Every April, Tax Day rolls around like clockwork. For most people, filling out and filing tax returns isn’t a fun activity. However, that doesn’t make it any less important.
Because taxes can be so complicated, there are many programs designed to help people prepare and file their taxes. One of the best-known is TurboTax, but there are plenty of alternatives worth considering.
Best TurboTax Alternatives
Cash App Taxes
- Free: $0 for federal and $0 for each state return
Cash App Taxes offers completely free tax filing for both federal and state taxes; and surprisingly, it actually handles a wide variety of tax situations. Unless you have a unique tax situation it’s likely that Cash App Taxes can handle it. Typically free tax software is only available to the simplest of tax returns.
Cash App Taxes’ interface is easy to use and walks you through filling out your tax return by asking simple questions.
The biggest drawback is that it doesn’t offer as much support as TurboTax. You will not have access to a tax expert, not even for an additional fee. Also, there is no audit support. However, if those aren’t services you value then Cash App Taxes might be a perfect fit.
Here’s our full Cash App Taxes Review.
- Free: $0 for federal and $14.99 for each state return
- Deluxe: $7.99 for federal and $14.99 for each state return
Unlike competitors such as TurboTax, FreeTax USA is free to use for federal taxes, regardless of how complex your tax situation is. The company does have a few forms that it does not support, including non-resident alien forms, and forms for foreign employment income, but it supports all the forms required for the vast majority of taxpayers.
The only difference between the Free and the Deluxe plans is that you get access to a tax expert with the Deluxe plan. The ability to speak to tax pro for only $7.99 is the cheapest you will find anywhere.
I used this service to file my son’s simple tax return and found the program very easy to use.
Here is our full FreeTaxUSA Review.
- Free: $0 for federal and $0 for each state return
- Deluxe: $55 for federal and $37 for each state return
- Premium: $75 for federal and $37 for each state return
- Self-Employed: $110 for federal and $37 for each state return
H&R Block offers online filing and also has roughly 12,000 offices worldwide, each staffed by tax professionals that can help you prepare and file your tax return. This means that if you get stuck with your online filing you can actually sit down with someone in person for help. That’s not something most online tax software offers.
The Free version is for the simplest of tax returns. It covers W-2 income and the standard deduction. If you want to itemize or have investments, you won’t qualify.
The Deluxe version allows you to itemize and you’ll also get upgraded tech support allowing you to talk to tech support on the phone or over chat. You’ll also get limited audit support.
The Premium version includes rental property income and simple business income (but no business deductions).
The Self-Employed version includes full business income and deductions.
If you want to file online but still have access to a tax professional for questions, you can add tax assistance to any plan for $85 for federal (state additional). All returns come with informational audit support, meaning you can call and ask questions about your audit. If you want full audit support that can be added for an additional fee. Full audit support includes a representative that will contact the IRS on your behalf.
What is unique about H&R Block (and Liberty Tax) is that you can also have your taxes done in person at your local H&R Block office. You can work with a tax professional to do your taxes in person, drop off your documents for preparation, or work with a professional virtually to make sure that everything is properly filled out.
Here is our full H&R Block Review
- Basic: $55.95 for federal and $36.95 for each state return
- Deluxe: $75.95 for federal and $36.95 for each state return
- Premium: $95.95 for federal and $36.95 for each state return
Liberty Tax is a tax preparation company that offers both online and in-person tax services.
Compared to TurboTax, LibertyTax aims to keep its product line simple. There are only three levels of service to purchase based on the complexity of your tax situation. If your taxable income is over $100,000 you will automatically need the Premium version.
The Basic plan includes those who do not have dependents, want to claim the standard deduction, and have a taxable income under $100,000.
The Deluxe plan includes those who have taxable income under $100,000, want to itemize, have investments, and dependents.
The Premium plan includes everyone who has taxable income over $100,000, this includes self-employment income and rental property income.
