Online Tax Software Recommendations

Are you looking for the best way to file your own taxes? Do you want to save your money and do them yourself instead of paying for an overpriced accountant? There are a variety of online tax software programs that can walk you through everything you'll need in order to file your own taxes.

Since there are so many different options to consider, we have reviewed five of the best online tax software programs for you. After reading our reviews, you'll be able to find the best option to meet your needs and get your taxes filed.

Top 5: Online Tax Software Review

Recommendation #1



Recommendation #2

H&R Block


Recommendation #3



Recommendation #4

Jackson Hewitt


Recommendation #5

Credit Karma



TurboTax offers a variety of software options that you can download or install using a CD. Your tax needs will help you determine which software option is right for you. The four options they offer are: Basic, Deluxe, Premier, and Home & Business.

The basic option, which is the least expensive, is designed to help those with less complex returns. It includes five federal e-files, but downloading state forms will cost extra money. This option will help guide you through entering all the information you'll need to complete your taxes and will allow you to import information like W-2s, investments, and your information from last year's tax return.


If you are looking to get the most out of your deductions, TurboTax recommends upgrading to the Deluxe version. In addition to the features included in the basic version, this option will help you identify the value for items you donated and will help you identify and choose from more than 350 deductions you may be eligible for. This option also includes a free download of one state form.

With the Premier version, you will enjoy additional features and support. This version will help with entering information related to investments and will provide you with help related to retirement taxes. With the Premier version, you can also receive personalized advice to help you understand your taxes and get the most out of your next refund.

If you are self-employed, consider the Home and Business version. In addition to all the features offered by the other versions, this option will make it easier for people who are self-employed to enter deductions. It can also help to create W-2 and 1099 forms if you have employees that work for you.


If you're not sure which software option is right for you, visit their website. You can select the different options that apply to you, and TurboTax will recommend the product that they think is best for your situation.

To keep your information secure, TurboTax uses a variety of features. They offer multi-factor authentication and Touch ID (on the mobile app) to help ensure that you are the only one who has access to your personal information.

When you use TurboTax, you'll also be able to contact their product support team. They can help walk you through any questions you have about the program or your specific situation.


  • There are four different versions to help you meet your specific tax needs.
  • You can visit their website to enter a little information about yourself in order to determine which version is best for you.
  • There is a support team available to help you with using the program.


  • Unless you have a very simple return, you'll need to purchase one of the more expensive options.
H&R Block

H&R Block can help you find the perfect program option to meet your needs. They offer four different versions of tax software that range in price. Their website can help you select which program is best for you; all you'll need to do is click on the items that describe you and your situation like whether you have kids, own rental properties, are self-employed, or have investments.

The first software version offered by H&R block is the Free Online version. This is a great option if you have a pretty basic return and are not a homeowner.

The Deluxe Online version is the next step up. This version is geared towards people who own their own homes, have made charitable donations, or have an HSA.

H&R Block

If you are a freelancer, investor, or freelancer, consider purchasing the Premium Online version. This version costs just a little more than the Deluxe Online version, but is more tailored towards the individuals in these groups.

Finally, the self-employed version is recommended for people who own their own businesses or are self-employed. This is the most expensive option, but will really simplify small business returns.

When you choose to use any of the versions offered by H&R block, you'll be able to access a professional using live chat. You can share your screen with them, so they can help answer any questions you have about your tax return. There is an additional fee for this service, but if you are having trouble with the software it could be very useful.

H&R Block's software is protected by Tax Identify Shield to keep your information secure. They also offer online data security. When you use this software, you'll be able to see the amount of your refund in real time.


  • Your information is protected with Tax Identity Shield.
  • If you have a very basic return, there is a free online version you can use.
  • The different versions are designed to simplify the process for various groups of individuals with different tax preparation needs.


  • Using the live chat option will cost extra.

When you use TaxSlayer, you are guaranteed to receive your maximum refund. This program also offers a 100% accuracy guarantee. TaxSlayer offers five different software options for you to choose from.

The first option is Simply Free. This option includes your state return and is best for people who are single, married and filing jointly, or student. There are no fees associated with this option.

The next option is called Classic. This version is designed to be used by individuals with all types of tax needs. Filing a state return will require an additional fee with this option.


