Best Tax Software of June 2024

With the number of tax software providers out there, choosing a filing program can feel overwhelming. We've rated and reviewed four of the most popular services — TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxSlayer and TaxAct — to help you choose the best tax filing solution for you.
Tina Orem
Sabrina Parys
Alana Benson
By Alana Benson,  Sabrina Parys and  Tina Orem 
Edited by Chris Hutchison

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Taxes are confusing enough without the added stress of figuring out which tax software is the best tax software. We did the research by focusing on four well-known, widely used online tax software providers to help you choose the ideal option to file taxes online.

While you should get the same tax refund or tax bill no matter which provider you choose, tax software typically comes at a cost, so there’s a crucial difference between paying for what you'll use and paying extra for what you don’t need.

Best tax software 2024

There are many tax prep software providers out there, and each one offers different packages for different taxpayers. When choosing, it's helpful to start with what matters most to you about your tax filing experience. The providers we review also offer free tiers, and we've rated those as well.

Best free tax software for simple returns

  • Federal: $55 to $115. Free version available for simple tax returns only.

  • State: $0 to $49 per state.

Best overall tax software

  • Federal: $69 to $129. Free version available for Form 1040 and limited credits only. Roughly 37% of filers qualify.

  • State: $0 to $64 per state.

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

Best affordable tax software

  • Federal: $37.95 to $67.95. Free version available for simple tax returns only.

  • State: $0 to $44.95 per state.

  • Federal: $49.99 to $99.99. Free version available for simple tax returns only.

  • State: $39.99 to $59.99 per state.

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

These star ratings are based on a tax provider's free tier score. For more detailed scoring, see below. Providers frequently change pricing. You can verify the latest price by clicking through to each provider's site.

» Want all the details? Read our reviews of TurboTax, TaxAct, H&R Block and TaxSlayer.


Best free tax software for simple returns: H&R Block

What makes H&R Block Free the best software for simple returns?

H&R Block's Free version has no income restrictions and covers more tax situations (e.g., unemployment income) than many other free tiers offered by the competition. The interface is easy to use and filers can upload multiple tax documents to avoid manual entry.

FREE

$0 + $0 per state filed.

Allows you to file a 1040 plus limited Schedules 1, 2 and 3, which makes it usable by a lot more people than most other free software packages.

PAID PACKAGES

Deluxe $55 + $49 per state.

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

Premium $85 + $49 per state.

For investors or rental property owners (Schedules D and E, and K-1s).

Self-Employed $115 + $49 per state.

For small-business owners, freelancers and independent contractors.

All paid packages come with access to Tax Pro Chat and AI Tax Assist.

What we like: H&R Block Free can handle form 1040, limited schedules 1, 2 and 3, income from wages (W-2), income from bank interest (1099-INT) and dividends (1099-DIV), and student loan interest (1098-E).

What H&R Block Free can’t do: The free tier doesn't support itemized deductions (Schedule A), deductions and expenses from freelance or self-employed work (Schedule C), or HSA distributions (1099-SA).

Pros

Well-designed and user-friendly interface.

Free version offers a generous selection of tax forms.

All paid packages include access to tax pro help at no additional charge.

Cons

Downgrading your package requires calling H&R Block's support line.

Final review of your tax return requires an additional paid upgrade to Tax Pro Review.


Best overall paid tax software package: TurboTax

What makes TurboTax the best overall tax software?

TurboTax scores high marks for two important categories: ease of use and tax support.

  • Ease of use: TurboTax has an interview-style Q&A experience and a wide range of functionality and tools that make entering information easy. Help is easy to access, and explanations are clear and authoritative.

  • Tax pro support: TurboTax offers users the option of upgrading to their Live Assisted packages to gain access to screen-sharing, chat and phone support from a tax pro. Although these services come at an additional cost, access to the pro is generous and you’ll also get a final review of your return.

FREE

$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

Live Assisted Basic $89 + $59 per state.

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

TurboTax Live Assisted Basic supports Form 1040 and limited tax credits only; roughly 37% of taxpayers qualify.

Deluxe $69 + $64 per state.

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

Premium $129 + $64 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 $89 to $219, plus state fees.

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

What we like: TurboTax’s software feels like an interview with a tax preparer who knows just what to ask and how best to guide you.

Pros

Intuitive U/X.

Handy tools and features that help minimize manual input.

Generous tax pro support that includes a final review if you upgrade.

Cons

Expensive compared with other tax software.

The free version is limited in what it can handle.


Best affordable tax software package: TaxSlayer

What makes TaxSlayer the best affordable tax software package?

TaxSlayer’s paid packages, on average, are the most affordable of all the providers we review. TaxSlayer also includes a free state return with a free federal return at the lowest pricing tier. Some competitors make you pay for a state tax return, even at the free tier.

