Best Tax Software for Simple Returns

How we picked the companies to evaluate:

NerdWallet reviewed the online packages from the four tax-software companies with the greatest market share and market presence, the latter measured by how heavily the companies are searched for on the internet. Some of the providers are NerdWallet partners, but this did not influence our selection of the winner.

How we chose the winner:

NerdWallet defined a "simple return" as one that includes wages and income from a W-2 and limited income from interest or dividends (less than $1,500); claims the standard deduction; and could claim the earned income tax credit or child tax credits. Because more than one software package we evaluated can process such a return, we narrowed the field in this order to arrive at our winner for the best tax software for simple returns:

  • Which packages can process a simple return for free?
  • Which packages also accommodate adjustments to income included on IRS Schedule 1 such as deductions for student loan interest, health savings accounts, IRAs and alimony paid?
  • Which remaining package has the highest score in our overall evaluation?

To more fully explain that final step: We evaluate each of a company's tax-software packages across the following criteria, listed in descending order of importance.

  • Ease of use and features.
  • Help and support options.
  • Price of software package.
  • Price of filing a state return.
  • Audit support options.
  • Refund options.

How we verified our data:

NerdWallet writers sent detailed questions to all reviewed companies. NerdWallet writers and editors also confirmed fees, rates, policies and other key features on each company's website.