Top 5 Best Tax Prep Software Options

tax prep software

(Getty)

The deadline to file your taxes is getting closer. If you haven’t filed yet, don’t worry. You still have plenty of time to get your documents organized and file your taxes on time. But how should you file your taxes? There are tons of software option out there, and it can be hard to determine which option is best for your needs. We’ve researched the pros and cons of all major tax prep software options out there, and highlighted important changes you need to know about for 2015. Read on to see the best software options for filing your taxes in 2015.


1. H&R Block Tax Software Deluxe

tax software

(H&R Block)

A recent Consumer Reports article pitted H&R Block’s tax software against that of TurboTax. The “deluxe” offerings from both companies were compared, with H&R Block getting the edge when it came to design and navigation. Overall, Consumer Reports declared that H&R Block’s software was “a better value than the TurboTax version.” This software is available as a digital download, or as a physical disc for Windows or Mac. If you want a software option that is cheaper than TurboTax, this is software you can feel secure about purchasing.

Price: $29.23 (35 percent off)

Buy it here.


Pros:

  • Works across a wide variety of operating systems
  • Five free federal e-files included
  • Free unlimited expert tax advice via online chat
  • In-person audit support
  • Maximum refund guarantee

Cons:

  • Free audit support does not include legal representation
  • Internet connection required for updates, state downloads, e-file
  • You must pay an extra $19.95 for filing state taxes
  • Computers will low screen resolution settings may have difficulty using this software
  • Some Windows users have experienced issues with install

Find more H&R Block Tax Software Deluxe reviews and product information here.


2. TurboTax


4 Tax Credits to Boost Your Tax Refund – TurboTax Tax Tip Videoblog.turbotax.intuit.com Learn about four tax credits that you may be able to claim on your income tax return. Watch this tax tip video from TurboTax so you don't miss out on maximizing your tax refund this year! TurboTax Home: turbotax.intuit.com TurboTax Support: ttlc.intuit.com/ TurboTax Blog: blog.turbotax.intuit.com TurboTax Twitter: twitter.com/turbotax TurboTax Facebook: facebook.com/TurboTax TurboTax Pinterest: pinterest.com/turbotax/…2014-12-15T23:31:18Z

Check out the TurboTax video above to learn about four tax credits that you can use to boost your refund this year.

It seems like 2015 has been a rough year for TurboTax. The company has been under fire from Consumer Reports and Forbes for its increase in price. While TurboTax is offering rebates to people affected by the price change, many long-time TurboTax users are thinking about switching software to file their 2014 returns. Those who previously used TurboTax Deluxe may note that some features have been removed from Deluxe, and will now require an update to TurboTax Premier to access. However, if you don’t need to worry about things like self-employment income, investment income, or rental income, then this change shouldn’t affect you.

That being said, TurboTax still has a lot going for it. The Wirecutter named TurboTax as the best tax software out there, while a recent New York Times article argued that TurboTax also offers one of the fastest imports of old returns, as well as having the best smartphone tax app out there.

Price: $9.99 and up, depending on version selected

Buy TurboTax Simple 1040EZ/A here.

Buy TurboTax Deluxe (Deductions & Homeowners) here.

Buy TurboTax Personal & Small Business here.


Pros:

  • Trusted brand in the tax world
  • Some versions are relatively cheap
  • Solid smartphone app
  • Fast import of old returns
  • Price change is annoying, but doesn’t affect all users

Cons:

  • Price increase
  • Some menus and descriptions can be long-winded or confusing
  • H&R Block may answer questions slightly faster than TurboTax
  • Some users find consumer service lacking

Find more TurboTax reviews and product information here.


3. TaxACT 2014 Ultimate Bundle

tax software

(TaxACT)

This “ultimate bundle” from TaxACT includes both federal and state returns. The federal e-file is free, so the rest of the cost of this bundle goes towards the state return. The Ultimate bundle includes one free federal e-file, so if you need to e-file more than one return, you might want to go with another software option that includes more e-files in the purchase price. Time-saving import options include Stock Import, GainsKeeper Import, and W-2 Import from select payroll providers. Free phone help is included for Ultimate Bundle users.

Price: $21.99

Buy it here.


Pros:

  • Multiple import options
  • Low cost
  • TaxACT Answer Center has been improved over past editions
  • Physical disc can be downloaded to multiple computers

Cons:

  • Some users have reported issues with importing last year’s returns
  • Not quite as user-friendly/idiot-proof as other options out there
  • Federal e-filing is free for first time users only
  • Interview questions feel strangely worded in places

Find more TaxACT 2014 Ultimate Bundle reviews and product information here.


4. TaxSlayer

tax prep

(TaxSlayer)

Don’t care about having physical copies of your tax software? You might be happy with a web/mobile-only tax prep service like TaxSlayer. The Simple Dollar recently put together a list of the best tax software options. TaxSlayer just barely missed the cut for the Top 3, but the folks at the Simple Dollar noted that it was still a really good option for some people. TaxSlayer is flexible and affordable, and you can easily skip whole sections. There’s also a “life events” guide to help you keep track of major life events that might affect your tax burden.

The main downside of this tax tool is the lack of live chat support. The deductions are also a bit harder to figure out on your own, so you if you made a lot of charitable donations or rented property in 2014, you might want to go with an option that was higher on our list.

Price: $34.95 for TaxSlayer Premium, less for other options

Try it here.


Pros:

  • Has apps for iOS and Android
  • Offers a special military-focused tax guide
  • Free federal filing is available
  • Multiple tiers so you don’t overpay for stuff you don’t need
  • Get help over phone or email

Cons:

  • Somewhat longer email and phone response times
  • No live chat
  • Not ideal for people with lots of complex deductions
  • Not all browsers supported (check here for more info)

Find more TaxSlayer product information here.


5. Drake Tax Software

best tax software

(Drake)

Billing itself as “the professional tax solution,” Drake Tax Software has a small-but-devoted following. More than 47,000 tax professionals nationwide use Drake Software. Each year, Drake Software processes more than 22 million tax returns. If you need to file an individual return or a small business return as a tax professional, this is a good option for you to consider. If you are going to become a tax professional in the future, this is software that should definitely be on your radar.

Price: Varies depending on forms and number of returns filed

Buy it here.


Pros:

  • Award-winning software
  • Includes 1040 tax software and the tax software for business returns: Forms 1040, 1040NR, 1041, 1065, 1120, 1120S, 706, 709, 990, and 990PF
  • Trial software available here
  • Company has a great reputation

Cons:

  • Website seems dated and hard to navigate
  • Getting started can be confusing
  • Expensive
  • Not designed for non-professional filing

Find more Drake Tax Software reviews and product information here.

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