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It’s February, and that means it’s time to start thinking about taxes. No worries, though. Thanks to the latest tax software, the entire process is going to be quick, painless and inexpensive. Pick your software, answer some questions, enter some numbers, and you’re done.
The biggest challenge? Figuring out the best deal on tax software. Here’s a rundown of the most popular tax software for 2018. Check it out, click on your choice, and you’re on your way.
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- Comprehensive tax preparation for everyone
- Excellent for more complex tax situations
TurboTax is arguably the leader in tax preparation software. It has been around since the early days of electronic filing and has seemingly perfected its system for completing tax returns with ease. TurboTax can handle both simple tax returns and the more complex paperwork required of self-employed taxpayers. TurboTax provides plenty of online support material, the opportunity to speak live to a CPA and a mobile app as well.
For a limited time, if you file a 1040A or 1040EZ form and make less than $100,000 a year, you may be able to prepare and file your taxes for free using the company’s AbsoluteZero service. If you qualify, that $0 price tag includes filing a state tax return.
TurboTax offers a lot of other options, as well, depending on your tax situation. Regular prices range from $59.99 – $179.99 for federal returns, although coupons and sales are regularly offered.
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- Dependable service for individuals and the self-employed
- Excellent for those on a budget
TaxAct is another longtime provider of online tax preparation services. Dating back to the late 1990s, the company has made a name for itself as an affordable alternative to other products. The price to prepare and file a federal tax return normally ranges from $27-$51 with an additional fee for the state return. (Rates are currently discounted: See links below.)
Those filing a simple 1040A or 1040EZ can use TaxAct’s free service for both state and federal returns. However, you’ll need to pay an extra $15 if you want to import last year’s tax data or use phone support.
Although TaxAct is comparatively no-frills — you won’t find a 1040 smartphone app here — the service is a solid choice. It offers a $100k Accuracy Guarantee that promises accuracy and pledges to get customers the biggest refund possible. The website will provide seven years of access to your return as well as technical phone support with its paid service.
Ready to get started? Click on one of the links below for deals (available as of publication date):
For itemized returns, homeowners and investors: 20 percent off TaxAct Plus Edition
Comprehensive package plus audit defense: 20 percent off TaxAct Premium Edition
For the self-employed, freelancers and contractors: 20 percent off TaxAct Freelancer Edition
For 1040EZ and 1040A filers with simple returns: 2016 Free Edition
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- Backed by one of the biggest names in tax preparation services
- Best for those who want to file for free and itemize deductions
Long before people were filing taxes online, they were relying on H&R Block to prepare and file taxes for them the old-fashioned way. Today, the company still maintains a network of office locations for those who want to hire a tax preparer. But they have also put their software online and in stores for taxpayers to file their own returns.
Regular prices for online filing are $54.99 and $94.99, depending on whether you are self-employed. (However, prices were discounted at the time of publication, and coupons are often available.) Customers can have a tax pro review their work for an additional fee, and state returns cost extra as well.
Where H&R Block really stands out is for free filers. While plenty of services allow 1040A and 1040EZ to be filed without cost, H&R Block extends its free file service to those filing a 1040 with a Schedule A. In other words, you may be able to itemize deductions and still file for free.
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- Affordable service offering free state returns to some filers
- Best for military members
TaxSlayer doesn’t have the same name recognition as some of the bigger tax preparation firms, but the company has been around nearly as long. It also has many of the same features as the big companies, including the ability to import data from competitors. It supports all major IRS forms and provides both phone and chat support.
Pricewise, TaxSlayer is right behind TaxAct when it comes to affordable returns. Its classic service is only $17, or taxpayers can pay $35 for the premium service that include chat support and audit assistance. There is also a free file service for those with simple returns, and a $55 option for freelancers and the self-employed. These latter two come with free state returns as well. Classic and premium customers pay extra for theirs. Military members get a 50 percent discount, making it a good choice for those in the service.
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- Online filing from an established name in the business
- Best for those who need a refund advance
Like H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt was offering tax preparation services in an office long before it started filing people’s taxes online. Today, the company offers both and prides itself on providing affordable, accurate service regardless of which option is chosen. Regular prices for online federal tax preparation and filing are $69.95 for families and retirees or $109.95 for complex returns. However, discounts can cut those prices in half. State returns are an additional cost. There is also a free file option for those earning less than $100,000 and taking a standard deduction.
When it comes to getting a refund quickly, Jackson Hewitt offers one of the most generous advance refund programs in the industry. Customers can get up to $3,200 in advance, and there is no fee. The only catch is that people must pre-qualify for an account with MetaBank, federally chartered savings bank, to get the money.
Don’t delay. The faster you get your taxes done, the quicker you’ll get your refund and the less likely you’ll be to end up a victim of tax identity theft.
Which of these popular tax software services makes the most sense for you? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.
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