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If you don't qualify to file your taxes for free, what's the next best option? We'll compare prices and features below to help you find the cheapest tax software.

There are five major tax preparation software packages on the market that most do-it-yourself tax preparers will use: Credit Karma TaxTurboTax, TaxACTH&R Block, and eSmart Tax. Comparing these options to find the cheapest can be a real chore. Each has several editions with varying features. As a result, it is essential to compare competing versions between the providers, not just prices.

What is vitally important in selecting the least expensive tax software is making sure that you get the right one based on your own individual income tax situation. Each of these providers has a very attractive free package. But these options won’t cover more than the most basic tax situations, so be sure you know what you need as you shop around.

Bottom line: Unless you have a very basic tax situation, you’ll likely have to pay something for your tax return software. But just how much you pay will depend on the service you choose and your individual tax situation.

Deal of the Day: Credit Karma Tax offers 100% free Federal and State tax filing with a Maximum Refund Guarantee and Audit Defense. Never pay a penny to file your income taxes. Read the Full Review Here


To help you sort through this mess, let’s take a look at the offerings of all five companies, as well as the individual editions, and the charges related to each. Note that the costs listed below are for the online versions of each tax software. The price for the downloadable versions is listed at the end of the article.

Prices are current as of January 26th, 2020.

The Best Free Tax Software

BrandBest For Learn More
Credit Karma TaxAll Individual FilersVisit CK Tax
TurboTaxOverall FeaturesVisit TurboTax
TaxACTFreelancersVisit TaxAct
H&R BlockFree FilersVisit H&R Block
eSmart TaxFree and Simple ReturnsVisit eSmart Tax

Credit Karma Tax – Best for Individual Tax Filers

Credit Karma Tax is a fairly new service offered by Credit Karma and they’ve certainly made a splash.  Their tax filing service is straightforward and I think I can sum it up in two simple statements.

  1. Filing your Federal Tax return is always FREE
  2. Filing your State Tax return is always FREE

Whether you’re filing as someone with just a single W-2, or you’re self employed in need of a Schedule C and itemized deductions, Credit Karma Tax has you covered. Their system is not designed to charge you for anything, so there’s no bait and switch.  Either your file for free from start to finish, or you choose somewhere else to file your taxes.

Credit Karma Tax offers two guarantees when you file your taxes using their platform.

Maximum Refund Guarantee

Credit Karma Tax is quite positive you’ll earn the maximum refund using their service so they’re putting the cash up.  If you file your taxes through Credit Karma, then file an amended return later in the year using the same information; and the refund is higher the second time around, Credit Karma will give you up to $100.  The $100 comes in the form of a gift card. (Minimum difference must be $25).

All you need to do to receive the gift card is provide Credit Karma Tax your amended return, show it was accepted, and show that your refund amount was larger. Not only will you receive the larger refund, you’ll also get the gift card from Credit Karma Tax!

Audit Defense

If Credit Karma Tax makes an oopsie when you file your tax return, they’re prepared to offer Audit Defense and help you fix the problem. And should you be charged a penalty or interest as a result of an incorrect return (an error on CK Tax’s part), CK Tax will refund you up to $1,000 in the form of a gift card for their error.

You can check out our review of Credit Karma Tax here.

TurboTax – Best for Overall Features

TurboTax is highly regarded in the self-prepared income tax universe, and it is the most popular tax software. But it has four different editions (five if you include Live), and you have to choose the right one for your tax situation. Otherwise, you’ll need to upgrade.


This version is for the most straightforward tax returns, but it costs nothing to file either your federal or your state tax return. It only works with forms 1040Schedule B, and Schedule EIC. It’s ideal for those with simple tax situations that don’t involve many deductions. It does cover the Child and Dependent Care credit and child tax credit so even parents can use this version.

As with the other versions of TurboTax, this one will let you upload a photo of your W-2, which can make the process of filing your taxes a snap. And you can file from your internet browser or through TurboTax’s mobile app.


This is TurboTax’s most popular edition, and it provides most of the services the product is known for. It is recommended if you have tax deductions, as the version is specifically designed to maximize those deductions. The cost is $40, and the e-file is free. There is an additional charge of $40 for state returns (per state). So if you have to file in your state, you’re really looking at $80–and that’s assuming you don’t have to file for more than one state.

