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Published: Feb 01, 2024 29 min read
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The best tax software can help you file your federal and state tax returns easily and without having to shell out big bucks. In fact, many online tax prep tools featured on this list are free for eligible customers and provide customer support for both novice and seasoned tax filers alike.

Your first step should be to check whether you qualify to file taxes for free through the IRS Free File program, which offers guided tax prep to anyone who made less $79,000 or less in the 2023 tax year. The program also offers free tax forms for anyone who made over $79,000 and prefers to file on their own.

Read through our list of the top tax software of 2024 to find a program that will help you file your taxes in a quick, accurate and budget-friendly manner.

Our Top Picks for the Best Tax Software of 2024

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Best Tax Software Reviews

Pros
  • Easy import for investment documents
  • Report cryptocurrency gains and losses
  • Free for active duty military and reservists
Cons
  • One of the most expensive online tax software
  • Filing anything beyond a simple tax return requires upgrade to paid plan

Why we chose it: We chose TurboTax as the best tax software for investors for its help with reporting sales of investment securities and funds earning, among other services included in its wide range of tax-filing products.

Intuit’s TurboTax is one of the best-known online tax prep software products out there. It’s also an excellent choice for investors, who may benefit from the software’s ability to import investing gains and losses from a variety of sources.

Some of the investment information that can be imported by TurboTax includes data on your traditional stocks, cryptocurrency, bonds, ESPPs, robo-investments and rental income. This makes it a great choice for anyone with a diverse portfolio.

TurboTax is only free for certain taxpayers for simple tax returns, meaning just Form 1040. (It recently got dinged by the Federal Trade Commission for marketing products as “free” when in reality the majority of taxpayers weren’t eligible to file for free.) This means the free version is not available for freelancers, business owners and other self-employed individuals who get a 1099 form.

Those who earn farm or rental income or have earnings from investments like stocks, bonds or crypto are also unable to file a simple tax return (and therefore aren’t eligible for TurboTax’s free tier). TurboTax also offers additional services, including a guided tax preparation tier called “Live Assisted” and its “Full Service” tier, the latter of which lets one of the company’s tax experts fill out your taxes for you.

Services

 Basic

Deluxe

Premium

Federal

*$0 for qualified users

$39 (likely to increase later)

$89 (likely to increase later)

State

*$0 for qualified users

$39 (likely to increase later)

$39 (likely to increase later)

TurboTax Live Assisted

$0 if filed by March 31

$89 (plus $39 state) (likely to increase later)

$169 (plus $39 state) (likely to increase later)

TurboTax Full Service

N/A

N/A

Starts at $89 (likely to increase later)

Pros
  • Option to file expat taxes online with an advisor
  • In-person, online and downloadable options
  • Multiple add-on products
Cons
  • Must pay for on-demand support
  • Schedule C only available in Self-Employed plan

Why we chose it: We chose H&R Block as the best tax software for multiple ways to file because it offers several ways to file your taxes, including e-filing on your own or with a tax professional.

H&R Block offers products comparable to those of its main competitor, TurboTax, but at a lower price point. As one of the leading tax software providers, it features a streamlined interface that's easy to navigate, comprehensive explanations on all tax forms and a clear step-by-step guide to help you file taxes on your own.

H&R Block’s free online filing option for simple returns is easy to use and offers the ability to import your previous year’s tax return from another provider. If you have a more complicated return, there are also other paid tax-filing software tiers, including "Deluxe," "Premium" and "File With a Tax Pro."

The company offers an option to file with a professional, either in person, online or by dropping off your documents at a local office. They also offer a hybrid feature called Tax Pro Review for those who prefer a DIY approach. After filing your own tax return, a tax professional will review it, providing an extra set of eyes.

H&R Block aims to help the growing number of taxpayers who have a Health Savings Account (HSA). These “triple tax-exempt” accounts are funded with tax-deductible contributions, and H&R Block offers to maximize deductions and credits for filers who have them. However, this service is only available through the company's paid tiers.

