I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s that time of year again. Tax season.
The IRS officially began accepting returns for the 2018 tax year on Jan. 28, 2019. Don’t freak out though, you have until Monday, April 15, 2019, to file. Unless of course you ask for an extension to file; if that’s the case you have until Tuesday, Oct. 15. If you owe the IRS money, though, the extension may apply to only the time to file, not the time to pay (best to check with your accountant on that).
But, as you know, time flies these days and the deadline can sneak up on you in a hurry. That’s why it’s a good idea to start getting things in order as soon as possible.
That’s why we’re going to take a look at some of the best online tax software out there. They can really help you file the most optimum return possible this year.
If it’s the first time doing your own taxes, TurboTax might be the one for you. It’s known for its ease-of-use and can do most of the work for you if you’re filing a simple return. This year, TurboTax offers four packages to choose from, depending on your filing situation.
If you have a simple tax return to file, your best option is the Free Edition. You’ll pay nothing to file your federal and state taxes if you have a simple return. Start by importing your W-2, answer a few simple life questions and TurboTax will help get you the maximum refund.
Other options include Deluxe, which helps maximize tax deductions and credits. Premier is for those with investments and rental property. Finally, there’s a Self-Employed edition, which is perfect for personal and business income and expenses.
Price: Free Edition: $0; Deluxe: $40; Premier: $60. Self-Employed: $90
State filing fee: $0 with Free Edition and $40 for all others.
If you need a little help filing, you might want to turn to the pros at H&R Block. You can file taxes online and add support from a tax pro at any point throughout the process. This year, H&R Block has four different online options.
The Free online option is best for those with a W-2, with or without children, and rent the place you live. It’s really simple to use. You can even snap a picture to import your W-2. For those that qualify for this version, it’s free to file both federal and state.
The other online options include Deluxe, which best for homeowners, donations and HSAs. Premium is best for freelancers, contractors, and investors. And, Self-employed works best for self-employed and small business.
Price: Free online: $0; Deluxe online: $29.99; Premium online: $49.99; Self-employed online $79.99
State filing fee: $0 with Free online and $36.99 for all others.
If you choose to go with TaxAct, you might be able to receive a bonus with your tax refund. It’s offering up to a $100 refund bonus by putting part of your refund on gift cards from a list of popular retailers. The bonus amount depends on your refund and choice of gift card.
TaxAct also offers a Free filing option for simple returns that can include retirement income. There are three other options to choose from, depending on your situation.
The Basic+ option is perfect for filers with dependents, college expenses and more. The Deluxe+ works for homeowners, deductions, credits and adjustments. And the Premier+ is for filers with investments, rental property and includes prioritized support.
Price: Free: $0; Basic+: $9.95; Deluxe+: $29.95; Premier+: $34.95
State filing fee: $0 with Free option; $19.95 with the Basic+ option; $39.95 for the Deluxe+ and Premier+ options.
If you want peace of mind that comes with identity protection, you might want to take a look at TaxSlayer. There are five options to choose from and its Ultimate package includes identity theft protection and tax audit defense.
It also has a Simply Free option that is perfect for simple filings. You can even upload previous tax returns from another tax service to help make the filing process easier.
Other options include Classic, which is its most popular and good for all tax situations, all the forms included. Premium is the fastest way to prep and e-file and includes priority support when you need it. Self-employed comes with the most personalized guidance for unique self-employed situations. Ultimate offers ultimate peace of mind for any and all tax filers with defense and protection.
Price: Simply Free: $0; Classic: $17; Premium: $37; Self-employed: $47; Ultimate: $57
State filing fee: $0 with Simply Free and $29 with each of the other options.
Jackson Hewitt offers easy step-by-step preparation along with unlimited online support in case you need some additional help. It has three different plans to choose from that aren’t named, just identifiable by price.
The Free option is best for filers with simple returns with up to $100,000 taxable income. The second tier plan is best for families and retirees that includes filings with children and other dependents, student loans, educator expenses and retirement income. The third tier plan is best for those complex returns with income over $100,000 that might include rental property.
Price: Tier 1 $0; Tier 2: $29.99; Tier 3: $49.99
State filing fee: $0 for the Tier 1 plan and $36.95 for the other two.