Best Tax Prep Software for 2021: Which Tax Prep Software Should You Choose?

Sal Ramezani

David Ramezani

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Wondering which tax prep software is the best one for you? The struggle to decide is real when there are multiple options with great benefits for people with both complex and basic tax returns. We’ll show you a few important things to watch for in a tax preparation software to ensure you pick the best choice for you, as well as give a detailed overview of the 6 most popular and well-respected tax preparation software. Consider this your one-stop shop to helping you decide which tax prep software you should use!

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Which Tax Preparation Software Should You Use?

To make sure you pick the right tax preparation software for you and your family, there are a few things you might want to consider.  Believe it or not, a self-employed individual may need to use a different tax prep software than a w-2 full-time employee with a family. Some services cater more to different people with different tax filing statuses. Consider the following questions when picking which tax software is right for you:

  • Are you filing for a business, yourself, your family, or all three?
  • Pricing – does a higher-priced service offer you an even larger refund? Do you get what you pay for?
  • How much assistance do you need with your taxes? Can you do it yourself by following the software guidelines, or do you need the help of a tax professional?
  • If your taxes are complicated, will the software support the tax forms you need?
  • How available are your former tax returns from past years? Does the tax software charge extra to give you copies of archived tax returns?
  • How accessible is the tax prep software? Do they offer a mobile app, in-person assistance, phone or email assistance as well?

The answers to these questions will get you started in the right direction. The rest is bells and whistles! Here’s an overview of the six most reputable tax preparation software services…

TurboTax – Best tax preparation software for those who have complex returns

TurboTax is perhaps one of the most popular tax solutions today. It’s owned by Intuit, who created the popular small – medium-sized business accounting software, QuickBooks. Furthermore, it’s also very popular due to its ease of use and simple instructions. They lay out all the steps for you in an easy to understand layout.

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Popular features that TurboTax offers are:

  • A user-friendly mobile app to access and even file your taxes from your phone
  • W-2 snapshot upload feature – you can take a picture of your w-2, and it automatically uploads everything for you to your tax return
  • Audit Guidance – you get added assistance should you be the lucky one selected for an audit.
  • TurboTax calculations are 100% guaranteed accuracy
  • Live on-demand CPA’s (Certified Public Accountants) and EA’s (Enrolled Agents to do taxes) should you need extra help or need answers to quick questions while filing your taxes

TurboTax is a great option for those who have complex tax returns, those who want total access even via mobile devices, and those who may need on-demand help.

TaxAct – Best Tax Software for Those on a Budget

TaxAct is a newer option that began in 2000. They’ve got a very user-friendly interface that is about as simple as you can get. Whether you’re a W-2 employee, a college student, homeowner, have kids, have investments, do contract work, own a business or planning for retirement, TaxAct has built-in tools to help each scenario, and for a few bucks cheaper.

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A few popular benefits offered by TaxAct are:

  • Multiple package options depending on your filing status and employment status
  • TaxAct guarantees their calculations are 100% accurate
  • Their software guarantees you will get the maximum refund possible or your money back
  • Their Deduction Maximizer tool makes it convenient to find deductions and see the effects on your return

TaxAct poses a great solution for those looking to pay a low price with access to similar tools offered by the competition.

H&R Block – Best Tax Service for those Who Need In-person Support

H&R Block is known for offering both a premium “do-it-yourself” tax software for online filing as well as thousands of in-person offices. The pricing above is the pricing for filing your taxes online with their easy to use tax software, however, should you choose to have a professional do it for you it may cost more depending on how complicated your taxes are. Furthermore, you can even choose to file online with their “Online Assist” option which is a DIY option with the ability to request additional help as needed.

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A few benefits offered by H&R Block are:

  • Audit Support VS Defense: H&R Block offers free “Audit Support” which is basic guidance should you get audited. However, they also offer “Audit Defense” through their “Worry-Free Audit Support” package which assigns you an enrolled agent to walk you through the audit process
  • Live Video Help: Should you choose to request additional help while filing online, their representatives are available via chat, email phone and even video.
  • Brick and mortar local offices
  • Additional 4% refund if loaded onto Amazon gift card

H&R Block is a great solution for anyone who wishes to have in-person assistance through the convenience of a close-by office, as well as those who may believe an audit is coming and wish to have additional assistance during an audit.

Esmart Tax – Best Tax Software for Those who Want a Simple Interface

Esmart Tax is backed by Liberty Tax Services and serves as an alternative solution for filing your taxes online. Their software makes things plain and simple, just take a look at their website and you’ll see what we mean! With that said, there will be little differences between Esmart Tax and Liberty Tax (discussed further below). In short, Esmart Tax is simple, cheap, and user friendly for a quick online filing solution.

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Among the benefits that Esmart Tax offers are:

  • Audit protection – In the event you receive an audit Esmart Tax will help guide you through the process
  • They offer 100% accuracy guaranteed
  • Backed by Liberty Tax with over 3,000 offices nationwide
  • Esmart Tax guarantees you will get the biggest refund possible

Esmart Tax is best for those looking for a quick solution geared towards making things simple, cheap, and easy to understand. In fact, their mission is “…to make online tax preparation as easy as possible for you.”

Liberty Tax – Best Tax Return Solution for Those Who Only Need In-Person Support

Liberty Tax provides tax preparation software, in-person tax guidance, and even helps with your car insurance. Their platform promotes being able to file your taxes in as little as just 15 minutes while still being 100% accurate. You can file a simple individual tax return all the way up to a complex business tax return. What’s more is they cater to Spanish-speaking individuals, families, and businesses making them a clear solution for the Hispanic market.

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  • They offer accuracy guarantee, or your money back and penalties paid if you receive an audit and incur penalties
  • Over 3,000 offices nationwide are available offices for in-person tax preparations and additional assistance
  • Audit assistance – a liberty tax representative will accompany you to an audit for added assistance
  • Free competitor import – the ability to import your information into the Liberty Tax system even if you’ve filed at another tax company. This makes it quick and easy to populate data from your last return to the current one, saving time and money
  • Free “Double-Check” services that allow you to take your online tax filing to a Liberty Tax office to have them double-check your work
  • Free copies of your previous tax returns from any local office
  • Maximum refund guarantee

Liberty Tax is great for those looking for well-rounded tax software at a fair price. They are also great for individuals, families & businesses who speak Spanish, and those who wish to have the benefit of filing online and/or in-person as needed.

So, What Online Tax Solution Should You Use?

The answer to this question lies in going back to the original questions we asked in the beginning, aligning which online tax software meets all your needs and finally finding the one that has the most affordable price that matches your needs. Rest assured, all six options listed above are well respected, professional and ultimately make filing your taxes online much easier.