The deadline for filing federal tax returns for the 2021 tax year is Monday, April 18. You don’t have to wait until the deadline, however. You can start filing today.
Are you planning to file electronically? You have a few options, including IRS Free File or Fillable Forms, tax prep sites and commercial software. You can scan important documents into a digital format using your phone or tablet. Tap or click here for more tax filing tips.
One of Kim’s listeners, Thomas from California, asked for our advice on tax preparation software. We’ll break down some popular options to help you make a decision.
Update (March 31, 2022): The Federal Trade Commission says \Intuit’s “ubiquitous” advertising claiming that its TurboTax is free to use is misleading. The FTC asked a federal court to order Intuit to stop “disseminating the deceptive claim that consumers can file their taxes for free using TurboTax.” Be aware of that if you decide to use TurboTax.
TurboTax is one of the most comprehensive tax prep software solutions. Go to turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/online and select the items that apply to you. The site will recommend software based on your selections. You’ll be asked questions about income, deductions, expenses, dependents and more. This will be populated into the software you choose.
The free version is good for simple returns (Form 1040) and is free to file for state and federal taxes. This covers your W2 and schedules 1-3. It also offers guidance in case of an audit and 24/7 online support from TurboTax specialists and the customer community. The top-tier software costs $71.20 plus $31 per state filed.
Choose a tier depending on your situation. Deluxe may work for most homeowners with children, while self-employed is better for freelancers and small business owners.
2. H&R Block
H&R Block is best for simple returns, which it offers for free (Form 1040 plus schedules 1-3) at the state and federal levels. You can get unlimited live help and video support for $39.99.
On the H&R Block site, the Deluxe option is $23.99. But you can get it from Amazon for under $20. The Premium option costs $39.99 and the Self-employed option is $67.99.
While all the programs in our list guarantee accuracy, TaxAct says it will refund your software costs and pay any difference in a lower refund or higher tax liability, plus cover any legal or audit costs up to $100,000.
Tax Act has four tiers available, from Free to Self Employed, which tops out at $64.95 plus $44.95 per state filed. The free version is free for simple returns at the federal level but you’ll pay $39.95 per state file.
Upgrade to Deluxe for $24.95 plus $44.95 per state filed to get more out of your deductions. Premier ($34.95 plus $44.95 per state) is good if you’re an investor and/or own rental property. Freelancers, contractors and small business owners should check out the Self Employed tier.
Unlimited assistance from CPAs and other tax experts is available for free on all returns. Go to taxact.com/taxes-online for more information.
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TaxSlayer offers lower prices than the other programs on our list. Simple filing is free at the federal and state levels and at most you’ll pay $47.95 plus $36.95 per state filed for the Self-Employed tier.
The Classic level ($17.95 plus $36.95 per state) includes all IRS forms, credits, and deductions with no restrictions. You also get IRS inquiry and audit support for up to one year. Upgrade to Premium for $37.95 plus $36.95 per state filed and you get priority phone and email support plus unlimited support from tax professionals.
Have a side gig, small business or rental property? The Self-Employed tier gives you all of the above plus 1099 & Schedule C support and complete defense and legal representation from a tax pro in the case of an IRS audit for 3 years.
You also get tax payment reminders to stay on top of things all year. Active duty military can file a federal return with Tax Slayer for $0. This covers all tax situations with no restrictions.
Go to taxslayer.com for more information.
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