How To Choose the Best Tax Prep Software in 2023? Features, Cost, and Deductions

2:39 PM, Apr 26, 2023
4:44 PM, May 02, 2023

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Are you tired of dreading tax season every year? Say goodbye to the hassle and stress of filing taxes withTurboTax- the top-notch software that makes tax preparation a breeze. 

No matter if you're an employee, entrepreneur or student, we've got you covered. We've done the research and found TurboTax to be the best tax prep software available. 

With TurboTax, you can confidently and comfortably file your taxes knowing you have the right tools at your fingertips. Don't let tax season get you down - make it a breeze with TurboTax, and finally say goodbye to those tax season worries.

Top Companies for the Best Tax Prep Software

  • TurboTax: Best tax prep software overall
  • TaxSlayer: Best tax prep software for excellent customer support
  • H&R Block: Best tax prep software for more than one way to file
  • TaxAct: Best tax prep software for small business owners
  • Jackson Hewitt: Best tax prep software for multiple state tax returns

Honorable mention:

  • E-file: Best for year-round discounts

1. TurboTax - Best Tax Prep Software Overall

TurboTax Tax Prep Software Pros:

  • Free paperwork for the armed forces
  • Simple document import, even for stock and cryptocurrency
  • Several options for filing
  • Easy to operate

TurboTax Tax Prep Software Cons:

  • Abandoned the IRS's Free File program
  • The quality of customer assistance is inconsistent
  • Compared to alternatives, it's somewhat pricey

Anybody whose investments make filing taxes more challenging than a 1040-EZ should consider using TurboTax. The intuitive user interface walks you through every step of entering your income and spending without skipping a beat

If you get stuck, you can upgrade to have a real person assist you or take over the whole tax preparation process.

If you're searching for a more cost-effective way to file your taxes, you may want to seek other best tax prep software than TurboTax, which has the highest price tag on our list. 

But, if you are on active duty, in the Reserves, or the National Guard, filing is free. There have been reports of customers being harshly handled or even hung up on when they call in for assistance.

The corporation announced its withdrawal from the IRS Free File Program in late January 2022 for the 2021 tax year, providing its clients very little warning.

Cost to File Federal Taxes with Turbo Tax Programs: 4/5 

TurboTax will cost you the most if you're looking for the best tax prep software. Filing elsewhere will save you money unless you're a die-hard devotee. The cost will increase significantly if you hire an expert to help you with your taxes.

Cost To File State Taxes with Turbo Tax Programs: 4/5 

Your state return could be free if you have a simple tax return and sign up for the TurboTax Free Edition. However, TurboTax Deluxe starts at $59. This might add up quickly if you have earned money in multiple states, as the price per state costs an additional $59.

Free Version of TurboTax Tax Preparation: 4/5 

After announcing their withdrawal from the IRS Free File Program in January 2022, TurboTax made it impossible for low-income taxpayers to use the service for free. 

The most basic returns, including those for W-2 wages, child tax credits, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, may be filed for free.

Ease of Use of Turbotax Tax Preparation: 5/5

TurboTax's user interface guides you through each tax return component, from income to deductions to credits, to ensure you don't miss anything. It's like having artificial intelligence guide you through the tax process. 

Live assistance and takeovers are also available in which tax experts work on your taxes alongside you or take them over entirely.

Overall Score of TurboTax Tax Preparation Software: 4.25/5 

>>Try out TurboTax now and see what it can do for you

2. TaxSlayer - Best Tax Prep Software for Excellent Customer Support

TaxSlayer Tax Prep Software Pros:

  • Provides free support via phone and email
  • Ensures maximum precision in tax preparation
  • Military members on active-duty are exempt from filing costs
  • Offers affordable pricing compared to other programs in the market

TaxSlayer Tax Prep Software Cons:

  • There is no desktop-based software
  • Upgrade required for instant help
  • Only few features for the free version

TaxSlayer, in contrast to TurboTax, which charges $119 for its most expensive package for self-employed persons, is reasonably priced at $59.95. 

For the low, low price of $59.95, you may get access to a qualified tax expert for the year to answer any of your most important and complex income tax problems.

If you'd rather not upload your taxes to the cloud, even at a discount, you won't be able to use TaxSlayer since it doesn't provide a desktop software version. Remember that the free filing option has certain restrictions.

Cost to File Federal Taxes with Tax Slayer Programs: 4/5

Compared to the $25 flat cost charged by Jackson Hewitt, TaxSlayer is the second-cheapest option on our list of the best tax prep software. Compared to TaxAct, the next best-priced software option, their self-employed version is almost $40 cheaper.