Deluxe is the most popular option because it fits most taxpayers’ situations. It lets you maximize mortgage and property tax deductions, and allows you to deduct charitable donations. As with other TurboTax options, this one will also allow you to find new deductions you hadn’t thought of, and it’ll tell you whether you should take the standard deduction or itemize your taxes.


This is the TurboTax edition you will need if you have taxable investments or rental property. It does everything the Deluxe version does, but it adds the sale of investment securities (including stocks, bonds, ESPPs, and other investments), automatic calculation of cost basis for investments sold, automatic import of investment income, and preparation of Schedule E for rental properties.

If you maintained rental properties or bought and sold taxable investments in 2019, you’ll need to spring for this upgrade to the Deluxe version, as it will cover rental property income and tax deductions. You also now have the ability to account for gains and losses from cryptocurrency transactions accurately. The cost is $70 and includes free e-file.

It has the same additional charge for preparation of your state return(s), at $40 per state. Prepare to come up with $110 for this edition if you have to file in your state.


This edition does everything that the Premier edition does, but it also adds preparation of Schedule C (sole proprietors). It gives guidance for contractors, freelancers, and small business owners and maximizes business tax deductions and depreciation. This version also reports income and expenses from S-Corporations, C-Corporations, partnerships, and multi-member LLCs (but not the actual returns for each).

You’ll find industry-specific deductions for more tax breaks, get one-on-one help from self-employment specialists, and even get free expense, mileage, and job tracking with QuickBooks Self-Employed.

Bottom line, if you’re a sole proprietor running a business with streamlined income and expenses, you can probably file your own taxes with Self-Employed. The cost of this edition is $90 including free e-file. And once again, many of you will have to add in the per-state charge of $40, bringing the actual cost to $130.

TurboTax Live

This is a newer service from TurboTax. It basically gives you the advantages of having your own CPA or EA give you advice on your taxes while minimizing those costs for most people. It features the same plans as the traditional TurboTax options, but with the added benefit of having a CPA or EA. Here are the costs per plan:

  • Basic – $50 (State is $29.99 per state)
  • Deluxe – $90 (State is $50 per state)
  • Premier – $140 (State is $50 per state)
  • Self-Employed – $170 (State is $50 per state)

If you have a more complicated tax situation or just need the assurance of having someone look over your taxes with you, this could be a good investment. TurboTax Live allows you to connect to a CPA or EA on your computer screen whenever you like during the process. In short, you still fill in all of the information. But you can get live advice from an actual person who is familiar with federal and state tax laws.

Read More: TurboTax Full Review



TaxACT – Best for Self Employed Individuals

TaxACT works much the same way as TurboTax, in that it has multiple editions. In the past, it had a confusing array of editions and bundles. Recently, they streamlined their offerings, and now have five different plans to choose from.


A couple of years ago, TaxACT decided to charge extra to file a state tax return. But they’ve upped their game to compete with TurboTax. Now, the free version is truly free as long as you can get by with the limited forms that TaxACT makes available.

According to their website, you will “pay absolutely nothing to prepare, print and e-file your simple federal return. You get everything you need and nothing you don’t so you can file your 1040 return quickly and easily.” As with TurboTax, this free version works only with simple 1040 tax returns. New this year is the free import of last year’s tax return. Last year, the Free version to import last year’s tax return was $15, but now it’s free.


Deluxe+ costs $29.95 (state is an additional $39.95 per state) and is designed for those who own a home–so you can take advantage of those tax credits. You’ll get all the features from the Free package as well. You’ll get all of the deductions and credits you qualify for regarding child and dependent care expenses and/or education credits. You’ll also have access to Schedule A for all itemized deductions.


The Premier+ package costs $39.95 (state is an additional $39.95 per state) and is geared toward those who have investments, investment income, and rental properties. You’ll receive everything in the Free and Deluxe+ packages, too.

You can easily import investment data or use a tool they developed to enter it quicker and save time and get a more accurate input. This package includes an expert review, where you can get a one-on-one discussion with an independent tax expert for a detailed analysis of your return. This way you can optimize for next year’s tax-related outcomes.