The Premium option includes all the features of the classic option, but also provides you priority support from the TaxSlayer team. This can help you get your return done more quickly and feel confident that it is error-free. There is also an additional fee for filing a state return with this option.

If you are self-employed, you can choose the Self-Employed version. This option will help you enter all the information you'll need to report self-employment income and enter your deductions. Again, you will need to pay an additional fee to file a state return.

Finally, the last version is designed to provide you with complete confidence about your return. This version is called Ultimate. When you purchase this program, you will also receive defense and protection in the event you get audited.


  • TaxSlayer offers a 100% accuracy guarantee.
  • If you sign up for the Ultimate version, you'll also receive defense against an audit.
  • With five versions, you'll be able to choose the perfect match for your needs.


  • If you have any dependents, you won't be able to use the free version.
Jackson Hewitt

Jackson Hewitt's programs come with a satisfaction guarantee. They will allow you to easily fill out your return and file it online. Jackson Hewitt has three main software versions for you to choose from.

The first option is designed for people who make less than $100,000, are single or filing jointly with their spouse, have no dependents, and are only taking the standard deduction. This option will allow you to sign up and file your returns for free.

The second option is moderately priced. It is designed for families, those with dependents, people who have student loans, and retirees.

Jackson Hewitt

The final option, which is the best for those who have more complex tax returns, is a little more expensive. People who make over $100,000, are self-employed, own a rental property, or plan to list itemized deductions should consider this option.

All three of the options offered by Jackson Hewitt will provide you with step-by-step directions for filling in each form. They also come with a 100% accuracy guarantee and a maximum refund guarantee. You will also have access to unlimited online support to help you understand and complete the various tax forms.


  • A 100% accuracy guarantee and maximum refund guarantee are included with each option.
  • There is unlimited online support available when you need it.
  • Jackson Hewitt's software can auto-complete your state returns.


  • There are not as many software versions to choose from as some other companies.
Credit Karma

With Credit Karma, you won't need to worry about any hidden fees or extra charges. Filing both federal and state taxes is free with this service. They also offer a guarantee that their calculations are accuracy.

Even though this service does not cost anything, you'll still be able to use it to file more complex returns. With other options, only the most basic returns can be filed for free. With Credit Karma, everything is free. If you decide to use Credit Karma for your taxes, you will also need to sign up for the credit reporting service they offer.

Credit Karma

Using Credit Karma's software is easy. It has a variety of features that you'll enjoy, such as allowing you to import you W-2 and auto-filing your information. The software will ask you question to make sure that you have included everything that you need in your return.


  • Filing any type of tax return is completely free.
  • There are user-friendly features such as auto-fill and W-2 importation.
  • You will be asked questions as you complete your return to help you make sure all the necessary components are included.


  • If you get audited, there will not be any support available for you.

Buying Guide

Using an online tax software can make it easy to file your taxes on your own. Most programs will walk you through inputting all of the information you'll need to determine the amount you'll owe or the amount of your refund. In addition to being easy to use, using a software program can save you money since you won't need to pay someone else to prepare and file your taxes for you.

When looking for the right tax software program, there are a few features you'll want to consider and compare across the different options that you are considering. First, look for an option that is easy to use. Finding a program that will guide you through what you need to do is important, especially if you don't have a lot of tax knowledge.

Next, be sure to choose a program that will meet your tax needs. For example, if you are self-employed, choose an option that is more tailored towards small businesses and free lancers.

Some software programs will notice when you make an obvious error (such as writing an amount in a box where it doesn't belong). They can stop you from being able to move on until you correct this error. This feature can help make sure your taxes are error-free.

If you can, try to choose an option that offers audit support. This means, that if you get audited by the IRS, the software company will be able to walk you through the steps of responding to the audit.

Finally, pick a product that is reasonably priced and doesn't charge crazy filing fees. There is no need to waste extra money when you are filing your own taxes in order to save money.

Best online tax software

TurboTax is our top pick for online tax software. We like that there are four different options you can choose from depending on your tax needs. This will help ensure that you only pay for what you need.

TurboTax's website can also help to make it easy to decide which program option is right for you. Just select a little information about yourself, and it can make a recommendation for you. This can save you some of the hassle of reading the descriptions for each product and trying to determine which is the best option for you.


