Tax season is tricky. Between managing receipts, understanding W-2 jargon and keeping track of the right forms, filing your taxes isn’t always easy. (Read: but it can be.)
We’ve rounded up the top five tools for tax returns to make your April 15 feel like any other Monday. Better yet, it might even feel like Friday. So, grab your laptop (or phone) and coffee (or wine) and let’s get started.
A great overall pick. TurboTax takes the cake for easiest, most user-friendly and efficient tax return tool. The platform prompts you with questions about your year, like “Did you have a baby?” or “Did you make any charitable donations?” Then, you upload a picture of your W-2. TurboTax scans the form and puts the data where it belongs. The step-by-step guidance helps you to get your maximum tax return, while reviewing every single detail to keep you from misfiling. Need to talk to a human? Add TurboTax Live and get live, year-round access to a CPA via one-way video calls where you see your CPA but she only sees your screen. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to midnight (Eastern), seven days a week. TurboTax provides free audit guidance to direct you along the process. You can purchase audit defense, Max Defend & Restore, to have someone from TurboTax represent you in front of the IRS for $39.99. Starting at $49.99 and ranging to $119.99, the downside is that TurboTax is the most expensive tax preparation software.
Yep, that’s right. TurboTax gets two slots in the top five apps for your tax return. The TurboTax Mobile App lets you complete your entire return right from your phone. Snap a photo of your W-2, verify your data and the app will put your info in the right tax forms. From there, the app will ask you simple questions about your life, like “Are you married” to complete your return. And, have no fear! Real CPAs review your return, so there’s no concern if you’re doing it wrong. It has the same security and benefits of the desktop version, just more transportable.
Best budget pick. Much like TurboTax, TaxAct has different versions available for purchase, depending on your needs. Products run from basic (free) to premier ($34.95) that covers investments, rental property and prioritized support. You can upload last year’s tax return from H&R Block or TurboTax, snap a photo of your W-2 and use planning tools and calculators. Need support? Use the in-app email (paid users only) or screen-share option (Premier+and Self-Employed+ paid users only) with a support agent. You can add on an audit protection from its partner, Protection Plus for $49. Audit protection will guide you through the audit process, directly communicate with the IRS on your behalf, and more. While it’s slightly less user-friendly as TurboTax, TaxAct comes with an approachable price tag.
TaxSlayer has different versions available, from basic (free) to ultimate ($57). The great news? You can use TaxSlayer from any device -- mobile, desktop, whatever! It’s slightly more expensive than the budget pick TaxAct, it has an easy-to-navigate interface and an online knowledge base to answer questions. Need more help? Phone and email support are free. But, if you need more specific tax help, it only comes free for Premium, Self-Employed and Ultimate paid users. Some packages come with free audit assistance, while other versions require a $29.99 add-on. If you need someone to represent you in front of the IRS, you’ll have to purchase Audit Defense (free with the Ultimate package only). TaxSlayer will get the job done, but tends to run a little more expensive than other options like TaxAct.
Best hands-on approach. H&R Block is the perfect option for those of you that need more facetime with an expert. Want to prepare your tax refund yourself? No problem! Access a tax expert via the Ask a Tax Pro service for unlimited, on-demand chats ($39.99 for Free and Deluxe users, $49.99 for Premium and Self-Employed users). While in-office appointments start at $59, you can visit one of the company’s 12,000 nationwide shops and know that you’ll get what you need in-person. H&R Block is also heating up the fire for top competitor, TurboTax, with its Tax Pro Review (from $49.99 to $89.99 for users, or $119.99 plus $36.99 for every state you file as a standalone product). An H&R expert will review your tax return -- check for accuracy, identify any missing deductions, etc. -- within three days. They can even file for you, if you’d like. Note: while the H&R Block tax pros are not all CPAs, they’ve undergone extensive training (60 hours of training, plus 30 annual hours of additional training) to ensure their expertise.
Filing your taxes can be simple. We’ll make sure you have the proper tools, resources and free platforms to get an awesome tax return this year.
Have questions? We love your questions! Email us at email@example.com.
Great news! The Pocketnest app is now available for iOS! Download Pocketnest and get your finances in order—in just 10 minutes a month! No jargony finance-speak, pricey fees or in-person meetings required. Download now!