For many Americans, tax season raises their anxiety and gives them that twitchy nervous feeling in their stomach, often worse than getting called into the principal’s office, is an audit from the IRS.
While some might be fastidious in saving receipts and gathering documents to complete their taxes, some people get to tax season before starting the process of sorting through papers to get their taxes done.
You might also debate whether I should use tax software and go it alone or pay big money and use an accountant or professional tax service? It’s one thing to have to do your taxes and another one to contemplate making a mistake. While the task of completing your taxes is a huge relief, it’s even more critical that they are done right.
Are you still worried about your 2020 taxes? Do you still need to get them done?
Consider skipping the expensive personal accountant and use one of these tax preparation software programs instead. Read on to learn about doing your taxes online using a tax software program. If you still need to do your taxes, let’s take a closer look at the best tax software on the market so you can get the job done.
The IRS offers links to free software to file taxes online and is a helpful resource to start with if you don’t want to purchase a tax program yet.
Are you one of those who think I can’t use tax preparation software and do my taxes myself, my taxes are too complicated? TurboTax Intuit is here to prove you wrong. This tax interface was built for the person who has simple taxes and needs to enter the information with little or no deductions to the person who has complicated taxes. And it works well for everyone in between. TurboTax Intuit comes in several formats, depending on your tax needs. If you already use Quickbooks for bookkeeping, TurboTax and Quickbooks interface, making it easy, especially for the self-employed.
TurboTax Deluxe a popular version of the program. It will automatically search for additional tax deductions and tax credits, so you get the biggest refund possible. The TurboTax Premier program is especially geared to those who have rental properties or investments.
Worried you might still need extra help or need questions answered? TurboTax anticipated this concern, and for a small additional fee gives you access to live personal support. They have certified tax professionals on call and online waiting to answer your questions. The MAX version even has a tax professional review your filing before it gets officially filed to the IRS.
As a bonus to the program, TurboTax offers:
- Identity theft coverage services
- Identity loss monitoring
- Insurance coverage
All these services come at a price that tends to cost a little more than some of its competitors. There is a free version. Some versions are up to $120, with an additional $45 for state filings. The amped-up versions can add between an additional $50 to $90.
H&R Block is another worth program consideration for tax preparation software. While it does lack a few of the features of TurboTax, it does have some true selling points. The program offers unlimited technical support for the tax filers using the application. For those using the higher-end versions of the H&R program, there is a phone and chat support available to answer questions.
The program features a resource center with articles to offer tax support and information. It also features a built-in tax calculator that helps you to see your tax situation.
Once you download their software, you can file your taxes online, via their app or in person. You can even import your previous year’s taxes from a competitor’s program to the H&R system.
H&R Block is so sure of their program they feature a 60-day, 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you choose to get your refund in the form on an Amazon gift card, you even get a 4% refund on the filing.
Filers do not get in-person support if there’s an audit. Higher levels of their program do offer those services. The program has a free version to $105 for federal filing and an additional $40 for state filing. H&R Block’s Tax Pro Review runs $145.
Liberty Tax is another option that offers several versions for an online tax filing. Liberty Tax offers a Basic, Deluxe, and Premium version. It might be surprising that each version has the same cost. The difference between them is the form and filing options you have when you use them. So, you need to have some knowledge of your filing needs.
The Deluxe and Premium versions offer more form options. Premium is an especially good option if you are self-employed.
One feature of Liberty worth noting is that no matter the version of the software you use, there is a laundry list of services provided. These include:
- Audit assistance
- Free return importing from competitors
- 100% accuracy guarantee
- Support via chat or email, or even in-person at more than 3,000 locations nationwide
Another reassuring version of the online Liberty platform is its guarantee. If you start online and have trouble, you can transfer to an in-person tax specialist to complete the filing. You can also visit one of their brick and mortar locations to have your online taxes checked by a tax professional.