Services

Basic

Deluxe + State

Premium

Premium & Business

Federal

$25 but likely to increase later

$49 but likely to increase later

$75 but likely to increase later

$89 but likely to increase later

State

$39.95 ($19.95 for e-file)

*First personal state program included ($19.95 for e-file)

*First personal state program included. ($19.95 for e-file)

*First personal state program included ($19.95 for e-file)

Pros
  • Navigate your tax return easily using TaxAct Bookmarks
  • Unlimited access to returns for seven years
Cons
  • State returns are pricey
  • Poor audit support

Why we chose it: We chose TaxAct as the best tax software for small business owners because of its comprehensive plan for self-employed individuals, which covers a variety of cases.

TaxAct is worth considering if you have different income streams, are an entrepreneur, a contractor or are self-employed. The self-employed tier covers freelance income (including 1099-NEC), farm and business income and depreciation calculations. It also covers circumstances included in the company’s Premier tier, including capital gains and rental property income.

TaxAct offers a fairly robust income tax calculator you can access under the Tax Tools tab. If you’re reasonably well-versed with the terminology, you can play around with the tool to get a ballpark idea of your estimated taxes without committing to anything.

TaxAct also offers a free package for federal and state filing for all active-duty service members via the TaxAct military landing page. The offer is applied once you enter an eligible Employer ID Number during filing.

File on your own

Free

Deluxe

Premier

Self Employed

Federal

$0

$29.99

$39.99

$69.99

State

$39.99 (per state)

$39.99 (per state filed)

$39.99 (per state filed)

$39.99 (per state filed)

Pros
  • State filing included in flat $25 price
  • In-person customer service
Cons
  • Must file in-store to receive advances
  • Pitches for pricier products

Why we chose it: We chose Jackson Hewitt as the best tax software for unlimited state returns because of its single, low fee.

Jackson Hewitt is well known for its pop-up shops and kiosks that sprout up in strip malls and big-box stores during tax season, but the tax preparer also has online software for people who want to file their taxes from home. For $25 you can prepare and file your federal and state returns (even if they’re complicated).

Apart from its in-person options at your local mall during tax season, its customer support is comprehensive and even includes IRS audit assistance.

Services

Online

Federal

$25 (includes state)

State

$25 (includes federal)

Pros
  • More affordable than other tax software providers
  • Comprehensive tax return knowledge base
  • Maximum accuracy guarantee
Cons
  • Limited audit assistance and customer support
  • Does not support certain business returns

Why we chose it: We chose TaxSlayer as the best tax software for self-employed filers because of its affordable and inclusive products for freelancers.

TaxSlayer’s greatest advantage for self-employed filers is clear: it’s cheaper than the other alternatives out there. For $52.95 — the most expensive of its three paid online tax prep tiers — you get live chat assistance from tax pros as well as estimated tax payment reminders.

If you have a simple return, you may appreciate the company’s free filing option. Though it has fewer frills than some of its competitors’ free options, it provides all the tools needed to quickly file a basic 1040 tax return.

TaxSlayer also offers free federal tax filing for all income types, deductions and credits via the landing page if you’re an active-duty military member. However, you’ll still have to pay for filing state taxess, which costs $39.95 per state.

Services

TaxSlayer Military

Simply Free

Classic

Premium

Self-Employed

Federal

$0

$0

$22.95 but likely to increase later

$42.95 but likely to increase later

$52.95 but likely to increase later

State

$39.95

$0 (included)

$39.95 (per state)

$39.95 (per state)

$39.95 (per state)

Pros
  • Best for simple DIY tax returns
  • Less expensive than other software
Cons
  • Limited on-demand customer support
  • No discount for military members

Why we chose it: We chose E-file as the best tax software for year-round discounts because of its generous promotions for filers.

E-file is a good choice for budget-conscious filers who just need the basics. Its filing process is simple: Once you create an account and enter your taxpayer information, E-file will prepare your return. E-file emphasizes speed on its homepage, boasting that users with simple tax returns can file electronically in under 15 minutes with its online software.

It's not only fast — it's also generally less expensive than other tax preparers. E-file has a basic option for federal filing, but even its Deluxe Plus and Premium Plus tiers come in under $40. It accepts promo codes, too.

E-file will automatically save your progress as you complete your tax forms. Though the platform is entirely online and promotes electronic filing, you can also print out your tax forms to mail in physically. If you encounter a question before that point, the company also has phone or email assistance available for a fee.

