Taxes aren’t fun, and they’re even less fun if you do everything yourself. But even though there are much better things you’d rather do with your time, it can be worth the time and financial investment to use one of the popular DIY tax programs out there.
The problem is that they’re all a bit different. Which one’s the best for you? Well, it depends on your personal situation. Here’s a review of the biggest ones to help you decide.
TurboTax has been around for a while, and probably won’t go away anytime soon. They have reputation for being the best DIY program, and there’s a reason for that.
Compared to every other program, TurboTax is the most thorough. It stays up to date with current laws, points out possible deductions that other programs won’t catch, and is very user-friendly. If you have a somewhat complicated tax profile-such as having kids, buying a house and starting a business all in the same year- TurboTax is a great choice.
The only problem is that TurboTax is also the most expensive. If you have a fairly basic return, it may not be worth the extra investment in this one, because the other programs would work just fine.
TaxSlayer is often used by military members because it allows them to file for free. It doesn’t save a huge chunk of change, but is a nice gesture towards servicemen and women.
It’s also easy to use, and is able to find most deductions in your taxes. Everything from charity donations and college tuition to small business purchases will be pointed out and explained.
There are two main downsides to TaxSlayer. The first is that if your taxes are complicated, this program won’t help as much as something more robust. It has most deductions and tax laws accounted for, but not all.
The other downside is that if you need to re-download your paperwork in the future, you have to pay TaxSlayer a fee. You can download it for free for a certain period of time after filing, but after that is when a fee is required.
Another popular option, H&R Block has multiple tiers that allow you to choose something as powerful as you feel is necessary. For example, you can choose the Basic if you don’t have investments or charitable donations to account for. If you do have investments, something like the Deluxe may be a better choice.
H&R Block’s software is supposedly based on the same thing that their tax centers use, so it is reliable. They have a reputation for getting the maximum tax refund they can for their clients, so these programs seem to work well.
There are a few other choices out there like Tax Act, Jackson Hewitt and OnePriceTaxes. Most of them work just fine, so it’s mainly a matter of how complicated your tax refund is to complete and how much you’re willing to spend.
For the most part, it makes sense to get the most powerful program you can afford. Even if it costs a little more, there’s a good chance it can get you a higher refund and pay for itself.