You also receive prioritized support with this package. This includes an in-app chat function, a dedicated phone number, and a screen-sharing service if you need additional help and want to show someone what you’re looking at.

Self Employed+

The Self Employed+ package costs $74.95 (state is an additional $49.95 per state) and is made for small business owners and freelancers. In addition to getting what the other packages offer, they have something called the Deduction Maximizer™, which TaxACT claims will get “every freelance deduction you deserve with a simple tool designed specifically for self-employed filers.” You will be able to plan for the entire year with some of their tax planning business tools, and you’ll also receive the same dedicated support the Premier+ package gets.

Read More: TaxACT Full Review



H&R Block – Best for Free Filers

H&R Block has four editions, and you have to choose the one that most closely matches your tax profile.

Free Online Tax Filing

This program recently upgraded to offer free state taxes, as well as federal taxes, this year. It’s very similar to the other free versions listed here. It includes some slick features, like the ability to take a picture of your W-2 to streamline filing.

It provides support for certain deductions, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, childcare expenses, student loan interest, mortgage interest, and even some cash and non-cash donations. Because of this, it’s a more robust option than the other two free programs.

Deluxe Online Tax Filing

Deluxe will store your returns or pull data from prior years’ returns if you’d like. It offers a deduction tool to make sure you’re making the most of your deductions, most of which are available to users of this version. Additional tax situations that are supported here include Health Savings Accounts, unreported tips, and hobby income. This version costs $29.99, plus $36.99 per filed state, for a total of $66.98 if you file for only one state.

Premium Online Tax Filing

Premium will soon make tax filing easier by letting you import expenses from some favorite expense-tracking apps. If you own rental properties or need to report investment income, this is the version of H&R Block you’ll need. It runs $49.99 for federal taxes, plus $36.99 per state. So the total here is $86.98 if you’re filing for only one state.

Self-Employed Online Tax Filing

Self-employed individuals with a slightly more complicated tax situation will need this option. It lets you fill out the full Schedule C. It also automatically imports driver tax information from Uber, which is great if that’s been your side gig this year. At $79.99, this service for self-employed people is cheaper than TurboTax’s. Overall, you’d pay $116.98 for the service if you only filed for one state.

Read More: Full H&R Block Review



eSmart Tax – Best for Free and Simple Returns

One of the lesser-known players in the game, eSmart Tax seeks to make tax time affordable and easy. The company is owned by Liberty Tax, so there are some well-seasoned pros behind the eSmart Tax name, too. Plus, filing through their online company is likely to be more affordable than visiting a Liberty Tax location in person!

Free Online Tax Filing

If you have a simple tax return, their free version can be an easy way to file quickly and accurately. However, if your return extends beyond a Form 1040 and Schedule B, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid version of the eSmart software.

With the free edition, you’ll be able to import your previous year’s tax info, download W-2s, access ACA forms, add child and dependent care expenses, and prepare your state tax return. Free chat and tech support are available, too (in the past, eSmart Tax only offered support to paid users).

Basic Online Tax Filing

Need to itemize deductions? Then you’ll need to upgrade to at least the Basic version of eSmart Tax’s software, at $44.95. With this version, you can also file your HSA, business expenses, depreciation, and self-employment income.

If you plan to file a Schedule A or Form 8853, this version will work for you.

Deluxe Online Tax Filing

If you’re a sole proprietor or have home office deductions that you’d like to file, you’ll need to upgrade to the next tier: the Deluxe level. This version costs $64.95 but you can get it for $44.95 right now. It includes everything that the Basic tier does, along with supporting a Schedule C.

Need to file Forms 4562, 8829, 4136, or 8839? Then you’ll need version Deluxe or greater.

Premium Online Tax Filing

At $89.95, this is the highest tier of filing software offered by eSmart Tax. But, like the Deluxe version, it’s on sale right now for $44.95. And, if you need to file less-common forms–such as those pertaining to the sale of a home; income from a rental property or real estate; gains, profit and loss; or if you have an S-Corp–you’ll need the Premium version.

