Ratings Methodology for Tax Software
NerdWallet’s overall ratings for tax software providers are weighted averages of ratings in the following categories:
Tax forms supported.
Features and ease of use.
Help and support availability.
NerdWallet reviews four companies that provide free tax preparation for U.S. customers. Some of these providers do charge additional fees for some services, such as state returns.
Data collection and review process
We collect data from providers, do firsthand testing and observe provider demonstrations, as necessary. Our process starts by sending detailed questions to providers. The questions are structured to equally elicit both favorable and unfavorable responses. They are not designed or prepared to produce any predetermined results. The provider’s answers, combined with our specialists’ hands-on research, make up our proprietary assessment process that scores each provider’s performance.
The final output produces star ratings from poor (1 star) to excellent (5 stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.
Our writers and editors conduct tax reviews on an annual basis. Throughout the year, we maintain contact with providers and update any changes to their offerings.
The weighting of each rating factor is based on our team’s assessment of which features are most important to consumers and which ones impact the consumer experience in the most meaningful way.
The review team comprises writers and editors who cover taxes and investing. Each writer and editor follows NerdWallet’s strict guidelines for editorial integrity.
The review team
The combined expertise of our team is infused into our review process to ensure thoughtful evaluation of products and services from the customer perspective.
If the provider’s list price for state returns is free, it earns the highest rating. If the provider charges more than $39.99, it earns the lowest rating.
We consider how many forms a tax-prep software provider supports. If it supports Form 1040, EITC, CTC, Schedules 1-3, Schedules A, C, D, E and a state return free, it earns the highest rating. The ratings go down the fewer forms are supported. If a provider supports no forms, it gets the lowest rating.
Tax forms supported
For this category, we consider the following:
We consider the following:
Features and ease of use
We consider the following:
Help and support availability
If a provider offers all of these, it earns the highest rating. If it offers only the free online knowledge base, it earns the lowest rating.
If a provider offers free audit assistance and defense in the event a customer is audited, it earns 5 stars. Some providers offer these services for an additional fee; others may not offer them at all. If a provider offers no audit assistance or defense, it earns 1 star.
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