5 Best Tax Software Programs: In-Depth Reviews [2021]

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You don’t have to spend $100’s during tax season to hire a professional accountant to do your taxes.

If you earn less than $72,000, then you may be eligible for free tax assistance from the IRS.

Now, remember that the IRS is not the only place where you can receive free tax advice.

I’ve compiled a list of 5 of the best tax software programs that can help you put together your taxes for free.

Sneak Peek: Best Tax Software 2021

Most User-friendly Tax Software: TurboTax

MMW Rating
4.8/5

Best for Simple Tax Situations: H&R Block

MMW Rating
4.8/5

Best Free Tax Software: Credit Karma Tax

MMW Rating
3.5/5

Accuracy Guarantee: TaxAct

MMW Rating
3/5

Most Cost-Efficient Tax Software: TaxSlayer

MMW Rating
3.5/5

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s first take a general look at what each tax software offers.

TurboTax H&R Block Credit Karma Tax TaxAct TaxSlayer

Free Version

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Free Version Federal vs. State Tax

Federal: $0

State: $0

Federal: $0

State: $0

Federal: $0

State: $0

Federal: $0

State: $19.95

Federal: $0

State: $0

Paid Version Federal vs. State Tax

Federal: $60 to $90

State: $50

Federal: $49.99 to $69.99

State: $44.99

N/A

Federal: $44.95 to $69.95

State: $54.95

Federal: $24.95 to $44.95

State: $39.95

Cost for Self Employed Taxes

Federal: $120

State: $50

Federal: $109.99

State: $44.99

N/A

Federal: $79.95

State: $54.95

Federal: $54.95

State: $39.95

Audit Support

Yes (free)

Yes (free)

Yes (free)

Yes (just FAQs)

Free if you buy the Premium and Self-Employed packages

Audit Defense

Yes (at a cost)

Yes (at a cost)

Yes (free)

Yes (at a cost)

Yes (at a cost, if you buy SecurelyID, which is bundled with an audit defense product)

Can You Chat with a Tax Pro?

Yes, on-demand (at a cost)

Yes, on-demand (at a cost)

No

Yes, on-demand (at a cost)

No

Best For

Usability

In-Person Appointments

Completely Free

Accuracy Guarantee

Cost Efficiency

Now that you have a brief overview of what to expect, let’s dive right in.

Most User-Friendly Tax Software: TurboTax

MMW Rating
4.8/5

TurboTax is arguably the most popular tax software program out there.

In fact, when I first started filing my taxes – before I was even introduced into the personal finance community – I used TurboTax to do my own taxes.

And, I can say from personal experience, this is a user-friendly, simple and accurate way to e-file and complete your tax return.

Let’s take a look at some of the TurboTax pros and cons:

Pros Cons

User friendly

More expensive than most other tax software programs

Offers free version

Very limited tax support unless you upgrade to the paid version

5-star user experience

May find better value in other paid tax software program versions

Ability to upgrade to paid version

Free version does not offer itemized deductions or deductions for student loan borrowers

Offers on-demand tax support with paid version

Below are some TurboTax key features that you should consider:

TurboTax Key Features

Good for Millennials

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Usability

In-Person Support

N/A

Mobile Option

Cost

Customer Service

TurboTax Review


TurboTax is a tax software program for those who have simple tax situations. The free version is likely one of the best, most complete versions available.

If you want extra on-demand customer support, then you may want to consider upgrading the paid version, which could be a little pricier compared to the other tax filing software programs out there.

TurboTax Features

Year Founded

1984

Free Version

Yes

Live & on-demand tax professional support?

Yes

Types of Support Offered

  • FAQs
  • CPA support
  • Online Community
  • TurboTax Specialists
  • One-on-one support

Cool Features

  • Live update of your refund
  • Automatically upload your tax documents

Integration with Previous Years’ Returns

Yes

When you Should Take the Free Version

  • W2 document
  • Basic tax situation

Versions Offered

  • Free Plan
  • Deluxe Plan 
  • Premier Plan
  • Self Employed Plan

Country Availability

United States

Overseas for US citizens or resident filing taxes

Let’s take a look at who should consider TurboTax.

Consider TurboTax if:

  • You have a simple tax situation
  • You’re inexperienced with tax filing
  • You don’t want to spend $100’s on an accountant
  • You don’t want the hassle of meeting your CPA face-to-face
  • You want a step-by-step guide on how to fill out your taxes properly

What I find neat about TurboTax is that the tax software uses a Q&A interview style to gather your tax information. 

Although it will take some time to input your personal information, you won’t be asked difficult tax questions about your situation. 

That’s because of TurboTax’s emphasis on using plain English and as opposed to complicated tax jargon.

TurboTax is the perfect place for novice tax filers with simple tax situations.

fiona jpg

The Bottom Line:

If you’re a millennial, you have a simple tax situation and you’re not in the mood to meet your accountant face-to-face and spend potentially hundreds of dollars, then TurboTax could be the best option for you.

Best for Simple Tax Situations: H&R Block

MMW Rating
4.8/5

H&R Block is arguably the second most popular tax software program, after TurboTax. 

My favorite feature of H&R Block is that you have the option to make an in-person appointment with a live accountant if you want. 

For those of you who want to have the option of meeting someone face-to-face instead of just relying on video conferences, H&R Block might be the right option for you.