FREE

$0 + $0 for one state return.

Allows you to file a 1040 and a state return for free, but only if you have a very simple tax situation: your taxable income is under $100,000, you don’t claim dependents, you don’t itemize, you didn’t sell stock, have rental income or a business, and you don’t take the earned income tax credit.

PAID PACKAGES

Classic $37.95 + $44.95 per state.

All forms, deductions and credits excluding those with self-employment needs.

Premium $57.95 + $44.95 per state.

All forms, deductions and credits. Includes Ask a Tax Pro and live chat, phone and email support.

Self-Employed $67.95 + $44.95 per state.

Includes personal and business income and expenses, 1099 and Schedule C. Includes all the tax support in the Premium tier.

What we like: TaxSlayer’s formula — allowing clients to pay for the amount of help they need rather than the types of tax forms they need — allows you to access most tax filing situations while keeping costs low.

Pros

More affordable than bigger-name tax software providers.

Premium and Self-Employed tiers include free tax pro support.

Cons

Free version of the program has many restrictions, including income limits, and it won't allow you to claim dependents.


Competitive tax software to consider: TaxAct

What makes TaxAct a competitive tax software package?

Across the board, TaxAct’s offerings are less expensive than similar products from competing providers. That’s a nice score — especially for filers who value function over form and want affordable human help if necessary.

FREE

$0 + $39.99 per state filed (Xpert Assist: $39.99).

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

PAID PACKAGES

Deluxe $49.99 + $59.99 per state filed (Xpert Assist: $39.99).

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

Premier $79.99 + $59.99 per state filed (Xpert Assist: $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 $99.99 + $59.99 per state filed (Xpert Assist: $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.

What we like: TaxAct is a good deal. It didn't win any "best" accolades this year, but there is no denying its pricing.

Pros

Competitive pricing.

Generous tech support hours, including weekend help.

Xpert Assist upgrade includes unlimited help and a final review of your return.

Cons

Free version of the program charges for a state return.

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How to choose tax software

If you don't know what you need, it might help to examine online tax filing providers individually and what sort of services each one offers. Here are a few areas to dig into:

User experience: Software that feels like an interview — asking questions about your income and any life events that might allow for deductions — offers more guidance than a basic fill-in-the-blank process. The ability to import forms such as W-2s is better than having to manually type in numbers.

Support options: Most tax software offers a searchable FAQ section or knowledge base, and some offer video tutorials or user forums to help answer questions. Audits are unlikely for most taxpayers, but if you think you’re at risk and want to purchase protection, you should understand what your software provides.

Tax pros for assisted help: One important offering in recent years has been one-on-one help from a human tax pro, live on your screen. Depending on the provider, these pros might be able to give you tax advice or review your whole tax return before you file. (This sort of help may come with an extra charge.)

Availability of tax forms: If you find a provider that excels in the areas above, you then want to choose the package that covers all of the tax forms and schedules you need. People with simple tax situations may not need anything but a package that covers your basic 1040. On the other hand, people with multiple jobs, itemizers, and those with business, investing, or rental income will typically need access to additional schedules and forms, which can mean paying for a higher-tiered package.

🤓Nerdy Tip

If your adjusted gross income for 2023 was $79,000 or less, you might be able to get free tax software from some of these providers through the IRS' Free File program. Plus, there are a few more options for free tax filing.

Do I need tax software?

Most filers use either tax software or a tax professional, such as a CPA. Deciding which route makes the most sense for you often comes down to three factors: the complexity of your tax situation, how much help you need and your budget.

“Tax software tries to simplify the language of the tax code for taxpayers,” says Nayo Carter-Gray, CEO and founder of 1st Step Accounting. "But it can still be confusing or overwhelming since it asks a bunch of questions that the average taxpayer may not be familiar with.”

The best software should walk you through the filing process, can handle most tax forms and specialty income, and will tell you whether it’s better to take the standard deduction or itemize, for example.

Carter-Gray, an enrolled agent, says working with a tax pro may be the better option if you’re getting overwhelmed with questions, made a large transaction you’re unsure how to handle, had multiple income streams or various investments — or if you’re simply just seeking more tax planning.

If you already know you want to file on your own but are wondering if you should use software (whether free or paid) or paper forms, that answer is simple. The IRS says e-filing is the easiest, fastest and most efficient way to file. Filing digitally will also ensure your tax refund gets back to you sooner

Internal Revenue Service. Six Reasons Why You Should File Your Taxes Electronically. Accessed May 10, 2024.
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Methodology

NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest online tax software providers. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of available software to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgements on which ones will best meet your needs. We adhere to strict guidelines for editorial integrity.

We collect data directly from providers, do first-hand testing and observe provider demonstrations. 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. For more details about the categories considered when rating tax software and our process, read our full methodology.

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