Cost to File State Taxes with Tax Slayer Programs: 3/5 

TaxSlayer's state tax return filing service is reasonably priced at $39.95 per state. This is more affordable than the per-state filing fees charged by TaxAct ($54.95), TurboTax ($59), and H&R Block($49) but not as excellent as Jackson Hewitt's ($25) option to submit multiple state returns.

Free Version of TaxSlayer Tax Preparation: 4.5/5

Unlike some of its rivals, TaxSlayer's free edition allows you to deduct interest on student loans and claim education credits. If you are currently serving in the armed forces, you are eligible for free filing at any level.

Ease of Use of TaxSlayer Tax Preparation: 5/5

TaxSlayer's UI is excellent, on par with industry leaders like TurboTax and H&R Block. A similar set of questions guides the procedure, and you can easily navigate between different parts of the site. 

Key concepts are defined with "learn more" links for further reading. The "help" button provides helpful information about accessible assistance.

Overall Score of TaxSlayer Tax Preparation: 4.1/5

>>Check out TaxSlayer now

3. H&R Block - Best Tax Prep Software for More Than One Way to File

H&R Block Tax Prep Software Pros:

  • There are several options for filing
  • The free edition has more options for fillable forms
  • A consultant may help an ex-pat file taxes online
  • Many extras are available
  • Choices for every financial situation

H&R Block Tax Prep Software Cons:

  • Mishandling of complex tax circumstances is possible
  • Using an adviser incurs additional costs
  • On-demand service comes at an additional cost

H&R Block is well-known for its 10,000 sites globally, making it accessible to American citizens at home and abroad. It may also be filed electronically, either alone or with the assistance of a tax professional.

It's perfect for filing a somewhat more complex return

 than you can with most other solutions on our list due to its user-friendliness and extensive forms in the free version.

On-demand assistance, however, comes at a higher price. The same applies if you meet with a tax professional in a physical H&R Block office. 

Repeatedly, customers have complained that neither online DIY filing nor returns submitted by tax specialists can appropriately process increasingly complex tax returns.

Cost to File Federal Taxes with H&R Block Programs: 3/5 

H&R Block is the second most costly best tax prep software compared to the other options provided. Although it shares similar plan prices with TurboTax, the cost of filing your taxes with TurboTax might significantly increase if you decide to utilize any of the optional add-ons. 

Cost to File State Taxes with H&R Block Programs: 3.5/5 

The cost of filing your state tax return may range from $0 to $49, depending on the complexity of your return. That's better than TurboTax, which charges $59 per state return, but not as excellent as TaxSlayer, which charges just $39.95.

Free Version of H&R Block Tax Preparation: 5/5

The free version offered by H&R Block has more features than most other options. Users may submit information relevant to the saver's credit, alimony, some retirement contributions, deductible student loan interest, and lifetime learning credit, among other things, by filling out schedules 1 and 3 of the 1040 form.

Ease of Use of H&R Block Tax Preparation: 4.5/5

H&R Block's software is user-friendly due to its simple interface. The ordinary user would not be acquainted with terms and topics with several integrated explanations and "learn more" links. You may do so effortlessly if you've been using another tax service and want to switch to H&R Block.

Overall Score of H&R Tax Preparation Software: 4/5

>>See more information about H&R Block

4.TaxAct - Best Tax Prep Software for Small Business Owners

TaxAct Tax Prep Software Pros:

  • 100% guaranteed accuracy
  • TaxAct's Bookmarks make it simple to organize your return
  • You may save 32% compared to TurboTax's bundle for the self-employed
  • Highest refund assurance

TaxAct Tax Prep Software Cons:

  • More difficult to operate
  • Expensive state returns
  • The feedback from customers is uniformly negative

If you're self-employed this year, TurboTax could be too pricey at $119, but TaxAct is $94.95 instead. If your return has an issue and it is determined that TaxAct was at fault, you are eligible for a $100,000 refund.

Conversely, TaxAct costs more than its competitors (except TurboTax) for state returns, so if you resided in more than one state last year, you may want to compare prices carefully to choose the one that would save you the most money. Plus, TaxAct Bookmarks allow you to track where you've been in the interface.

If you aren't familiar with the best tax prep software, you may find their user interface too difficult to use. Reviews from buyers express displeasure with unexpected price hikes. They also complain that after you reach the checkout page, you can't go back to review your information.

Cost to File Federal Taxes with TaxAct Programs: 4/5 

With a starting price range of $46.95 to $94.95, TaxAct is priced similarly to the competition. H&R Block is the next most expensive option at $59 to $119, while TaxSlayer andJackson Hewitt are the least expensive alternatives starting at $29.95 and $25, respectively.

