Theme Layout

Boxed or Wide or Framed

Theme Translation

Display Featured Slider

Featured Slider Styles

Display Grid Slider

Grid Slider Styles

Display Trending Posts


Display Author Bio


Display Instagram Footer


Dark or Light Style

Search This Blog

Powered by Blogger.

Choosing the Right Tax Software

Disclosure: This post may contain third party affiliate links. When you click on an affiliate link within a post Broke Dolly may earn a small commission which helps support the blog and content (at no cost to you). Please check the disclosure and privacy policy pages for more details. Thank you so much for your kindness and support.

Confession time: I’ve always paid to have my taxes done by someone else. Not necessarily because I don’t think I can do them myself, I know I can. I’ve even taken a tax class!

So why haven’t I? I really don’t have a good excuse expect laziness. Needless to say, it’s expensive to pay a CPA for something you can do yourself just because you’re being lazy. It’s time for me to invest in some tax software and figure it out.

There are so many options for tax software it’s kind of crazy. Let’s start with the most logical place to start - the IRS offers Free File software for taxpayers with income below $66,000. Software is provided through the Free File Alliance, which is a consortium of twelve commercial tax preparation software providers. In case you're curious, like I was, the twelve are 1040Now Corp, Drake Enterprises, EZTaxReturn.com, FileYourTaxes.com, Free Tax Returns, H&R Block, Intuit, Liberty Tax, OnLine Taxes, TaxAct, TaxHawk and TaxSlayer.

Each software provider can set requirements to use their program so after answering some qualifying questions, such as income and state residency, they’ll let you know what your options are. The downside is you may not end up using the software you were hoping to use and some of the software’s functionality is diminished with Free File. The upside is it’s free and they open up the software two weeks earlier than the official start of tax season (January 28, 2019).

Unfortunately, I don’t qualify to use the Free File software so it’s on to looking at paid options for me. Since I refinanced my mortgage in 2018 I’m looking for something that’ll provide me with a little guidance on what might be deductible there as well as a good general support system in case I run into any issues.

The two I’m really going to focus on are TurboTax and H&R Block. And maybe TaxAct (which looks to be by far the cheapest after some quick research). I'm going to avoid the others that I've never heard of, it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with them but I'm sure I can find what I need while only researching three programs rather than researching all twelve in depth.


I’m going to start with the tax software I hear about most often - Intuit’s TurboTax. They even offer a free option if you meet certain criteria like you earn limited interest and dividend income and take the standard deduction. Since I live in New York and own my home, the standard deduction doesn’t make sense for me. Bye bye free version!

But I like Intuit because I’ve used QuickBooks in the past and I liked it. It did everything I needed it to do and it’s relatively simple. I’m hoping TurboTax shares those qualities.

One thing I like about TurboTax immediately is that their TurboTaxLive offers a CPA review of your return. It costs more money ($50 - $80 depending on which product you ultimately choose) but it may be worth it to ease my concerns. And it’s still a lot cheaper than my old ways! Even baby steps in the right direction still count.

If you enter a little bit of information about your needs TurboTax tells you the option it feels is best for you among their various packages - Free, Deluxe, Premier and Self-Employed.

TurboTax Free we already discussed.

TurboTax Deluxe, which is priced at $39.99, is recommended if you’re looking to maximize your deductions.

TurboTax Premier, which is priced at $59.99, is recommended if you own rental property or have to report capital gains/losses.

And TurboTax Self-Employed is $89.99 for all of my self-employed friends. State returns are an additional $39.99.

I’ll sum up the things I like about TurboTax:

1) Offering of a CPA review
2) Guaranteed maximum refund - TurboTax searches for over 400 deductions and credits
3) Help with refinancing deductions (check on one of my biggest concerns!)
4) Automatic import of W-2 and investment info
5) A TurboTax Community forum
6) Audit support (but if you want representation it'll cost extra)
7) An accuracy guarantee - if the goof is on them they’ll eat the associated IRS fees

What I don’t like is the cost. It’s the most expensive option I saw.

H&R Block

Now onto H&R Block, another common name in tax prep. Right off the bat I notice some similarities, including a free version! At this point I’ve given up on filing my taxes for free, but if you have a simple return it’ll only help you! H&R Block offers tax pro help but it doesn’t mention anything about CPAs. And it’s going to cost you with a price tag of $119.99.

H&R Block has similar options as TurboTax - Free, Deluxe, Premium and Self-Employed. The prices are slightly more wallet friendly at $29.99, $49.99 and $79.99, respectively. Similar to TurboTax, you’ll want the Deluxe if you own a home or have other itemized deductions and the Premium in you have a rental or other investments. State returns are an additional $36.99.

Here’s what I like about H&R Block:

1) Guaranteed maximum refund
2) Easy import of tax documents
3) A Tax Help forum
4) Audit support (representation for a fee)
5) An accuracy guarantee
6) Physical locations - including one about a mile from home - just in case of emergency
7) A 5% bonus for loading your refund on an Amazon card. I would never use this in a million years because I’m not a huge Amazon shopper but the idea is pretty cool

What I don’t like is the absence of CPA help. It may be silly but a CPA can quell fears I have that a tax pro just can’t. Let's be honest, "tax pro" is pretty vague and when I looked up my local office none of the employees were listed as CPAs. Also I didn’t find mention of my refinancing deductions.


Ok, now the final contender! TaxAct made this list because it’s the lowest priced option of software programs I’ve heard of. I’m a sucker for familiarity.

TaxAct offers five products - Free, Basic (if you have dependents or college expenses), Deluxe (for homeowners), Premier (if you have investments or rental income) and Self-Employed. Prices are $9.95 for Basic, $29.95 for Deluxe, $34.95 for Premier (which also offers prioritized support) and $49.95 for Self-Employed.

I don’t see the point in going for the Basic when it seems like you could file with TurboTax and H&R Block for free. And the Deluxe is the same price as H&R Block’s Deluxe.

Having said that, here’s what I do like about TaxAct:

1) TaxAct offers a price lock guarantee. The above listed prices will not change as we get further into the thicket of tax season. The same cannot be said about TurboTax and H&R Block
2) TaxAct offers multiple gift card bonuses if you choose to upload your return to a gift card - they offer Home Depot if you’re looking to make home repairs and Carnival Cruise Line if you’re planning on a cruise vacation in 2019! There’s others too but my point is it’s not just Amazon
3) TaxAct is cheaper for the Premier and Self-Employed options
4) An accuracy guarantee

Overall, I’d love to pay less but I’m nervous to sacrifice quality to save a few dollars. Especially at this point in the game where I’m new to this whole filing my own taxes thing.

I’m going to choose TurboTax because of their ability to offer a CPA if I run into any trouble. TurboTax is also the only one that mentioned anything about refinancing deductions (or at least the only one I saw mention anything about refinancing deductions after poking around each website for a good half hour) and was rated easiest to use by Nerd Wallet.

If things go well I may consider switching to one of the less expensive options in the future. Have you tried any of these programs? Do you use one I didn’t consider? Let me know how you like it!
Broke Dolly
Share This Post :

You Might Also Like

No comments:

Post a Comment