TurboTax's software is also easy to use. It will help guide you through filling out the various forms you need to complete. It will also help to alert you to any errors you may have made when completing the form.

Visit TurboTax's website today to place your order so you'll be ready to get your taxes done and filed!

What option is for you?

Filing Taxes: The Choice between DIY, Online Tax Software and an Accounting Expert

Every year, taxpayers have to worry about filing tax returns. We all have different approaches to filing our tax returns. Some people prefer hiring accounting professionals to do the job for them. Others prefer to do it themselves manually or through tax software. The approach one takes depends on several underlying factors. You may consider time, convenience, cost, income levels and complexity, and tax knowledge. Most people that do their own taxes generally have an understanding of tax law. They also have simple income structures. Those opting to hire professionals tend to have complex sources of income, high income levels, and less time on their hands to do the filing. Each alternative has its benefits and demerits. The choice would therefore vary based on an individual’s circumstances.

Doing Your Own Taxes

Certain situations require an accountant to file your taxes. However, for most of the time, an accountant would be unnecessary. It is an avoidable extra cost. Some basic understanding of tax laws would help you do your taxes effectively. The following are situations in which you can prepare your own taxes include.

When you have a fairly simple tax situation
When you possess some general knowledge on income taxes
When you have a fairly low income
When you can easily access technical assistance
When you have time
When you keen on details

For employed taxpayers, filing tax returns can be fairly simple. Even if you also have interest and dividend income, the tax situation is manageable at an individual level. You do not need to hire an accountant. All you need is the W-2 form to be able to fill your tax form. You will need to provide information about your other incomes from interest and dividends as well as the deductions. The process is quite straightforward and does not require any technical expertise.

Doing your taxes is ideal for individuals that have a good understanding of income tax laws. Knowledge in income taxes means you are able to navigate through the process of filing taxes without any hassle. You will be able to provide all the information as required and it is unlikely that you will get stranded along the way. As long as you fully understand what you are doing, it will be better to do the taxes yourself rather than hire an expert. However, if you get to a point you do not understand something, you will be better off consulting someone that is knowledgeable in that area. Mistakes could land you into trouble with the tax authorities.

Doing your taxes is ideal for individuals that have a good understanding of income tax laws. Knowledge in income taxes means you are able to navigate through the process of filing taxes without any hassle. You will be able to provide all the information as required and it is unlikely that you will get stranded along the way. As long as you fully understand what you are doing, it will be better to do the taxes yourself rather than hire an expert. However, if you get to a point you do not understand something, you will be better off consulting someone that is knowledgeable in that area. Mistakes could land you into trouble with the tax authorities.

Certain levels of income require more work. However, if you have a fairly low income, then your taxes will not require a lot. The likelihood of an IRS audit would also be low if your income is lower than $50,000. It would therefore be ideal to do taxes on your own under such circumstances. An accountant would be unnecessary since it will be an extra cost for little work.

Tax returns require a certain level of accuracy. One cannot blow through the exercise as it may lead to errors that have a huge effect. Therefore, one needs a certain level of attention to be able to carry out this task. If you are keen on detail, then you will do well filing your returns. That is because you will be able to give each item the due attention it deserves. You will ensure your work is accurate and you will go through it before submitting to ensure everything is in order. Such a detailed mindset will help you avoid the extra cost of hiring someone else for the job.

One reason people with some tax knowledge hire accountants is the lack of time. Sometimes, one may have the skills to do something but lack the time. They have to hire someone else to perform the task despite them having sufficient knowledge and skills to carry out the task effectively. Income tax requires patience. That is because it takes some time to complete the forms. Where a taxpayer has the time, they can prepare their tax returns. However, the availability of time has to go hand in hand with ability to file the returns. Otherwise, time without the knowledge means you cannot do your taxes on your own.

Hiring an Accountant

Not all situations will allow you to do your taxes yourself. Some can be a nightmare and only an expert can help you. It is advisable to hire an accountant on occasions where doing it on your own would not yield the best outcomes. Some of the circumstances under which you need to hire an accountant include:

When you have a complicated tax situation
When you are under self-employment
When your knowledge of income taxes is little to none
When you have not time
When you income level is high
When You Have Dependents

An accountant is necessary for situations with complex tax issues. Where, as a taxpayer, you do not understand some tax issue, it is advisable to hire someone conversant with it to help you. Sometimes, your taxes involve issues on large capital transactions, net operating losses, K-1s due from partnerships of S-Corporations, and appreciated assets as gifts. Such transactions involve complex tax treatments and require someone with a deep understanding of tax regulations. Doing your taxes may result in mistakes that may be trouble to you.

