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TaxAct vs. TurboTax 2024

Here's how TurboTax and TaxAct compare.
Tina Orem
Sabrina Parys
Alana Benson
By Alana Benson,  Sabrina Parys and  Tina Orem 
Updated
Edited by Chris Hutchison

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Competition is fierce among the biggest tax-prep software providers. TurboTax may be more widely recognized, but TaxAct is a fierce competitor with its affordable tax help.

FREE TIERS

$0 + $39.99 per state filed.

For dependents, simple filers who need help with college expenses, unemployment or retirement income.

$0 + $0 per state filed.

It allows you to file a 1040 for free, but you can’t itemize or file Schedules 2 or 3.

Roughly 37% of taxpayers are eligible. TurboTax Free Edition supports Form 1040 and limited tax credits only.

PAID PACKAGES

Deluxe $29.99 +$39.99 per state filed (Xpert Assist: $89.98; $39.99).

This option is ideal for homeowners and those who need to consider childcare expenses, student loan payments, deductions, credits and adjustments.

Premier $39.99 + $39.99 per state filed (Xpert Assist: $99.98; $39.99).

Premier is good for investors who need to report capital gains and losses and those who have sold a home or own a rental property.

Self-Employed $69.99 + $39.99 per state filed (Xpert Assist: $129.98; $39.99).

This tier is good for freelancers, contractors and small-business owners. Includes access to Schedule C and Schedule F.

Promotion: NerdWallet users get 25% off federal and state filing costs.

Live Assisted Basic $0 + $0 per state (until 3/31/24 only). $89 + $54 per state thereafter.

Free edition, plus access to a tax pro, advice and a final review.

TurboTax Free Edition supports Form 1040 and limited tax credits only; roughly 37% of taxpayers qualify.

Deluxe $39 + $39 per state.

Itemize and claim several tax deductions and credits. Works well for business income but no expenses.

Premium $89 + $39 per state.

Investment reporting and rental income (Schedules D and E, and K-1s), plus business income, expenses on a Schedule C, home office deductions and features for freelancers.

Access to tax pro support requires upgrading to TurboTax's Live Assisted packages, which range from $0 to $169, plus state fees.

Promotion: NerdWallet users can save up to an additional 10% on TurboTax.


One note on prices: Providers frequently change them. You can verify the latest price by clicking through to each provider's site.

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Transparent pricing

Hassle-free tax filing* is $50 for all tax situations — no hidden costs or fees.
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Faster filing

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Features and ease of use

Only one entity determines how the math works on a tax return, and that’s the IRS. So unless there’s a programming error, you should get the same numerical “answer” no matter which tax software you use. But you still have to feed the software all of your information, and there are a million ways to do that. Which is why we look at features and ease of use — we want to know which offerings are least likely to make you want to pull your hair out.

TurboTax

TurboTax’s interface is like a chat with a tax preparer, and you can skip around if you need to. A banner running along the side keeps track of where you stand in the process and flags areas you still need to complete.

Embedded links throughout the process offer tips, explainers and other resources. And help buttons can connect you to the searchable knowledge base, on-screen help and more.

TaxAct

TaxAct has a similar look and feel, with an interview process guiding you along. You can skip around easily, and a banner running down the side keeps track of how far along you are.

Embedded links throughout offer tips, explainers and other resources, and the help center links to a searchable knowledge base.

Both TurboTax and TaxAct allow you to switch from a different software provider and offer tools to help you calculate the deduction value of donated items (though neither TurboTax nor TaxAct offer this at the free tier). TurboTax has an app, but TaxAct does not.

Support

TurboTax and TaxAct offer inline help and searchable knowledge bases, and tech support is available as well. Both providers also offer paid upgrades to packages that offer tax support from knowledgeable pros.

TurboTax

TurboTax Live offers a one-on-one review with a tax pro before you file, as well as unlimited live tax advice. You can make an appointment or talk on the fly to a tax pro via one-way video (you see them, but they see your screen only).

TurboTax Live Full Service does away with tax software altogether. Instead, you upload your tax documents and a human puts together your tax return. Prices range from $169 to $359 for federal returns depending on complexity, plus additional costs per state return.

TaxAct

TaxAct offers affordable help through its Xpert Assist packages. XpertAssist gets you unlimited screen-sharing access to a tax expert. You submit a question and then the right expert will reach out over the phone. Users can screen share to help the experts better understand their questions. TaxAct says its tax pros are CPAs, enrolled agents or other tax specialists. TaxAct also offers free reviews before you file.

Refunds, audits and other considerations

Both TurboTax and TaxAct let you receive a federal refund via direct deposit to a bank account — that’s the fastest option. Other options both offer include getting an old-fashioned paper check, applying the refund to next year’s taxes or directing the IRS to buy U.S. Savings Bonds with your refund.

Both providers offer an option to have your refund loaded onto a prepaid card. (These cards may come with fees, so be sure to factor that into your decision.) And both let you use your refund to pay for your tax-prep fees (but there is a separate fee for that, too).

If you are audited, it’s important to know what kind of support you’re getting from your tax software. First, be sure you know the difference between “support” and “defense.” With most providers, audit support (or “assistance”) typically means guidance about what to expect and how to prepare — that’s it. Audit defense, on the other hand, gets you full representation before the IRS from a tax professional.

TurboTax gives everyone free audit support from a tax pro to help you understand what’s going on if you get that dreaded letter about your tax return. If you want audit defense that’s included with TurboTax Live Full Service for an additional $49.

TaxAct partners with ProtectionPlus to offer its clients free, full-service audit assistance, but audit defense costs $49.95.

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Simple tax filing with a $50 flat fee for every scenario

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With this user-friendly tax software, registered NerdWallet members pay one fee, regardless of your tax situation. Plus, you'll get free support from tax experts. Sign up for access today.

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TurboTax vs. TaxAct: Which one is right for you?

TurboTax may reign supreme when it comes to tools and integrations, but that doesn’t mean the provider’s overall offerings are the perfect fit for every user.

TaxAct’s paid packages cost less, and they come with affordable upgrades for human tax help support if you need it. This makes TaxAct a great one-stop shop for both seasoned and beginner filers who might feel at ease knowing that help is available should they need it.

TurboTax, on the other hand, has a long-standing reputation for its ease of use, including a well-reviewed mobile app and plenty of its own human support options at a cost. This may make the provider a better choice for those who are willing to pay a little bit extra for the bells and whistles of white-glove tax prep.

How TurboTax and TaxAct compare with other providers?

  • Federal: $29.99 to $69.99. Free version available for simple tax returns only.

  • State: $39.99 per state.

  • All filers get access to Xpert Assist for free.

Promotion: NerdWallet users get 25% off federal and state filing costs.

  • Federal: $35 to $85. Free version available for simple tax returns only.

  • State: $0 to $37 per state.

  • Unlimited tax pro help included in paid packages.

  • Federal: $39 to $89. Free version available for Form 1040 and limited credits only. Roughly 37% of filers qualify.

  • State: $0 to $39 per state.

  • Live Assisted Basic is free through March 31.

Promotion: NerdWallet users can save up to an additional 10% on TurboTax.

  • Federal: $22.95 to $52.95. Free version available for simple tax returns only.

  • State: $0 to $39.95 per state.

  • On-demand tax help at Premium and Self-Employed tiers.

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logo

Simple tax filing with a $50 flat fee for every scenario

Powered by

ColumnTax Logo

With this user-friendly tax software, registered NerdWallet members pay one fee, regardless of your tax situation. Plus, you'll get free support from tax experts. Sign up for access today.

for a NerdWallet account

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