Services

Free Federal Basic Software

Deluxe Plus E-file

Premium Plus E-file

Federal

$0

$20.99

$37.49

State

$22.49 (per state with coupon code 25OFF)

$22.49 (per state with coupon code 25OFF)

$22.49 (per state with coupon code 25OFF)

Pros
  • Free tax storage for up to seven years
  • Low state income tax returns fees
  • Free federal tax extension filing
Cons
  • No in-person help or phone-based customer support
  • Limited importing tools

Why we chose it: We chose FreeTaxUSA as the best low-cost tax software because it offers free filing for people in all tax situations, including those filing jointly, homeowners, people with dependents, freelancers and investors.

FreeTaxUSA is an online-only tax service that’s particularly well suited to filers looking for a bargain and who are comfortable filing their tax return with little or no assistance. Whether your tax situation is simple, basic or advanced, the software lets you file your federal return for free. State returns cost a flat rate of $14.99, regardless of the complexity of your return.

FreeTaxUSA features easy prior-year imports from TurboTax, H&R Block and TaxAct, among other companies. However, there is no document import feature, meaning you’ll have to enter some of your tax information manually. Once you file your return, it will be automatically stored as a PDF for up to seven years.

The tax software provider also says it helps military members get the biggest refund available. It supports tax breaks such as combat pay exclusion, moving expense deduction, uniform deduction, reservist’s travel deduction, job search expenses, EITC for nontaxable combat pay and more.

Services

Free Edition

Deluxe Edition

Federal

$0

$7.99

State

$14.99 (per state)

$14.99 (per state)

Pros
  • Supports most major IRS and state forms/schedules
  • Free filing for federal and state taxes
  • Completely mobile tax return filing
Cons
  • Doesn't support easy import of investments
  • Paid plans don't include professional support

Why we chose it: We chose Cash App Taxes as the best free tax software because it’s the only tax software provider that offers a completely free tax filing service for federal and state returns.

Cash App Taxes, which was acquired by Cash App from Credit Karma in November 2020, is worth considering if you’re comfortable with DIY tax software and don’t need one-on-one support. Unlike most of the leading tax preparation software providers, Cash App Taxes does not enforce strict income limits to qualify for its free products.

The software offers support for most major IRS forms and schedules as well as many other tax situations that other freebie tax software providers might not accommodate, such as student loan interest and rental property income.

To facilitate your tax preparation process, the software is equipped with easy-to-use navigation tools to guide users through every step of the way. Cash App Taxes offers free audit defense and an accurate calculations guarantee: if the service makes a mistake, you could receive up to $1,000 in gift cards.

Services

Free

Federal

$0

State

$0

Pros
  • Complete practice management and tax preparation
  • Cloud-hosted, web and desktop installation options
  • Can service small and large corporations
Cons
  • Limited third-party integration
  • Must be renewed every year

Why we chose it: We chose Drake Tax as the best tax software for tax preparers because it offers multiple tiers that are designed to meet the needs of different tax professionals.

Drake Tax has provided tax software services to tax preparers since 1977, with an electronic filing option since it became available. The company has helped a wide range of offices produce accurate and compliant tax returns.

Most notably, Drake Tax offers a variety of professional tax software options that can service just about any level of tax business — from a single CPA working from a home office to a large corporation. For instance, Drake’s Pay-Per-Return System is great for tax preparers who may not manage large quantities of returns a year.

If you have trouble understanding a form, Drake Tax has a customer support line that’s available year-round (and operates for longer hours from Jan. 2 to April 15). You can call or email customer support to get hands-on assistance and resolve issues quickly.

Free Trial

Pay-Per-Return

1040

Pro

Cost

$0

$355

$1,695

$2,095

1040, 1040-NR Returns

N/A

10 included, $34.99 for each additional

Unlimited

Unlimited

1120, 1120-S, 1120-H, 1065, 1041, 990, 706 Returns

N/A

$49.99 each

$49.99 each

Unlimited

Pros
  • One affordable flat rate for federal and state filing
  • Guided navigation and audit support
  • Mobile friendly website
Cons
  • No full-service filing option
  • No on-demand live support

Why we chose it: We chose 1040.com as the best tax software for simple tax returns because of its user-friendly interface and an affordable flat rate of $25 (plus tax).