Sometimes, you may ordinarily have a simple tax situation. However, you may an occasional complication that would complicate your taxes. For instance, a sale of property, asset inheritance or an early pension distribution may make your tax situation complex. Life events such as inheritance and divorce may affect your tax situation. The complexity of such an instance would necessitate the use of an accountant’s services. An accountant would be in a position to know how to treat such transactions in accordance to regulations. Doing it yourself may end up putting you in a fix that could be costly.

Investments form a big part of our lives. Many people invest in stock or bonds. With 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans and retirement accounts, your money can grow tax-free. That adds some complexity to your situation. When you also own investments that yield taxable returns such as dividends, your taxes become trickier. You have to have all the tax forms that the IRS has from your brokerage to file your returns. In case of an investment sale, you have to establish your cost basis for the investment. That will help determine your loss or gain, which ultimately affects your taxes. Investments in other assets such as gold and cryptocurrencies can have a huge impact on your taxes too. You may not be in a position to tackle all these issues on your own. Thus, it is necessary to hire an accountant to help you.

Income from self-employment requires more detail in terms of taxes. You will need to provide details about your costs and expenses. You may need to know the tax treatment of various items that contribute to your income. Unlike full-time employees, a self-employed individual can make work-related deductions for tax purposes. That can be a whole load to process and understand. In such circumstances, it is better to have an accountant that already knows how to treat all the items. Hiring an accountant would relieve you of the struggle to understand each little detail about the tax issues. You will enjoy peace of mind, knowing that you do not have to worry about mistakes in your tax forms.

By now, you probably know that knowledge of tax laws is crucial in preparing your taxes. Therefore, limited or zero knowledge would be detrimental to someone trying to file returns. It would be an exercise in futility as it may result in bigger issues. Mistakes in your tax return forms could attract the attention of tax authorities. Nobody wants the scrutiny of the IRS on their affairs. To avoid all this trouble, get someone that knows how to navigate through the different tax issues without making mistakes. You are better off paying a fee for the services than facing hefty fines from the tax authorities.

Time plays a big part in your decision to hire an accountant. Preparing taxes needs time. You have to be patient to sort out your taxes. Sometimes you have to reconcile different items contributing to your income. For a busy person, time is a valuable commodity. Spending too much time working out taxes may not be ideal. Incurring a small cost to procure the services of a tax consultant to do your taxes may not be a bad idea if you need to spend that time on other things. It does not matter whether you are adept in tax matters or not. If you have little time, then the best option would be to hire someone for the job.

High incomes attract tax audits. The higher your income rises, the more attention you attract from tax authorities. You may have a simple tax situation, but the attention you get from tax authorities may call for an accountant to work on your taxes. That provides you independent representation in case the authorities come poking around. Having a qualified person do your taxes cushions you against unnecessary run-ins with the tax agencies. It ensures you are safe from potential fines resulting from tax audits that may unearth errors in your tax computations and declarations.

Dependents complicate your tax situation. For children, they yield tax deductions that vary over the years. In a child’s early years, you are eligible for deductions on qualified childcare costs. However, these deductions have a limit. The calculations become more complex as the children reach college-going ages. Tax regulations exempt interest on money you set aside for tuition under a 529 plan. You can later take advantage of the education and fees deduction to bring down your tax liability. Tax professionals will be in a good position to advise you on how to navigate the complications arising due to dependents. They will be able to guide you on claiming qualified expenses on education.