This version supports all of the forms listed previous, as well as Schedules E, F, and K-1. You’ll also be able to file Forms 4684 and 4835, if needed.

Read our full eSmart Tax review here.


Bottom Line

Of our top picks, all five vendors above have very similar editions available based on your tax situation. There is a wide variation in what each charge for their plans. TurboTax is the highest priced, while Credit Karma is clearly the lowest. The next cheapest alternative is TaxAct with H&R Block and eSmart resting comfortably in the middle. It may come down to which program you have used in the past and are the most comfortable working with.

Downloadable Versions

For those that don’t want to prepare their taxes online, downloadable versions of the tax software are available:

  • TurboTax: $39.99 to $109.99
  • TaxACT: $24.95 to $124.90
  • H&R Block: $19.95 to $79.95 plus the cost of state returns and state e-file

Author Bio

Total Articles: 119
Chris has an MBA with a focus in advanced investments and has been writing about all things personal finance since 2015. He’s also built and run a digital marketing agency, focusing on content marketing, copywriting, and SEO, since 2016.

Article comments

Maria P says:

I’ve been using FreeTaxUsa.com for a few years now. I found it on the IRS web-site as one of the recommended free e-file sites and have been using ever since. I did all sorts of things with it – simple files, standard deductions, itemized deductions, W2 & scholarships. I file federal for free online and then file state either paper for free or many states have their own online software to file, which is also free (I’ve done 2 or 3 states online so far, separately from federal. Yes, it’s a little more work, but for the cheap, ahem, frugal of us it may work). I have been filing paper forms before freetaxusa, so am often confused why people pay to download software if it’s available online for free. I understand going to CPA if you need someone else to do your taxes, but if you DIY, then I am wondering if I am missing out on something important, and don’t know something everyone else does.

Rob Berger says:

Maria, thanks for the tip!

William says:

I have been using taxact for several years and they raised their prices significantly last year. I did my teenage son’s taxes on freetaxusa and based on that experience, I will be using them for my own taxes this year.

Uncommonsensesc says:

I too have used TaxAct for several years and was shocked by how much they’ve raised the prices. Also, as far as I’m concerned they did not have confusing pricing platforms – it was straight forward and affordable. Now I’m on the hunt for a different online filing company and will check out freetaxusa. Thanks for the tip!

Dee says:

Same situation. TacAct used to be inexpensive but the raised prices almost forced me back to doing paper taxes.

Satisfied User says:

I’d used TaxAct for 10 years but got fed up with the price hikes. I used Credit Karma this year and couldn’t have been more satisfied, despite a fairly complicated tax return.

Chris says:

I have also used TaxAct for several years but am now shopping around due to their steadily increasing prices. The TaxAct online service has an antiquated, early-2000s look and feel, with cumbersome functionality to match; for the prices they are now charging, you can do better.

Carrie Branson says:

Hr block charges for EIC $20

Stan K says:


A few note that once you use a higher level of Turbotax you can’t import in later years to lower versions, Premier to Deluxe for example. Also while other vendors like H&R block will import Turbotax that wasn’t the case from H&R to Turbotax. I use to use Turbo tax H&B with my sole proprietorship, then Intuit kept increasing its price and changed over to premier but couldn’t do switched over to H&R block for a few years. But later after getting married switched back to turbo tax and using Premier now, since that level allowed for the small business, just without all the walking through that I didn’t need anymore. By the way great podcast.


Thanks Rob, I especially like your breakdown of the prices for the different software packages. Although Turbo Tax appears to come out costing more than the other two, I need to let you know that from my own experience ( 7 years to be exact) Turbo Tax has gotten me a far larger refund than both Tax Act and H&R Block have quoted me for seven consecutive years. And they also offer better than average audit support. So, if a larger refund and some peace of mind is what most taxpayers are looking for, I suggest you revise your article to include some actual quotes so that readers don’t get discouraged by the $99.99 cap. Thanks and continue to provide quality articles for thrifty dads like myself.

Lauryn says:

Since I’m a first-year Direct Sales Consultant, I had to add my business to my taxes. I had no idea that meant my return was going to cost more. I filled out my return with the three of these and the best price I got for federal and state was $29.99. $30 for my tax return. I went back to searching and found myself at DIY Tax. I thought that Rob would want to know.

