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Best Tax Software of 2021

Tax season started late this year, on February 12th instead of the usual mid-January date. That means you have four fewer weeks to do your least favorite annual chore. With time short, you might consider doing your taxes yourself at home. It can be cheaper, but how reliable is tax software nowadays? BillCutterz is here to help! Here is a breakdown of what is offered by the three best-known names in tax services. 

Please note: Some of the software available have age and income requirements, so be sure to look for those restrictions. 

  1. Intuit TurboTax comes out on top in most reviews for a variety of reasons. TurboTax has increased its usability every year and is now considered one of the easiest-to-use platforms out there. There are more bells and whistles, like full audit back-up, if you want to pay for it. Otherwise, TurboTax’s free options, if you qualify, and ease of use makes it number one on many “best of” lists for tax software platforms.

          Pros: 

        • Free version with paid additional services
        • Ease of use
        • The software asks you many questions along the way, including intelligent questions in response to your entries
        • Will import your information from the IRS
        • Offers a CPA review of your return  
        • “Chat with a pro” option available while you fill out your forms
        • eFiling for both federal and state taxes
        • Offers direct deposit of your return for those that qualify

          Cons:

        • Charges you to eFile state taxes at the same time you eFile your federal taxes; otherwise, you must file your federal return, then start from scratch with your state return.
        • If you have taken them up on additional services that have resulted in a charge, they charge you a fee to pay your total using your tax return monies. The other option is to pay a slightly lower fee right then. 
        • Does not provide the forms for student loan interest deductions nor the fees and tuition statements.

Special Note: TurboTax also offers, but apparently doesn’t broadcast, a software platform called IRS FreeFile by TurboTax. This software package allows for all free filing and no upsell ads. However, you do have to qualify financially, so access is limited. Check the website to see if you qualify. 

  1. H&R Block offers a free version of their software and is cited as one of the best if you have a simple return. Simple returns are usually defined as returns that do not include at-home businesses or freelance work, no investments or income from rentals. If you know you are claiming straight income that comes with a W-2, and minimal complications, or you are a student, H&R Block might be the software for you.

          Pros: 

        • Free and paid versions available
        • Includes the deduction for student loan Interest as well as the fees and tuition statements
        • Offers free eFiling of federal and state taxes
        • Multiple options for filing your returns with them
        • If you opt to pay for it, you can have a wide variety of support options
        • Their help library is extensive
        • Can file “virtually” and have a pro do your taxes
        • Money back guarantee
        • Tax pro review for a fee

          Cons:

        • Seems to struggle with complex tax returns 
        • Chat function has been criticized
        • Live support costs extra
        • Interface has been characterized as “clunky” 
        • No auditing support

3.   Jackson Hewett Online, while less well-known in terms of tax software, has a great reputation for its in-person services. Jackson Hewitt began offering eFiling and tax prep through their website in 2014, which means it has had less time on the market compared to other tax software platforms. 

          Pros: 

        • Free options for filing
        • Great reputation as a tax preparing service
        • Real-time chat support
        • Maximum Refund Guarantee
        • 100% Accuracy Guarantee
        • Satisfaction Guarantee that provides for return of your fees if you are unsatisfied with their product
        • You can always go to one of their brick-and-mortar locations if you are having software issues to get in-person help
        • Software walks you through step-by-step

          Cons:

        • W-2 upload into your return is only available to some, depending on your employer
        • Does not allow you to upload a photo of your W-2 as other software has begun to allow
        • Only offers audit support if you use their in-person services
        • Cannot file with dependents unless you purchase the next level up of their software
        • No support for student loan interest
        • Not the best choice if you are a business owner or freelancer

Doing your own taxes doesn’t need to be a nightmare. Using software to assist you in filing taxes takes a lot of pain out of doing taxes. The caveat here is, if your financial life is a little more complicated you should consult a tax professional. While costing more than tax software, using a CPA or other pro will give you peace of mind.

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