Bad news; it’s almost tax season again. It comes around every year and every year we dread it. The good news is that there are many personal tax preparation softwares to help you get the job done quickly, correctly, and affordably.
For decades, these tax software applications have offered simplified ways for individuals to fill out all of their major IRS forms. In most cases, they’re all about ease-of-use, guided help, and calculation guarantees, and for a while now, TurboTax has been the number one player in the industry. However, that’s starting to change.
Recently, there’s been quite a bit of talk about some new up-and-coming tax software applications. These applications are making a name for themselves in various ways, and taking a bite out of TurboTax’s domination in the market.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best tax software applications out there in 2018, and how they’re impacting the market.
Originally designed for tax professionals, TaxSlayer has been helping individuals file their personal taxes since the 1990s, and they’ve gotten better and better over the years. What sets TaxSlayer apart is its incredibly simple data entry option. This feature should appeal to any users who cringe at the idea of sitting at the computer for hours just to input tax information in sequential order. With TaxSlayer, you can choose “Quick File” and discover an efficient way to input all your data. Even better, TaxSlayer offers both a guided data input option and an “Enter Myself” version. In either case, you can methodically and quickly enter all your information in a comprehensive system.
As for what TaxSlayer costs, that’s another point in favor of the software. The Premium edition costs just $40 with a self-employed option running about $55. There’s also a free version for simple tax returns, and a classic version for just $22.
You don’t have to pay H&R Block to do your taxes. Instead, you can just use their easy-to-navigate software. What makes this software stand out is that it offers almost all the same features as TurboTax but at a lower cost. H&R Block makes your tax returns easy by providing checklists filled with helpful information, such as a list of commonly missed tax forms. In addition, the software is helpful for individuals who need someone to explain the new ACA requirements. It’s a user-friendly software that anticipates your questions and provides helpful answers either through its help window or live professional tax advice.
The software is definitely more expensive with the Premium version starting at around $90 for all the bells and whistles—best for small business owners. However, they do offer a basic version for just $29.95 (simple tax returns) and a deluxe for just $54.95 (homeowners and investors). As for self-employed individuals, you can expect to pay $74.95.
If you’re looking for the most affordable tax software application, TaxAct is for you. It stands out for being inexpensive—its Premium version is just half the cost of TurboTax’s “Self-employed” option. TaxAct also makes a solid name for itself by offering a price lock guarantee, meaning that no matter how late in the game you start looking at finishing your taxes, TaxAct won’t hike its rates, unlike its competitors. As for its features, there are quite a bit fewer bells and whistles than what you’ll find in TurboTax or H&R Block, but it gets the job done even for individuals who are self-employed or have investment income.
For TaxAct, you can get started for FREE for simple Federal and State Returns. For investments, you pay just $27 and self-employed or business forms costs just $39. As for Premium returns, it’s just $51. And all software purchases come with live customer support and a comprehensive TaxTutor Guidance Center.
If you’re looking to try out the new software on the block, Credit Karma is for you. Launched in 2016, Credit Karma offers free State and Federal tax returns that aren’t limited to simple 1040EZ and 1040A returns. In fact, its free software can handle quite a few complex tax situations. It’s set up similarly to its competitors but has a fairly simple interface that’s functional but not very streamlined.
What sets Credit Karma apart is that its tax preparation software is rolled into its monthly credit monitoring program, which costs about $30 a month. So, if you’re already a member, it’s a great deal.
If you want a simple to use tax wizard, then Jackson Hewitt is the software for you. It costs about the same as both TurboTax and H&R Block, but what sets it apart is its highly efficient and extensive tax return wizard. Basically, the software walks you through a series of questions and then provides you with a completed tax return based on your answers. And it’s pretty darn accurate. The wizard covers about every conceivable tax situation for personal filers and includes helpful popup links for explanations and additional information.
As for the cost, you can expect to pay $54.95 (plus $36.95 per state filed) for complex returns, $34.95 (plus $36.95 per state filed) for basic returns, and there’s even a free option for simple returns.
In 2018, don’t spend hundreds of dollars paying for someone else to file your taxes. Instead, file your taxes online efficiently and correctly with any one of these up-and-coming tax software applications. They all have something different to offer, so it’s just a matter of choosing the best software for your needs.