TaxAct has worked well for me. I would recommend it. I have compared it to TurboTax and found it very comparable.
The problem with $100 tax software is that soon you can just pay your accountant to do your taxes for you.

Michael Bennett says:

I have been using turbo tax online. Found it easy to use for 1040, schedule A, and State returns. However, they just sent me a letter. Someone accessed my 2013 return on 12-9-14. Now I question their security.

Christine says:

Thanks for this helpful analysis!

BTW, I tried to click through your TaxAct link but it say the url has moved.

Rob Berger says:

Christine, that’s odd. I just tried the TaxACT links and they work. Maybe it was a temporary glitch.

Kenneth says:

I used Turbotax for over 10 years but dropped them this year as their price approached $91 to do Fed, State, itemized deductions and investments. I got halfway thru Tax Act (thank goodness you don’t pay until you hit the File button) and realized they do not directly import from Betterment and Vanguard, but require a
CSV file instead. Near as I can tell, neither Betterment nor Vanguard will supply this. So I took a leap of faith and bought H&R Block Deluxe + State for $32.95 from Amazon as download software for my PC. Betterment and Vanguard imports were very easy, just enter your login credentials and the H&R Block software imported all their forms seamlessly.

Turbotax has sent me two emails begging for me to come back and offering a $25 spiff to do so but I believe they have lost me as a customer forever by their outrageous price increase this year.

Rob Berger says:

Kenneth, thanks for sharing your experience on this. TurboTax has made several mistakes this year, including the price increase. I still use them for our children’s tax returns, but they have certainly lost some customers.

Doug Anderson says:

Thank you for sharing this. I feel the same way about the huge price increase for TTax to $92 for Premier (for Itemizers and Investors). I too will try the H&RB Deluxe since they can reportedly import all investment information directly from Vanguard.

Beth says:

You stated that you didn’t understand why people would buy Deluxe software from H&R Block rather than Deluxe + State. Not all states have an income tax, thus their residents are not required to file state income tax returns. Makes sense to me.

Rob Berger says:

Good point Beth.

Jilani, M says:

Hi Rob, Very nice and productive discussion. I am in the same boat like Kenneth, been Turbo Tax customer (both Individual and Corp) for over 8 years and this years increase in prices is ridiculous. I gotta do a couple of C Corps and an S-Corp for 2014, for some friends, would you recommend the choice Kenneth has?? never tried em before though??? need advice, thanks

Queens NY

Rick says:

This season I am switching from TubroTax to TaxACT. I take a standard deduction but I have investments and for TubroTax to allow to manually enter a simple 1099B it requires me to jump all the way to premier! The table on this site says for investments you should jump to TaxAct Ultimate but I had no trouble putting investments into the free version. I actually did my entire return on both the taxact and turbotax site and came up with the same number, but I was able to file for free on one and the other wanted me to pay $55.

Bev, Y says:

None of the numbers you refer to actually matches up with what I see on H&R block. Not saying you were incorrect at the time this was published, but I think they increased their prices during the tax season, which I find ridiculous and unnecessary.

Rob Berger says:

Bev, thanks for letting us know. The prices do change throughout tax season.

Arlene G says:

Hi, and thanks for your help. I’m trying TaxAct for the first time, and I’m kind of ridiculous when dealing with this sort of thing. Will TaxAct accept log in credentials from my financial institution? UBS doesn’t support TaxAct.

Dustin says:

Not true. Turbotax charges 29.99 for state tax. And they don’t tell you that until you spent the hour doing it and got to the end. Also H&R got me about $80 less than turbotax did…. uhhhh……

cdg says:

