As if tax season isn’t stressful enough, now the coronavirus has added to Americans’ angst. But look at it this way: While you’re hunkered down in your home, you’ll have more time to carefully and efficiently prepare your taxes, which could mean less mistakes and more money in terms of a refund. Another bit of good news (and we’ll take all the good news we can get!) — the U.S. government has extended tax season, pushing the deadline back to July 15. The following tax software providers could help you prepare your taxes not only correctly but also effortlessly, which just might be priceless.
H & R Block | Pricing: Free to $89.95 for federal; free to $59.90 for state; $49 to $229 for tax pro review
H&R Block’s free tax software will let you file your Form 1040 and help you take advantage of several common tax breaks, while also allowing you to file schedules 1, 2, and 3, which cover more complex issues like business income, alimony, and multiple deductions and credits. H&R Block’s paid online versions require an additional fee for state returns. The downloadable versions of the Deluxe + State, Premium, and Premium & Business programs all include a free state return with your federal return. An intuitive help menu guides you through the process.
TaxAct | Pricing: Free to $124.90 for federal; free to $49.95 for state; free tax pro support for paid editions
The free edition includes both federal and state returns and allows you to import data from previous returns filed by TurboTax or H&R Block. Standard options are available, as are calculators and planning tools designed to help identify and take into account any potential changes in your tax situation. TaxAct’s paid editions offer live support from tax professionals, either over the phone (Deluxe+) or online with screen sharing (Premier+ and Self Employed+). Paid editions of TaxAct online do not include state returns, which will run you $40 with the Deluxe+ and Premier+ editions, and $50 with the Self Employed+ edition. However, TaxAct’s downloadable versions — with the exception of Basic — include one free state return.
Credit Karma | Pricing: Free
Feel free to try Credit Karma, the newest tax software provider on this list. Credit Karma’s free filing services cover simple returns as well as all major IRS schedules and forms, even those that are more complicated than average. In addition, Credit Karma allows you to import returns from previous years even if you completed them using a competitor. Another bonus: Credit Karma offers a maximum refund guarantee and free audit defense. The company will reimburse you with up to $100 in gift cards if you determine you can get a bigger refund with one of its competitors, and it will provide free consultation and assistance if you get audited.
TurboTax | Pricing: Free to $109.99 for federal; free to $39.99 for state; $50 to $230 for tax pro review
TurboTax’s free edition includes filing of simple federal and state returns, and also comes with an audit support guarantee offering free guidance if you’re audited. The Deluxe and Premier editions of TurboTax line up your personal information to more than 350 tax deductions to check your eligibility, and also review your bank account to identify potentially tax-deductible expenditures. TurboTax’s paid editions don’t come with a free state return, which can cost an additional $40. TurboTax Self-Employed offers the same features as Premier, plus home office deduction support for independent contractors and freelancers. For an additional cost, you can opt to file with TurboTax Live and consult with a CPA who’ll review your return before you file to make sure you haven’t missed any possible credits or deductions.