Benefits of Doing Your Own Taxes

Although preparing your own taxes can be tasking, it has its merits. Cumulatively, the benefits can tilt the scale to convince you to acquire the necessary skills to do the job yourself. Some of the key benefits include:

• It helps you save money
• It saves time for you
• It helps you develop financial self-awareness
• It helps you avoid potential tax audits
• It allows you to access the tax returns from previous years
• It provides instant filing and prompt refunds

Saving Money

Accountants offer an important and invaluable service. However, the service comes at a cost. Different accountants charge differently depending on several factors. On average, tax preparers charge $246 for an itemized 1040, Schedule A and a state return tax. However, you can eliminate this cost by doing your taxes on your own. Using a tax app significantly lowers this cost. For example, using an app like TurboTax to file returns would cost $39.99 on average with an additional $36.99 for those filing state tax. That gives you over $150 in savings. Tax preparers charge more for each extra form. The complexity of the tax situation also contributes the fee. Therefore, eliminating accountants from the equation would free up a significant amount of money for you. You can use either online tax software or apps to file your taxes to minimize or eliminate costs.

Saving Time

One argument for hiring an accountant to do your taxes is that it saves time. However, doing it yourself actually saves you time. First, you do not have to make calls to schedule appointments. You also do not have to visit the accountant’s office to take your paperwork. Preparing your taxes reduces the amount of time you need for these activities. Unlike hiring a tax preparer, you also do not need to wait for anyone to call back and give you information about your tax position or refunds. You get all the information instantly and you can correct any errors on the spot. You do not need any back and forth communication.

Hiring someone also involves a search to find the best accountant for your needs. However, that wastes valuable time. Using an online software or app for your taxes can give the same results as a good accountant. You do not need to spend your time looking for an appropriate accountant. The apps and software can help you get large refunds.

As you prepare your taxes, it is important to maintain some order in your paperwork. When you engage someone else for the job, you will have to take the paperwork to them. Sometimes, some of the documents get misplaced. It may take a lot of time to find those documents and reorganize everything. Taking care of your taxes eliminates this unnecessary trouble. You will have all your documents in one place and in the right order. You will therefore spend less time trying to locate documents.

Financial Self-Awareness

Sometimes having people do things for you breeds ignorance. For taxes, you become blind to your financial situation. Although you may have a general idea of your incomes, expenditure, assets and liabilities, you never really get to have a closer and more detailed look at all that information. The person you hire is the one that gets that clear picture. When you work on your taxes, you are able to see all this clearly and discern areas you may want to change going into the future. Filing taxes exposes you to the consequences of all your financial choices. You do not just get the resultant tax position alone. You get to see what caused a given tax effect. That helps you determine the course of action to take to improve your financial position. It can help you in setting financial goals for coming years.

Avoiding Tax Audits

Accountants constantly try to get their clients the largest refund possible. They use refunds to drive their popularity to increase the likelihood of getting clients. However, that can be risky to the client. The outcome may be an undesired audit. Although it may not be common, accountants may go for write-offs and other actions that result in lower taxes and higher refunds. That attracts unnecessary attention. Data indicates that audited taxpayers account for about 1%-2% of all taxpayers. You can avoid being part of this statistic by doing your taxes diligently.

Using a tax software may help you avoid audits. Doing your returns on physical forms may not yield the best outcomes at times. That is because it is prone to human errors. Unlike tax software and apps that prompt you to provide certain information, one can easily forget some detail when filling physical forms. You can also get your math wrong even when you fill the right information. According to the IRS, there were almost 2 million math errors on individual tax returns for the year 2018. That is a significant number suggesting that many people make errors in their taxes. Such errors are causes for tax audits. Although audits may result from your tax filing, doing your own taxes reduces the risk as you do not have the pressure to generate huge refunds like accountants do.

Accessing Previous tax returns

Another advantage of doing your taxes is that you get to keep a record of your returns from the previous year. Whether you use a physical form or an online software or app, you will be able to retrieve your returns and have a look at them conveniently. If you are using an online tax product, it can retrieve your information from the previous year and use it to get you started. You will only have to edit a few things that may have changed over the year. That saves you time as you do not have to fill everything afresh. As long as your income does not change much, there is little change to effect in your entries. Unlike accountants that will require you to send them all the paperwork for the current tax year under review, doing your taxes allows you to start from information you already have and build from there. However, you need to be careful not to omit any relevant and material changes in your tax situation. That may lead to a confrontation with the tax authorities.