TurboTax is a piece of junk, and has been since its very inception about 25 years ago. It looks impressive, and has many “bells and whistles”, but it is full of errors and omissions, and its “experts” need to go back to school and learn a bit about basic accounting and tax law.
Their “guarantee” (plagiarized from that of H&R Block) is equally useless, because — if/when the IRS detects their errors – TurboTax will simply claim that YOU provided the program the wrong information, and they are not responsible. (Read the fine print.)
For a very simple return consisting only of wages and interest income, it *may* do an adequate job. But you could do the same thing in less time by following the instructions for Form 1040A, and save the ridiculous fee TurboTax charges for their “service”.
But, if you have a more complicated tax situation, and especially if you have a business, depreciation, interest in a limited partnership or passive activity, or a trust, TurboTax will NOT do your return accurately. You *may* never discover their errors, unless you do the return manually and compare results, or get audited by the IRS — but the return will be inaccurate, and may cost you quite a bit of money (by overstating your income and causing you to pay more taxes than you owe, or understating it and causing you to pay more taxes, penalties and interest down the line, when your return is audited).
Stay away from “tax preparation software”. Learn how to do your own taxes, or use the services of a competent accountant.

Candace says:

I just added all my data and information to TaxAct (like I have each year for 6 years) and in order to take an itemized deduction, I had to upgrade to the $15 product. The free product is now only if you take the standard deduction. Ridiculous!

cris says:

I want yo add one thing about tax act I just discovered or had forgotten. The state tax filing fee is $9.99. My daughter, for whom I do her taxes too could have probably done them all online for free. She works in one state and lives at home but has no deductions. Gonna cost me about $40 to e-file using taxact. If did hers online for federal and two states it would probably be free but I’d have to print forms and carry numbers over and enter data several times.

Rob Berger says:

Cris, thanks for the tip. It often comes down to paying a few bucks for the convenience of using a tax package versus finding the forms and doing it on your own.

Tim says:

The 2016 TaxAct Ultimate Bundle does NOT include State filing. It is another $25 for the State Premium.

Last year, for itemized deductions and business, I paid $20 for TaxAct. This year, I paid $60.

Janet says:

Which is why I will not be using it. I have been using them for the last 4 years and they have never had a price increase like this. It is ridiculous. I have never paid more then $30 for tax software fed and state.

Bob D says:

I found the same thing last year. I switched from Turbotax Business in 2003 when my hard drive crashed And once restored, TT said it was on a different computer and I had to buy it all over again!
So it has been $2 to $20 TaxAct since then and WHAM $60, really? That’s more than my return!!
But we have to use that version because of investments!
I think We shall look elsewhere this year!

David Hudson says:

I used to use TaxAct unit they had 3 price hikes in 2.5 months from $30 in Q4 2016, $40 in January 2017 and $60 on January 30, 2017. Now its just feels like they are trying to take advantage of those who don’t purchase in the later part of the previous year. Years past haven’t been quite this bad but they do this every year. I’m calling it quits.

William says:

I have been using Taxact for the past 3 years. The price was $13.99 each year because I locked in early. This year it has gone up to $27.99. I might use them this year since I started before I noticed the price increase, but next year I will check out FreeTaxUSA. I might even do them on paper. My taxes aren’t the simplest with a (very) small business and itemizing, but it’s pretty easy if you look at last year’s return and no new situations arise.

Rodger Frego says:

I have used Taxact for the last 3 years. I was offered to use it again for free this year but have decided to try FreeTaxUSA as well. It appears Taxact is no longer going to offer free tax forms in the future and will raise their price comparable with Turbotax. I have discovered that the free tax programs are just as good as the costly ones so it doesn’t make sense to pay to file federal taxes. I live in Texas and we have no State tax so that is not an issue for us.

David OBrien says:

I have two comments on this article.

1) The publication date for this is February 1st 2017 and the title is “What Is The Cheapest Tax Software for 2017?”; however, looking in the comments I see questions from 2015. This makes no sense and makes me question if the software you’ve reviewed was actually reviewed for the 2016 tax year or if this is just a recycled article with the year changed.

2) Creditkarma is offering free tax software. A comparison of this software would have been nice as it’s a new comer to the game and I suspect is playing as a lost-leader for this year. Note, I have no affiliation with creditkarma just looking into using it this year as an alternative to turbotax.

Stephanie Colestock says:

Hello David,

This is indeed a base article that we have updated, revamped, and republished with new information. Since the companies and most of their services remain the same from year to year, it’s worth keeping the same framework in place and just refreshing the information. That’s why you see older comments. However, the information IS new for this year.

