clean water projects.
OLT.com offers both a free and a premium edition of their software. All tax situations are covered by either edition, including homeowners, dependents, investments and self-employment.
The free version includes free federal tax filing and a low-fee for state returns. You can use it with all forms and schedules, and it includes customer support by email as well as the ability to import your previous year’s return.
The premium edition includes customer support by live chat or phone and audit support and a reduced rate for state returns.
You can use any of these tax-preparation and filing programs to help you file your taxes with less stress. Tax situations are individual, so consider your needs and the complexity of your personal situation, and find a solution that best fits.