Instant Filing and Prompt Refunds

When filing your taxes, communication is instant and direct to you. You get immediate notifications about the receipt of your returns. The process is even faster if you are using a tax software or app. Unlike hiring an accountant, you do not have to wait on someone to provide you with the information about your tax returns. You instantly see the acceptance of your entries and the refunds. If you are using an online software, you also get your refunds promptly.

Arguments for Hiring an Accountant

There have always been some strong arguments for the use of tax experts to do your taxes. However, overtime, these arguments have become weaker. That is because the use of technology has provided taxpayers with the same benefits they would have derived from accountants. Some of the common arguments for hiring accountants include:

• Accountants are up to date on tax laws
• Accountants provide an extra eye to avoid errors
• Accountants provide expert advice
• Accountants provide tax guidance all year round

However, these points do not suffice in the modern era. Tax software and online platforms provide most of the services that accountants do. For instance, most tax software is based on tax law. There are CPAs dedicated to updating the throughout the year, ensuring they are up to date. Thus, a taxpayer can enjoy tax services based on updated tax information. Similarly, most online tax service providers have platforms where you can seek free expert advice. You do not even have to visit their offices. Asa user of their product, you get to enjoy free tax advice at any time. That eliminates the need for an accountant on the basis of expert advice.

While it is true that you need an extra set of eyes, that aspect of accountants has been overtaken by tax software. The software is programmed such that it rejects certain entries. Thus, it stops you from making certain errors. Such software also has questions that guide you along as you fill different tax forms.

The IRS Website

The IRS has a platform through which you can file your tax returns. It provides an option to print out forms that you can fill and post via mail. However, it encourages people to do their filing online. The IRS filing portal is free and has a list of qualified tax preparers that can provide federal filing services free. The free services are for those with incomes below $69,000. However, for those exceeding $69,000, they can still access the free services if their income is straightforward. For complex income situations, you will have to pay for an online tax software. As a taxpayer wishing to file your own returns, the IRS website would therefore be a good option as it is free. It also offers you necessary guidance to ensure you file your returns correctly.

Tax Software

There is a variety of online software that you can use for your tax needs. Some of the software are quite inexpensive, ranging between $30 and $40. However, the cost varies depending on several factors. The complexity of the taxes can increase the cost up to $100. Similarly, the need to file both federal and state taxes significantly increases the charge for the software. Some of the available software include TurboTax, TaxSlayer, H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, Credit Karma Tax Prep, eSmart Tax, Liberty Tax, WeVest, TaxAct and Rocket Dollar. You can also use the IRS platform, which is free. Each of these platforms has its strengths and weaknesses. They offer services at different rates based on different criteria. They have teams that ensure the software is up to date with current tax legislation so that they offer you the services you need as per the law.

Making the Choice

Online tax software has eased the tax preparation process. Taxpayers do not have to worry so much about the nitty gritty details of tax. The software guides them through the process. That has elicited questions on the need to hire accountants to do your taxes. There are compelling arguments for and against using accountants. The arguments are around the cost, professional expertise, availability of time and complexity of your tax situations. Several factors will determine your choice either to hire a tax preparer or to do it yourself. Many people are shifting to online software because of convenience and cost. However, as an individual, you need to consider your circumstances before making the final decision. Doing your taxes on your own may grant you some benefits, but it may also expose you to some risks that would lead you to trouble with the IRS. If your tax situation is complex and you do not have the prerequisite tax knowledge to effectively do your taxes, then you need to hire an accountant. However, if you feel confident about your skills and abilities, then you can use the tax software to do your taxes.

The IRS provides guidelines on how to go about your taxes. You can always consult its website in order to up date your knowledge.

Commonly Asked Questions

Are Online Tax Returns Safe?

Yes, using e-filing to file your taxes is safe. When you e-file your taxes, the date is encrypted to prevent hacking. It can be safer to use e-filing than physically mailing in your taxes since someone could open the envelope you mail.

Is It Easy to Do Your Own Taxes with a Software Program?

Depending on the complexity of your personal situation, an online tax software program can be very easy to use. Most of these options tell you exactly what information you'll need to complete the appropriate tax forms.

When Are Taxes Due?

April 15th is due the due date for taxes.

What Happens If You File Your Taxes Late?

If you file your taxes past the April 15th deadline, you will owe penalties. However, if you know your taxes will not be done in time, you can request an extension which will save you from needing to pay penalties.


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