All Liberty Tax plans include tax assistance. You can call your local Liberty Tax office for a free consultation and still file online. If you file through your local office you will also receive audit support, someone from the office will even attend the audit with you.
Here’s our full Liberty Tax Review.
- Simply Free: $0 for federal and $0 for one state return
- Classic: $19.95 for federal and $39.95 for each state return
- Premium: $39.95 for federal and $39.95 for each state return
- Self-Employed: $49.95 for federal and $39.95 for each state return
- Military: $0 for federal and $39.95 for each state return
TaxSlayer tends to charge lower prices and simpler plans than most of its competitors. If you’re looking for a cheap tax preparation service but don’t like the experience offered by the free programs, this may be the right choice for you.
The Simply Free plan is for the simplest of tax returns. It includes W-2 income, the standard deduction, and student loan interest and education expenses deductions.
The Classic plan covers pretty much every tax situation, except for those who are self-employed. It includes all the major forms you’ll need. It does not include tax assistance. If you have tax questions you’ll need to upgrade to Premium.
The Premium plan is just like the Classis plan but it includes access to a tax professional to answer any tax questions you have.
The Self-Employed plan is for... you guessed it... self-employed taxpayers who have business income and expenses.
The Military plan is unique to TaxSlayer and available to active military members.
If you file with Premium you will get informational audit support, meaning you can call and ask questions regarding your audit. There is no full-service audit support available.
Here’s our full TaxSlayer Review.
- Free: $0 for federal and $39.95 for state
- Deluxe: $24.95 for federal and $44.95 for state
- Premier: $34.95 for federal and $44.95 for state
- Self-Employed: $64.95 for federal and $44.95 for state
Tax Act service is comparable to TurboTax, offering different levels of service, with the cost increasing with the complexity of your tax situation. However, TaxActs software tends to be cheaper than the competition for federal taxes. The fee for state taxes is higher than the competition.
However, all plans include access to a tax expert so you can get any tax questions you have answered. They also all include informational audit support so you can get your questions answered in the event of an audit. You can add on full audit support for a fee which will get you a representative that can speak to the IRS on your behalf.
The Free version is for simple returns only, and note that the state is not free.
The Deluxe version allows you to itemize your deductions
The Premier version includes everything in Deluxe and also includes investments, rental property income, and 1099-K income.
The Self-Employed version includes business income and deductions.
Here’s our full TaxAct Review.
Read More: Best Tax Software Programs
How to Choose Which Tax Software is Best for You
Which software is best for you will depend on your comfort level and how complicated your taxes are. If you have very simple taxes which include just W-2 income and the standard deduction then you may just want to go with the cheapest plan, which would be CashApp Taxes or FreeTaxUSA.
However, if your taxes are complicated and include business income, investment gains or losses, rental property, etc then you may want to opt for a program that offers a few more bells and whistles such as TurboTax or TaxSlayer.
Also, if you are nervous about doing your own taxes make sure to choose a service that allows you to speak to a tax pro. That will ease any fears you have as you go through the process.
Finally, if you have complicated taxes and you’re nervous then you probably want a full-service option, like what is provided by H&R Block or LibertyTax.
Where can I do my taxes for free?
You can file for free using CashApp taxes no matter how complicated your tax situation.
However, most tax prep companies, including TurboTax, offer a free version for very simple returns. This often includes having only W-2 income and taking the standard deduction. Be aware that some services charge for state returns so make sure you do some research if you are looking for a truly free option.
How long does it take to get a tax refund?
How long it takes to get your refund will depend on how you filed and how you asked for the IRS to send your refund.
You can get your refund in a few weeks if you file electronically and elect for direct deposit. However, it may take a few months if you file with a paper form and opt to get your refund mailed via paper check.
Related: Cheapest Tax Software
TurboTax is one of the best-known tools for getting help with your tax preparation, but it’s just one of the many options out there. Before you use TurboTax, consider what services you really need when it comes to doing your taxes and check out the alternatives. You may find a less expensive service or one that works better for you.