Let’s take a look at some of the H&R Block pros and cons:

Pros Cons

Less expensive than TurboTax

Mobile app version is not as compatible

Ability to upgrade to paid version

Free version offers limited live tax support

12,000+ office locations for walk-in help

Tax software is not as user friendly as TurboTax

Offers on-demand tax support with paid version

No guarantee that you will talk to a CPA with the Online Assist package

Can file taxes either virtually or in a tax pro’s office

Free version offers more features than other competitors

Below are some H&R Block key features that you should consider:

H&R Block Key Features

Good for Millennials

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Usability

In-Person Support

Mobile Option

Cost

Customer Service

H&R Block Review


H&R Block is a tax software program for those who want to have the option of either filing their taxes online or filing their taxes in the office.

With over 12,000 offices, H&R Block delivers this option with ease. The free version is good for filing your taxes if your situation is simple.

However, the more complex your situation, the more likely you should consider getting the upgraded version. 

Relative to the service and the competitors, H&R Block’s paid version is one of the most cost-effective on the marketplace.

H&R Block Features

Year Founded

1955

Free Version

Yes

Live & on-demand tax professional support?

Yes (in paid version)

Types of Support Offered

  • Expert Articles (Free)
  • Technical support via chat or phone (Paid package)
  • Online Assist (Paid package)

Cool Features

  • Show My Refund 
  • Upload your tax documents
  • Amazon Gift Card
  • Deluxe Online Version & Live Support
  • Audit Support Guarantee

Integration with Previous Years’ Returns

Yes

When you Should Take the Free Version

  • W2 document
  • Child tax credit 
  • Basic tax situation
  • Student loan interest
  • Unemployment income
  • Tuition and/or fee expenses

Versions Offered

  • Free Online
  • Deluxe Online 
  • Premium Online
  • Self Employed Online

Country Availability

  • India
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • Puerto Rico
  • United States
  • Overseas, if you are an expat, US citizen, or resident filing taxes

Let’s take a look at who should consider H&R Block. 

Consider H&R Block if:

  • If you want to file taxes either in-person or online
  • If you want a free e-file version that is more comprehensive
  • If you want to save money on excellent tax preparation software

I’m a major fan of H&R Block’s flexibility because you can either elect to file your taxes online or in one of their 12,000+ offices – worldwide.

H&R Block – be it the free or the paid version – is an excellent option for any millennial who is filing their taxes.

fiona jpg

The Bottom Line:

If you want to keep your options open to either filing in-person or online, H&R Block is the best bet for you. Plus, if you think you may want to upgrade to the paid version, then H&R Block offers the best price relative to the services.

Best Free Tax Software: Credit Karma Tax

MMW Rating
3.5/5

Credit Karma Tax is arguably the best, completely free tax software program.

Keep in mind that you often get what you pay for, so with Credit Karma Tax, you may not be getting all the bells and whistles that you get with other tax filing software programs like TurboTax and H&R Block, which have the option of upgrading to a paid version.

Let’s take a look at some of the Credit Karma Tax pros and cons:

Pros Cons

Mobile phone access

No tax pro support

Easy-to-use interface

Limited imports for W2 forms

Completely free filing

Limited amount of forms available

Offers free audit defense support

No ability to import interest data or investment data

You can import information from other tax software programs

Below are some Credit Karma Tax key features that you should consider:

Credit Karma Tax Key Features

Good for Millennials

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Usability

In-Person Support

N/A

Mobile Option

Cost

⭐⭐⭐

Customer Service

N/A

Credit Karma Tax Review


Credit Karma Tax is an online tax filing software that is completely free to anyone who uses it. It’s easy to use and it’s easy to input data.

However, you get what you pay for, so don’t expect any expert tax help, phone support or the ability to import and include all of your tax forms.

Credit Karma Tax Features

Year Founded

2007

Free Version

Yes

Live & on-demand tax professional support?

No

Types of Support Offered

None

Cool Features

  • Audit Defense 
  • Gift Cards

Integration with Previous Years’ Returns

Yes

When you Should Take the Free Version

  • State filing
  • Schedule C 
  • Most 1099’s 
  • W2 document
  • Most other IRS tax documents

Versions Offered

Free Online

Country Availability

United States

Let’s take a look at who should consider Credit Karma Tax. 

Consider Credit Karma Tax if:

  • Your tax situation is fairly simple
  • You don’t need help from a tax pro
  • You are a more experienced tax filer
  • You want completely free tax software

I’m just a major fan of the word “free.” Although I know there is no such thing as a free lunch, Credit Karma Tax comes close. 

As long as this is not your first tax filing rodeo and as long as your tax situation is not as complicated, then you should consider Credit Karma Tax.

With Credit Karma Tax, you receive all tax filing services for free – as long as you don’t need help from tax pros and your tax situation is straightforward.

fiona jpg

The Bottom Line:

If you have a simple tax situation (or are filing a Schedule C, if you run your own business), want to use the most comprehensive and free tax version – and this isn’t your first tax filing rodeo, then Credit Karma Tax may be the right option for you.

Accuracy Guarantee: TaxAct

MMW Rating
3/5

TaxAct is a well-known tax software program that offers both a free and a paid version.

Let’s take a look at some of the TaxAct pros and cons:

Pros Cons

Mobile phone access

Not as streamlined as competitors

Easy-to-use interface

Does not offer comprehensive features

More affordable than other tax software programs

If you file state returns, expect to pay more

If paying, then TaxAct Xpert will give you advice from a tax pro

You're insured up to $100,000 for any errors made by TaxAct professionals

Below are some TaxAct key features that you should consider:

TaxAct Key Features

Good for Millennials

⭐⭐

Usability

In-Person Support