Preparing your taxes every year can become a dizzying venture once you begin to survey the numerous options available. Every service claims to be the best—but what are the real pros and cons to each? What are the best options if you're recently married, self-employed, or own property? Finding a service isn't as cut-and-dried as finding the "best"—it's about discovering which one has the most options for you. We're taking an in-depth look at the three best-known tax filing services: TurboTax, H&R Block, and TaxAct. Every service is unique from the next, but finding the best one for you will take a little research. Depending on your unique living situation, certain options will be more favorable than others. Whether you're a tax expert or this is your first time filing, keep reading to see which service makes preparing your taxes the easiest.
The biggest plus about using TurboTax? It's incredibly user-friendly. Questions are straightforward, and the interface of the program is fluid and well-organized. If you're new to the wonderful world of filing taxes, then this is a great option to consider. There are, however, some drawbacks to using TurboTax. Out of the programs listed here, it's the priciest. Filing state and federal taxes are both free, but if your tax situation deviates in any way from the standard (for example, if you're self-employed), then upgraded versions of the program can climb up to $37 for state and $90 for federal. Take a look at their different packages. If your taxes are straightforward, this is definitely a top choice, but if you fall into one of the upgraded categories, you may want to consider other options.
H&R Block is one of the best-known tax-filing services around. Like TurboTax, its online filing service follows an interview-style format that's easy to understand. Another big plus is that you don't have to complete a profile in order to fill out your taxes—a must for TurboTax and TaxAct. H&R Block becomes more complicated than TurboTax when it comes to filling out the income portion, as the questions aren't quite as straightforward—something that could be confusing for the novice filer. The good news is that H&R Block provides in-person support during and after filing. They also provide the best refund bonus: 5% for free users and 10% for premium users. Basic filing is free, but the fee can climb up to $37 for state and $55 for federal if premium services are required.
First things first: TaxAct is hands down the cheapest option here. Basic state and federal tax filing are free, but even premium services only climb to $35 and $40, respectively. TaxAct is the smallest business of the three, so customer support is less readily available. The question-and-answer format is more exhaustive than either of the other two options, meaning that TaxAct can take the most time to complete and even be confusing for new filers. However, a plus is that TaxAct's system can keep your information on file for up to seven years, something available only to premium members on the other systems. Overall, if you have experience handling your taxes and think your situation might need a more complex filing option, TaxAct may best suit your needs.
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Filling out taxes as a freelancer? Read our guide for everything you should know about preparing your taxes.