Cost to File State Taxes with TaxAct Programs: 2/5 

TaxAct's state filing fee ranges from $39.95 to $54.95, making it one of the most expensive options. If you split last year across various states, you should probably choose a different choice.

Free Version of TaxAct Tax Preparation: 5/5

For those with the simplest federal tax filings, TaxAct offers a free version. Unemployment, W-2s, and dependents are all addressed.

Ease of Use of Tax Act Tax Preparation: 5/5

Compared to TurboTax and H&R Block, TaxAct's user interface is quite familiar. It guides you through each part of the tax return. TaxAct's UI is more navigable and contains more embedded explanations than H&R Block's.

Overall Score of TaxAct Tax Preparation Software: 4/5

>> Compare TaxAct to the competitors

5. Jackson Hewitt - Best Tax Prep Software for Multiple State Tax Returns

Jackson Hewitt Tax Prep Software Pros:

  • Simple to file either online or in person
  • Six thousand stores, half of which are located within Walmarts
  • Personal interaction with clients
  • Online tax preparation help is accessible
  • Delivery with a drop

Jackson Hewitt Tax Prep Software Cons:

  • Franchised sites, hence the quality of service could be questionable
  • Not a good option for more involved tax returns
  • Complaints about failed promises and oversights

Jackson Hewitt might be a viable option if you filed taxes in more than one state last year. Their state tax returns service covers many states for just $25. Half of the 6,000 sites that may be found inside Walmarts make it easy to file in person.

The fact that Jackson Hewitt franchises its offices raises serious concerns since subpar work by tax preparers frequently goes unpunished. A common concern is that tax preparers lack professionalism and customer service abilities.

Workers routinely recommend more costly things to customers, regardless of whether or not such products are needed.

Jackson Hewitt's online filing process may be too burdensome if you have a more complex tax position, such as investment properties, rental income, or self-employment income and costs. You may wish to choose a different solution that is more user-friendly, like TurboTax, if you are a novice filer.

Cost to File State Taxes with Jackson Hewitt Programs: 5/5

No matter how complicated your tax situation is, Jackson Hewitt's online tax filing service will only cost you $25. That's the most competitive offer we've seen thus far. Compared to TurboTax or H&R Block ($119) for self-employed filers, it's a steal.

Cost to File State Taxes with Jackson Hewitt Programs: 5/5

Filing state taxes will cost you $25, no matter how much you moved about last year. Only Jackson Hewitt does not have a separate fee for each state.

Free Version of Jackson Hewitt Tax Preparation: 1/5 

Only Jackson Hewitt does not provide a free version of their best tax prep software. If money is tight, consider using one of the other services that offer a free tax filing alternative.

Ease of Use of Jackson Hewitt Tax Preparation: 3/5 

Jackson Hewitt might be an excellent choice if your tax position is straightforward and you don't have any assets, rental properties, or business revenue or costs. If your scenario is more complex, you should explore elsewhere for a more user-friendly interface.

Overall Score of Jackson Hewitt Tax Preparation Software: 3.5/5

>>Find out more about Jackson Hewitt here

How We Chose the Best Tax Prep Software

We compared the most widely used options to identify the best tax prep software. Here are the four factors we considered:

  • How much it would cost to submit a federal tax return
  • How much it would cost to file a state tax return
  • Whether or not a free version was offered
  • How user-friendly the interface was

Each best tax prep software was ranked on a scale from one to five for the four indicators used in the comparison.

>>Try out TurboTax now and see what it can do for you

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Tax Prep Software

We answer the most common inquiries regarding selecting the best tax prep software.

Do You Want Desktop Tax Software or Online Tax Software?

The best tax prep software is another example of the widespread availability of online and offline versions of current software.

For instance, TurboTax may be cloud-based, entirely web-based, or locally installed on your PC. There are good points and bad points to both.

The safety of the organization you're dealing with should be your priority while doing your taxes online. The quantity of sensitive information needed to file taxes is a prime target for hackers and identity thieves. 

Find out if there have been any data breaches at this firm and whether you can trust them.

The issue of portability is your next logical inquiry.

Is there a mobile app you can download to help you file your taxes on the go? How simple is it to transition between tools? Consider the amount of storage space required for desktop applications.

Is there enough free space for the software to function without impeding the machine's performance? You should also consider whether or not you will require technical assistance or the input of a tax expert.

The desktop version of the best tax prep software may not provide as many customization choices.