We actually did a review of Credit Karma’s tax services a few weeks back — the service certainly warrants consideration! You can read all about it here: https://www.doughroller.net/taxes/credit-karma-free-tax-filing/

Best, Stephanie
stephani[email protected]

Keith in Buffalo says:

Yeah, just did TaxAct (plus, downloaded–I will never trust online). I have been using that for 20 years, from when it used to be TaxCut. I’m furious, I can’t believe they jacked their price up from $30 to $60 this year. Not happy about that, exploring alternatives for next year, as my taxes are really simple. (Unfortunately TaxAct doesn’t seem to still have the Ultimate Bundle, as stated in the article). Paper and stamps is starting to sound more and more appealing!

Nate in Boston says:

I’m also upset with taxact for raising their prices. I will switch to another online service. But looks like they have all raised their prices. Not fair! Not cool!

Les N. Close says:

I don’t use online tax prep. My financial info is my own business. I’ve used Tax Act mid-level download since the 2008 return, when it was a pretty good deal. For privacy, I always downloaded, then pulled the Ethernet plug out of the back of the computer before installing or starting the program. I need 2 states, and until TY14 the Tax Act total was $30 to $47. For TY15 their price went way up, but I found an online coupon that got me back down to $39. This year Fed and one state is $75 ($60 just a few weeks ago) and an extra state is $38. Worse, the coupons are only good for the online prep now. Heck, at that cost I might as well add some $$ and have a pro do my taxes. I found an HR Block Premium package deal on Amazon for $30 (includes 1 state; extra states are $20). So for my taxes, $50 vs $113. Tough choice, eh? KMA, Tax Act, I’m done.

suebhoney says:

Ya know having someone else do your taxes could cost you a lot more in the event that aren’t fully apprised of all IRS does and don’t, while you retain full culpability. Do your home work on anyone you expect to represent you.

James Demers says:

I switched to H&R Block last year, after the Great TurboTax Ripoff, where they moved features I needed to the most expensive product they had. Good for that year, but for tax year 2016 the software refuses to import local taxes paid, and reported on my W2, to the New York State IT-2. It simply ignores the data that’s there. And if I over-ride the IT-2 and enter the numbers, it refuses to file the return. Nice, given that NY REQUIRES you to e-file.
Still not sure wtf to do about this – it’s infuriating, and H&R Block’s purely imaginary help and “chat” are just that: non-existent. No links to be found, and the 800 number lets you talk to a computer, which is programmed only to help you buy the product. Huge disappointment.

Cliff Hoglund says:

Shop around I purchased TurboTax Premier for $69.86 from Amazon Staples and several others are also well below what TurboTax has on their website. TurboTax Premier Comes with one State File included.

Billius says:

Someone mentioned it back in 2015, so I’ll plug it again now. Freetaxusa is a solid service if you don’t mind doing a little extra work. This mostly entails manually entering all of the information from your various forms. Federal is always free, state is $13. There’s a “deluxe” package, for $7, but you only really need it if you’re expecting that you’ll need to amend your return. To me, for $13, manually entering my forms is a small price to pay.

ralph h says:

I can only comment re HRBlock: I think the prices you note for it are WAY out of line. I’ve used HRB for at least ten years. I’ve never paid more than $30 for the deluxe version which includes both Fed and state (one state only) filing. For the last two years I’ve paid $22 and $20.

Janet L says:

I too have been using H&R Block Deluxe (Fed and state) for about 9 years now and you can always find it as a daily deal or lightening deal on Amazon which usually starts on black Friday. This year so far it has been a *daily deal* for $19.99 twice that I noticed. Last year I kept missing out but found it, again, as a lightening deal in early March. I have never paid full standard price. Note-I’ve discovered Amazon’s prices for it on black Friday are actually a few dollars more than any of their future sales.

Fe Shaw says:

I have several members of my family that I will file their taxes for them. Can I use each one of the free ones (turbo tax, hrb and tax cut?)

David Griffiths says:

Both HR Block and TurboTax will now charge you 99 bucks for Fed and State

Curt says:

FreeTaxUSA.com – have used them for 10 years, works perfect every time – we love it!!!

