The Battle of Free Tax Software
It’s that time of year again — tax season. For those who don’t want to shell out the big bucks for a tax professional, free tax software can be a lifesaver. However, with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. That’s why we’re here to compare the top free tax software options and help you decide which one reigns supreme.
Criteria for the Comparison: What to Look for in Free Tax Software?
To determine which free tax software is the best for you, there are a few key criteria to consider. First, you’ll want to look at the user interface and ease of use. Nobody wants to spend hours trying to figure out how to input their information. Next, you’ll want to consider the level of support offered. This can range from simple FAQs to live chat or phone support. You may also want to look at the types of tax returns supported, as well as any additional features such as audit defense or import options.
TurboTax: The Champion of the 2010s
Perhaps the most well-known free tax software option is TurboTax. The software has been around since the 1980s and has dominated the market in recent years. TurboTax offers a user-friendly interface with step-by-step guidance, making it a great choice for first-time tax filers. Additionally, the software offers import options for W-2s and investment information, saving time and reducing the risk of errors. However, TurboTax’s free option only supports simple returns, so those with more complex tax situations may need to upgrade to a paid version.
H&R Block: The Up-and-Coming Contender
While H&R Block has been around for over 60 years, their free tax software is a newer offering that has been gaining popularity. Like TurboTax, H&R Block offers a user-friendly interface with step-by-step guidance. One unique feature of H&R Block’s software is the ability to import previous tax returns, making the process even easier for returning users. H&R Block’s free option also includes support for more complex tax situations, including itemized deductions and investment income.
TaxAct: The Simplistic Option for Simple Returns
TaxAct offers a no-frills approach to tax preparation, making it a great choice for those with straightforward tax situations. The software is easy to use and offers free phone and email support for all users. TaxAct’s free option supports all major tax forms and schedules, but lacks some of the import options offered by competitors such as TurboTax and H&R Block.
Credit Karma Tax: The Freebie with a Catch
Credit Karma Tax sets itself apart from other free tax software options by not charging any hidden fees or upgrade costs. However, to use the software, you must have a Credit Karma account. Like TaxAct, Credit Karma Tax offers a simplified approach to tax preparation, but lacks some of the advanced features offered by competitors such as TurboTax and H&R Block.
FreeTaxUSA: The Budget-Friendly Pick
As the name suggests, FreeTaxUSA offers a completely free tax preparation option with no hidden costs or upgrade fees. The software offers a user-friendly interface with simple navigation, and supports all major forms and schedules. However, FreeTaxUSA lacks the advanced import options and support for more complex tax situations offered by competitors such as TurboTax and H&R Block.
TaxSlayer: The Sleek and Straightforward Choice
TaxSlayer offers a sleek interface with easy navigation, making tax preparation a breeze. The software offers all major forms and schedules for free, and provides live chat support for all users. However, TaxSlayer’s free option only supports simple tax returns, so those with more complex tax situations may need to upgrade to a paid version.
Liberty Tax: The Underrated Underdog
While Liberty Tax may not be as well-known as some of the other options on this list, their free tax software offers a great user experience with step-by-step guidance. The software includes import options for W-2s and investment information, and supports more complex tax situations including itemized deductions and self-employment income.
eSmart Tax: The Best for Freelancers and Small Business Owners?
eSmart Tax is a great option for freelancers and small business owners, with support for 1099 income and other self-employment tax situations. The software offers a user-friendly interface with simple navigation, and includes import options for investment information. However, eSmart Tax’s free option only supports simple tax returns, so those with more complex tax situations may need to upgrade to a paid version.
Conclusion: Which Free Tax Software Reigns Supreme?
When it comes to choosing the best free tax software, it really depends on your individual tax situation and preferences. For those with simple tax returns, TaxAct or Credit Karma Tax may be the best options. Those with more complex tax situations may want to consider TurboTax, H&R Block, or Liberty Tax. eSmart Tax is the best choice for freelancers and small business owners. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which software fits your needs best.
Final Thoughts: Don’t Pay for What You Can Get for Free
While paying for a tax professional may be necessary in some cases, free tax software is a great option for those with simpler tax situations. With so many options available, it’s important to take the time to compare and choose the right software for you. As long as you choose a reputable software provider, there’s no reason to pay for what you can get for free.