1040.com may be a good choice if you’re looking for no-frills, affordable tax preparation software. The online-only software provider is filer-friendly and equipped with a sophisticated walkthrough system that guides you through your tax return.

Navigation is simple. Once you get started you can use the "tell me more" button to learn more about different tax forms or ignore it and continue scrolling. If you’re familiar with your tax forms and don’t need a step-by-step walkthrough, you can save time and use the menu to jump between forms.

1040.com supports prior-year imports for return filers and W-2 imports, which can speed up your tax prep process. You’ll also get three-year secured storage of your tax returns. Keep in mind that 1040.com can only import W-2s; other tax statements must be entered by hand.

Should you need support from a tax expert, 1040.com has a service team available through chat and email — no upgrade required.

Services

File Taxes

Federal

$25 plus taxes

State

Included

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Other tax software companies we considered

The following tax software companies offer packages that we believe are worth mentioning. However, we found that they do not excel in any one area or lack essential features that would otherwise land them in our top reviews.

ATX Tax

Pros
  • Library with over 6,000 tax compliance forms
  • Integrations for easy import
  • Robust diagnostics to catch errors
Cons
  • Designed for tax professionals
  • Best suited for mid-sized accounting firms

Why it didn’t make the cut: ATX tax offers tax professionals a range of tax preparation tools comparable to Drake Tax, but its higher prices ($979 for its most affordable option) prevented it from landing on our list of top tax software.

EzTax Return

Pros
  • Great for simple tax returns
  • Safe storage for up to three years
  • More affordable than most tax prep software
Cons
  • Available only in 30 states
  • Email customer support only

Why it didn’t make the cut: Limited customer support options and lack of availability in all U.S. states kept EzTax Return out of our top list.

Community Tax

Pros
  • Licensed tax practitioners, CPAs on staff
  • Assist with tax prep, planning, resolution and accounting
  • Free consultation
Cons
  • Must create an account to learn about pricing tiers

Why it didn’t make the cut: Community Tax didn’t make it to our list due to its lack of upfront pricing information.

Liberty Tax

Pros
  • Easy-to-follow tax preparation experience
  • Import tax documents quickly and easily
  • Fast and user-friendly interface
Cons
  • Limited advice from financial professionals

Why it didn’t make the cut: Liberty Tax did not land on our top list due to its lack of a free service tier and a relatively high price ($45.95) for its most basic service options.

Tax Software Guide

Getting through tax season has never been easier thanks to the wide variety of online tax preparation tools available today. But with so much new software, it’s gotten harder to pick one.

Before you make a choice, it’s important to understand what tax software is, how it works and what you can expect.

What is tax software?

Tax software programs are designed to help the average taxpayer accurately prepare and file state and federal income tax returns.

Online tax software can be a cost-effective way to file your tax returns from the comfort of your home, and the products don’t require any previous experience for you to navigate them.

How does tax software work?

Tax software programs generally use two types of interfaces to coach you through your tax return: an interview-style questionnaire or a form-based step-by-step guide.

Most tax preparation software programs also feature simple navigation tools that allow you to upload returns from prior years, W-2s and investment income documents. This can save you a substantial amount of time as the software automatically imports your information into your return.

Once you’re done entering all your information, tax software programs often run a diagnostic to check for errors. Before you file, they verify that your information is accurate and follows the latest tax laws and check whether you’re eligible for certain income adjustments, tax deductions or tax credits — such as the child tax credit or EV tax credits.

Eligibility for some tax credits depends on your tax bracket, so if you’re not sure where you fall this year, check out the tax brackets for 2023.

Good tax preparation software will also be up to date with the latest tax changes. After you file, you can easily track the status of your tax refund through the company's online portal or the IRS website.

If you need extra support, almost all tax software programs are equipped with tools to help you answer common questions regarding your returns. These may include a glossary defining common tax terms, a step-by-step navigation bar or a live chat or consultation with a tax professional.

Tax software pros and cons

Pros
  • Most tax preparation software is easy to use and includes step-by-step guidance for filers.
  • It lets you file your tax returns on your own time thanks to easy online access.
  • Tax returns and information are often saved automatically for easy access and download.
  • It's often less expensive than hiring a CPA. In some cases, you can even file for free.
Cons
  • Tier packages increase in cost according to the complexity of the return and the services needed.
  • You usually have to pay extra to get one-on-one support from a tax professional.
  • It may not offer the level or channels of support you need.
  • Not all complex tax returns are supported. You may have to pay for expert help from a tax professional for complex tax situations.