Steven Kadera says:

I too have used “FreeTaxUSA” for about 3 years and while I cannot know if I receive more or less of a refund, it is very easy to use and I have been satisfied…

Tom Anderson says:

I second this recommendation. I started with TurboTax which, frankly, is probably the best software but I hate that they lobby Congress to keep the tax code complicated. So I switched to TaxAct for a few years. Then they jacked up their prices. This year I discovered FreeTaxUSA and was quite pleasantly surprised. It’s not fancy but that’s why I like it. It’s clean-looking and gets out of your way. It’s a great solution for those of us who know what we’re doing and just want to get it done quickly at a fair price.

Phil says:

Agree – FreeTax USA is really good and very inexpensive! I don’t know why it wasn’t covered in this article. The part I like best is that you can view the completed forms at any point, which is helpful if you like to see how things are put together.

done with turbo says:

I’ve used Turbotax for years because of a rental. Found some old errors re: depreciation that cost me a lot I’ll never get back due to time. I used online version for 2017 and found I couldn’t access the actual forms and IRS docs like I could in the past–evidently the online version doesn’t offer that. I like to see what Turbo tax is actually filling in what form and the instructions to make sure. Once burned….not again. Cost was high and it was much more than advertised, which I found out only at the end after completing the taxes. State was outrageous. I’m going back to hand calculations. Might try Credit Karma. Turbo tax is a rip off!

KD says:

I’ve used TaxAct download in last 2 years, 2016-7 & others in prior year. Each has their scheme to harvest increasing revenue each year. Most objectionable is the ‘finish your return, to find you need x non-included feature that now cost $40- 50’. Price increases of 100% are common, you know kind of in line with inflation…..!? ! IRS, lobbyists and our reps from congress appear complicit in the ‘got ya’ revenue model. This tax crap, could all be simpler and cheaper.
A Download product is great for ‘a security hack’: Do your taxes, use fake names & address, fake social security number and (a close but) incorrect birth date. Then print , write the correct info on the forms & mail them in. Now NO TAX PREP firm has your info. (you can do this on a cloud tax service yet this is an extra level of security) Security is a matter of degree ; IRS got hacked a few years ago with citizens / tax payers confidential & private info going ….well who knows where.
Also, please update your article monthly to keep current on the price increases and new revenue schemes, it adds to your credibility.

booch221 says:

I bought the download version of Turbo Tax Premier on Ebay for $13.99 for a savings of $96. It appears legit. I’ve efiled two returns and they were accepted by the IRS.

Wilson says:

Thank you so much for the info. I just bought a turbo tax home business for $14.00 and it’s legal (read eBay’s note):
Ebay note:

We have a lot of old computers these licenses come from old computers

We will take out the key without violating any license agreements, complying with EU regulations and any copyright laws

This listing sells an authorized item and does not violate any copyright. I am the owner of, and entitled to sell, each item sold through this listing. Each item has been legally acquired and I am fully authorized to sell each item. I have and maintain the right to sell/resell this license under the first-sale doctrine. It is legal to resell this license and the sale is in conformity with EU Directive 2009/24/EC.

Neal M says:

I tried Credit Karma for my 2017 Federal return. CREDIT KARMA PREPARED MY TAXES WRONG !! The reason was form 8606. I filled it out and the software calculated the form correctly, but the information was absent from my return. When I printed the preliminary return form 8606 was there, but the information was not reflected on my form 1040. I did an online chat about the problem and the customer service person told me to not worry. Despite the fact that the form 8606 information was not reflected on the form 1040, when CK files the return the form 1040 would be correct. SOMEONE’S PANTS ARE ON FIRE !! I ended up using OnLineTaxes OLT.com which prepared my return correctly for free even though my AGI was $85K.

Nicholas Ferguson says:

Thanks for providing these cheapest tax software information and really appreciate your time and effort and update your list of software.

mat says:

FYI – credit karma doesn’t handle – live in 1 state, work in another.
Live and work in different states
You lived in one state and earned income in another state last year.

You can still file federal taxes with us, but we don’t cover your state taxes.

Jai says:

I would love for you to review priortax.com and hear your thoughts on their software. They are not free, but their service seems cheap.