Jackson Hewitt Online
Jackson Hewitt Online is another software option that features a simple online interface. It has similar features of its competitors, including:
- Ability to import taxes from competitors
- Tech support via live chat
- Free option
- Auto-completion of state returns
- Free audit assistance
There are a few features of Jackson Hewitt worth noting. It features a thorough collection of tax-related articles accessible through the program. The program features calculators that help tax filers to measure amortization and depreciation.
Jackson Hewitt also offers a plan they call their Worry-Free Guarantee plan. If Jackson Hewitt makes a mistake that causes you to receive a reduced refund from what you anticipate or you end up owing tax penalties you didn’t expect, they have you covered up to an amount based on your plan. The Worry-Free Guarantee Platinum tier even provides you with a personal tax specialist to represent your case if you face an audit.
The price tag on this option is a little lower than some others. They do feature a free version, while federal taxes start at $50 and $40 for the state taxes.
The TaxSlayer program’s bragging rights include being the least costly of all the programs featured. They feature a free version. The paid versions start at $47 for federal taxes and $29 for state taxes.
Whether you are using the free or paid version, there is tax advice available to all users through their educational tools. They also offer phone and email customer support.
Their higher tier package called TaxSlayer Premium features:
- Audit protections
- Assistance from tax professionals
- Live chat support
A few things to know about TaxSlayer for those who have unique tax filings. This program does not feature a built-in calculator for amortization and depreciation. For those who are self-employed, unfortunately, this program doesn’t feature audit protection for your filing either. If you are anxious about your refund, the major advantage of this program is that it offers an interest-free advance on your refund.
TaxAct is an option worth considering for its user support. No matter the level of program you select, you can get customer support.
They offer, depending on your tier, the following:
- Unlimited one-on-one phone help
- In-app chat support
- Screen-share capabilities
This program makes it easy to import your taxes from last year, even if you used a different application. If you do itemized tax deductions, their knowledge database helps guide you as a resource.
TaxAct is so sure of its program it features the $100,000 Accuracy Guarantee.
If you have a difference in liability or refund, IRS penalties, and interest, they pay the difference and cover up to $100,000 back for legal and audit costs. They will also refund you the cost of their program services. They feature a free version. Federal tax filings start at $80, and state filings are $40.
The best feature of FreeTaxUSA is that it is fairly low cost. However, it does require you to pay when you file your state taxes. You can also file an amended tax return from this program.
It can support most of the IRS forms.
The higher tier package offers users:
- Priority live chat and customer support
- Filing unlimited amended returns
- Access to its audit services
- Access to tax specialists
The price point for this program is enticing. Most can do their federal taxes for free and state taxes cost only $15.
Finding the Best Tax Software
If you are ready to tackle doing your taxes, these tax software programs offer you plenty of options to not only do them but get it right too. Whether you have a simple filing or one that’s itemized and more complicated, one of these programs can guide you through the 2020 tax filing process.
If you want more information on personal finance, we can help with that too. Visit our personal finance page full of resources available to you on handling your personal finances like a pro.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learn the tax software basics
How do tax programs work?
If you have previously done taxes before with paper forms, you know it involves focus, IRS tax forms, a pencil, and sometimes a bunch of erasing. What if I write the number wrong? What if I fill it in the wrong boxes? Worse yet, you realize you don’t have the right forms.
The nice thing about tax software programs is they eliminate those worries.
Instead, you create an online account. Because these forms contain personal information, program security is a must. You are asked to agree to the security terms of the program.
The program asks you a series of questions. You answer the item on the online platform. Then through a little magic (really a well-written program), the answers to your questions are put into the correct forms, and your taxes are complete.
You have the option to print or save. You can sign digitally or print and sign. Then it’s a matter of getting it all to the IRS, which the programs will also do for you electronically.
When is the 2020 tax season?
With the onslaught of COVID-19 this tax season is not like previous ones. Typically, tax season is wrapping up by the middle of April with the regular filing date of April 15.
2020 has proven to be anything but ordinary. COVID-19 has turned the world on its ear, with many struggling financially. And millions and millions of people quarantined at home.
For this reason, the IRS filing deadline usually on April 15 has been extended to July 15, 2020.
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