How to file taxes online

Filing your taxes online is the best way to ensure your forms get processed on time. If you’re using tax preparation software, filing your taxes online is as simple as following the software’s instructions.

Once you’ve put in all the necessary information — W-2 data, investment earnings, tax-deductible expenses, etc. — the tax software you’re using will send the completed forms to the IRS or relevant state agency.

Although most tax preparation software require you to pay a small fee for basic tax preparation services, many companies offer a free service tier for taxpayers with simple returns. Likewise, the IRS offers free online guided tax preparation and filing for individuals whose adjusted gross income (AGI) falls under a certain level.

How to file taxes online for free

If you don’t want to (or can’t afford to) pay for tax preparation software, many companies offer a free service tier for individuals with simple tax returns. This typically means only filling out a form 1040 for W-2 income.

The IRS also provides a free guided tax preparation and filing option for taxpayers whose 2023 AGI was less than $79,000 through the IRS Free File program. Individuals can choose from several online tax preparation services from companies partnered with the IRS.

Unlike the free service tiers of tax preparation software, which may upcharge you for more complicated returns, the IRS Free File program allows taxpayers to file even complex tax returns that include rental, small business and investment income. Individuals whose AGI was greater than $79,000 can still file online free of charge but will have to fill out their forms themselves using the IRS Free File Fillable Forms program.

In addition, the IRS plans to roll out a beta version of its free direct file program in certain states in March.

How to file a tax extension online

If you feel like you don’t have enough time to get your tax paperwork in order before the April 15 filing deadline, you can always file a tax extension to get more time. A tax extension delays your filing deadline until Oct. 15.

Filing a tax extension online is fairly straightforward and rarely takes more than 15 minutes. If you’re using tax filing software, many companies such as H&R Block allow you to file an extension at no added cost.

The IRS also offers the option to file an extension for free on their website. Aside from allowing taxpayers with an AGI of under $79,000 to fill out and file their taxes for free, the Free File program also allows anyone to submit an online tax extension form free of charge. Remember: Although an extension may give you extra time to do your taxes, it doesn’t give you an extension on the deadline(s) to pay your tax bill.

Keep in mind that the later you file your tax return, the later you’ll receive your tax refund.

How to file previous years’ taxes

If you have any unfiled taxes from last year, there’s no need to panic. While it’s always best to file your taxes on time, the IRS allows you to file any prior-year tax returns you may have missed. In order to file prior-year tax returns, you’ll need to fill out the forms that correspond to the tax year you missed. Tax preparation software will usually allow you to file previous year tax returns, though how many years back varies from one company to another.

If you prefer to go the DIY route, you can also download prior-year tax forms directly from the IRS website. You can also find useful information on how to file past years’ tax returns and are even offered a phone number that you can call to receive further guidance on the process.

Filing prior-year tax returns is important to avoid tax penalties or even criminal charges. Anyone who is already dealing with IRS penalties or back taxes can reach out to a tax relief company for tax assistance. The best tax relief companies can help you determine if you’re eligible for tax debt assistance programs which include payment plans, a temporary pause on collections from the IRS and — in rare cases — tax debt cancellation.

How do you choose the right tax software?

There are numerous tax software programs available online, but not all of them are designed for the same circumstances. Some software is meant to guide total beginners in personal finance through the process, whereas others are meant to be used only by professionals.

Choosing the right tax software comes down to three main factors: cost, user experience and forms availability.

Cost

Tax preparation software is often an affordable option for taxpayers to file their state and federal income tax returns. However, if your tax return is complex, as is the case for self-employed individuals, business owners, investors, couples filing jointly or those with dependents, you may have to pay for a premium service.

Consider how much you’re willing to spend on tax preparation software and if you are able to make due with simpler, free software options. Some companies offer budget-friendly plans, but these often lack support for filers that need more hand-holding. Other software options offer audit support or on-demand customer support from a tax professional, but with a higher price tag.