>>Try out TurboTax now and see what it can do for you

Does the Price of the Software Include State Tax Returns?

Consider whether a state return is included in the price of the program you're considering. 

Some alternatives, like Jackson Hewitt, demand a flat amount regardless of how many states you file in. In contrast, others provide free state return preparation but a fee to electronically submit your return.

If you filed income tax returns in more than one state last year, you might want to look into the best tax prep software that charges less per state or include at least one state in its base fee.

See more about how income tax by state works here.

Do You Need Help With Your Tax Deductions?

Use tax software that is designed to assist you in keeping track of your itemized deductions if you plan on claiming them. Ensuring you don't miss any deductions is easier using interview-style software like H&R Block's.

Be sure the best tax prep software you use supports reporting your income and expenditures as a self-employed person using Schedule C. It's possible that using the standard deduction would save you the most money, but it's still worth figuring out.

Should You Make Use of Free Tax Software?

Free tax preparation software is a great option if your tax situation is straightforward. Free tax software should account for W-2 wages, dependents, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Certain best tax prep software provide lifetime learning credit, alimony, eligible retirement contributions, saver's credit, and student loan interest deductibility. Those earning below the IRS-mandated level are eligible for free federal tax return filing.

How Much Tax Software Support Do You Need?

You should be able to contact technical support for any software you use if you have any particular queries about utilizing the program. Depending on the provider, you might be waiting anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours for a reply.

If you need assistance with your return, consider choosing the best tax prep software with access to tax specialists for an additional fee. Conversations might take place by IM, email, or telephone.

How Do I Choose the Best Tax Prep Software for Me?

It is important to foresee all of your requirements for the best tax prep software. Think about how much you're willing to spend, how complicated the program is, whether or not it includes a state return, and whether or not you qualify for the free version.

>>Try out TurboTax now and see what it can do for you

Best Tax Prep Software Comparison Summary


  • Free Edition: If you are eligible, you can get free federal and state tax filings
  • Deluxe package: Federal tax filing costs $59, while state tax filing costs $59
  • Premier package: Federal tax preparation costs $89, while state tax preparation costs $59
  • Self Employed package: Filing federal taxes for $119 and state taxes for $59
  • TurboTax Live Assisted package: Depending on the bundle chosen, costs range from $89 (plus State) to $209 (plus State)
  • TurboTax Full Service package: Based on your preferred bundle, costs range from $209 (plus State) to $399 (plus State)

>>Try out TurboTax now and see what it can do for you


  • Military and Simply Free: Free for federal tax returns
  • Classic: Costs $29.95 for federal returns
  • Premium: Starts at $49.95 for federal returns
  • Self-Employed: Costs $59.95 for federal returns

State tax return filing costs $39.95 per state for all services except TaxSlayer Military, which is free of charge for the first state.

>>Check out TaxSlayer now

H&R Block

  • Free Online: Free service that costs nothing for every state filed
  • Federal Filing Fees: Range from $59.99 to $119.99
  • State Filing Fees: $0 to $49 for each state

>>See more information about H&R Block


  • Free package: Ideal for basic federal filers and costs $39.95 per state filed
  • State Filing Fees: $39.95 to $54.95 per state
  • Federal Filing Fees: Range from $47.95 to $94.95

>> Compare TaxAct to the competitors

Jackson Hewitt

  • State Filing Fee: $25 for a limitless number of state returns
  • Federal Filing Fee: $25 Minimum
  • No free version

>>Try Jackson Hewitt

Honorable Mention: E-file

  • For federal taxes, the Free Federal Basic Software is cost-free
  • TaxSlayer provides three services: Deluxe Plus E-file, Premium Plus E-file, and Free Federal Basic Software
  • For federal taxes, Deluxe Plus E-file costs $20.99 and comes with extra capabilities
  • For federal taxes, Premium Plus E-file is $37.49 and has additional capabilities
  • Each state tax return submitted will cost $22.49 for all three services

>>Learn more about E-file here

Summary: Best Tax Prep Software

Congratulations! You're now equipped with the knowledge to tackle tax season 2023 with ease. Our top five selections for the best tax prep software will help you save big and streamline your filing process.

But that's not all - we've also provided additional options for those seeking discounts, free software, or expert assistance. By taking advantage of these resources, you can optimize your deductions and maximize your refund.

So don't wait any longer - start your tax preparation journey now and reap the rewards. With H&R Block, TaxAct, Jackson Hewitt, TurboTax, TaxSlayer, or our honorable mention E-file, you'll be well on your way to stress-free filing. Trust us, the benefits are worth it!

>>Try out TurboTax now and see what it can do for you

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