User experience

Tax preparation software programs are designed to simplify the tax return filing process, especially for inexperienced individuals. It’s important that the user feels guided and understands what is happening every step of the way.

Look for tax preparation software that offers clear explanations for every field on their digital forms. Also, make sure you’re aware of the customer support channels available to you, such as live chat, email, tax term glossaries and phone support.

Tax forms available

There’s no point in becoming familiarized with tax preparation software if it doesn’t even offer the type of forms you need to file. Most common forms are usually offered widely (and for free), but specific types of forms may require some more careful hunting down.

Here are a few often-used forms you may come across:

1040. Form 1040 is an IRS form used by U.S. taxpayers to file their annual income tax returns. Most taxpayers use a 1040 form to report their income tax for the year and any refund or additional tax owed.

W-2. A W-2 is a tax form that shows your total paid wages, as well as federal, state or other income tax withholdings for the year, as reported by your employer. The IRS requires employers to send W-2 forms to their employees no later than January 31 following the end of the tax year, which generally falls on December 31.

1099-INT. Form 1099-INT is used to report the amount of interest a company or entity paid to you.

1099-DIV. Banks and financial institutions use form 1099-DIV to report dividends and other distributions you have received.

1098-E. Form 1098-E is used to report the amount of interest you’ve paid in a year toward your federal student loans. In some cases, you may be eligible to deduct a portion of the interest you paid on your federal tax return.

1098-T. Form 1098-T is a tuition statement form that reports the amount of college tuition you paid during a calendar year. With a 1098-T, you may be eligible for an adjustment to income or tax credit.

Schedule A. Taxpayers use Schedule A to report itemized deductions (e.g. charitable gifts and donations, mortgage interest, business expenses, medical bills) to the IRS. Once you list all of your itemized deductions, you can calculate your total itemized deductions amount, which is subtracted from your adjusted gross income (AGI) to determine your total taxable income.

Schedule B. There are eight main situations where you may be required to fill out a Schedule B form:

  • You had over $1,500 of taxable interest or ordinary dividends.
  • You received interest from a seller-financed mortgage and the buyer used the property as a personal residence.
  • You have accrued interest from a bond.
  • You are reporting original issue discount (OID) in an amount less than the amount shown on Form 1099-OID.
  • You are reducing your interest income on a bond by the amount of amortizable bond premium.
  • You are claiming the exclusion of interest from series EE or I U.S. savings bonds issued after 1989.
  • You received interest or ordinary dividends as a nominee.
  • You had a financial interest in, or signature authority over, a financial account in a foreign country or you received a distribution from, or were a grantor of, or transferor to, a foreign trust. Part III of the schedule has questions about foreign accounts and trusts.

Schedule C. If you’re self-employed or act as a sole proprietor business owner, Schedule C reports income profits or losses for the year. According to the IRS, any activity qualifies as a business if your primary purpose in engaging in the activity was to earn income and you were involved in said activity with continuity and regularity.

Best Tax Software FAQ

When are taxes due this year?

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This year, most individual income tax returns are due on April 15. If you live in Maine or Massachusetts, though, your deadline is April 17 due to the Patriot’s Day and Emancipation Day holidays. You may also be allowed extra time to file if you’re in a federally declared disaster area.

How can I pay taxes with a credit card?

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You can pay taxes with a credit card by calling the IRS, using a service like PayPal or visiting the IRS website to choose a payment processor. Fees may apply.

How soon can I pay my taxes?

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The IRS began accepting and processing tax returns for the 20232 tax year on Jan. 293. Filing your taxes sooner rather than later is highly encouraged, since it helps you get your refund faster and reduces the likelihood of falling victim to scammers.

Where to buy tax software?

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You can purchase tax software from various sources, including online retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy. You can also buy them directly from the websites of tax software companies such as TurboTax, H&R Block and TaxAct.

How We Chose the Best Tax Software of 2024

When looking at tax preparation software, we first evaluated the types of features included in different pricing plans. We considered if they are IRS-approved, the states they service, and the tax situations they support, as well as whether they offer a maximum refund and accuracy guarantee. We also reviewed each software's navigational tools and took into account if they offer free services for military members and free filing for federal and state returns.

Summary of Money’s Best Tax Software Programs of 2024