Don’t drag your feet when it’s time to submit your taxes. Filing online is simple, and you don’t even have to change out of your sweatpants to take care of business.
Most self-filers have used TurboTax. There are many digital tax preparation services on the market. Take a look at our list of the best TurboTax alternatives to compare options now.
When Does Tax Season Start?
Tax season refers to the period during which individual taxpayers begin filing annual United States tax returns. Tax season begins January and ends April 15t.
Tax season is the busiest time of the year for tax preparers and tax preparation software companies. Get ahead of the game and find a tax service that’s right for you.
Best Alternatives to TurboTax
TurboTax is a big name in the tax preparation game. But there are many viable digital tax preparation services.
Check out our stacked roster to find something that suits your needs.
1. Best for Active Duty Military: TaxSlayer
TaxSlayer is a family-owned, cloud-based tax preparation platform based in Atlanta, Georgia. TaxSlayer empowers customers to tackle taxes head on with simple technology and step-by-step instructions to file state and federal taxes.
TaxSlayer keeps it simple but efficient. You won’t be unpleasantly surprised with add-on fees for obscure deductions or needed tax forms.
You can choose between 4 subscription packages, which all cost less than $50. If you’re an active duty military member, you can file your federal taxes completely free of charge (state returns will cost you an additional fee). TaxSlayer also offers a completely free version of its software for simple, straightforward tax returns.
Take advantage of TaxSlayer’s useful resources to help you keep up with changing tax laws and reforms. It guarantees you’ll get your largest possible refund using its software and tax reform calculators. You can start your return for free before choosing your TaxSlayer product.
Cost: Varies by package tier; active duty military can file federal returns for free
- Simply Free: $0, state returns included
- Classic: $17, state returns additional
- Premium: $37, state returns additional
- Self-Employed: $47, state returns additional
Free Version?: Yes
2. Best for Maximizing Deductions: TaxAct
TaxAct has provided tax preparation services since 1988. It offers both online tax preparation and downloadable tax preparation software.
TaxAct provides tax preparation services to a wide range of taxpayers, including self-employed workers, businesses, tax-exempt organizations, estates and trusts. If you need to file both home and businesses taxes, TaxAct has several home and business tax software bundles at a discounted price from what you’d pay for both individually.
TaxAct’s software is particularly useful for self-employed people and freelance workers. The TaxAct Deduction Maximizer helps reduce the tax burden of self-employed workers by finding every possible deduction.
For example, if you’re a writer, you can use TaxAct to deduct business expenses such as writing supplies and business use of your home. Or if you’re a traveling sales representative, TaxAct will help you claim the cost of your business trips, even down to your meals.
Cost: Varies by package, online and software versions available
- Free: $0.00, state returns additional
- Deluxe+: $54.95, state returns additional
- Premier+: $79.95, state returns additional
- Self Employed+: $109.95, state returns additional
- Basic: $26.95, 5 federal e-files included and state returns additional
- Deluxe: $96.90, 5 federal e-files included and 1 free state return
- Premier: $101.90, 5 federal e-files included and 1 free state return
- Self Employed: $124.90, 5 federal e-files include 1 free state return
Free Version?: Yes
3. Best for Thrifty Tax Preparation: FreeTaxUSA
By far the least expensive digital tax preparation platform on our list, FreeTaxUSA covers all the bases without hurting your wallet.
You can both file federal and state tax returns electronically. Essentially anybody can utilize their free federal e-filing service, including self-employed people and people who have to file a 1099 tax form. While state returns do cost extra to file, the overall price is still relatively low compared to other similar services.
You can also easily apply for a 3-month extension and amend or file a prior year’s tax return. Once you file, easily track your return and refund. You’ll also be able to view any return after 2014 with FreeTaxUsa.
You’ll enjoy access to free, unlimited customer support. The Deluxe package also offers Priority Support with Live Chat, bumping up your support request to the top of the queue.
Cost: Varies by edition, federal tax return filing always free
- Free Edition: $0 to file federal return, $14 to file a state return
- Deluxe Edition: $6.99 to file federal return, $14 to file a state return
Free Version?: Yes
4. Best for Brick-and-Mortar Locations: Liberty Tax
You can have the best of both worlds when you use Liberty Tax. Choose to file your taxes online or visit 1 of its 2,700 offices and 12,000 tax professionals nationwide to get the job done.
Liberty Tax offers straightforward tax preparation and other useful services like audit assistance. If the IRS audits a return prepared through Liberty Tax, a professional will assist you with the audit by accompanying you to defend the return.
Other handy features include unlimited free copies of your paid tax return and year-round customer assistance available.
Liberty Tax provides free consultations, so make an appointment at your nearby office or visit their website for more in-depth information.
Cost: Varies by package tier
- Basic: $44.95 for federal returns, state returns available for $39.95
- Deluxe: $64.95, state returns available for $34.95
- Premium: 89.95, state returns available for $34.95
Free Version?: No
Step Up Your Tax Prep Game
Tax preparation software or online filing makes it easy to keep tax preparation simple. Compare our top tax prep services to find the right match today.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the difference between TurboTax Online and the software?
The primary difference between TurboTax online and the software is that your fees are included in the price of TurboTax Online but not necessarily in the TurboTax software. You can also work on amending old returns from 2018 or retro-filing for 2019 with TurboTax Online, which you can’t do with the software.
- No software included
- Capability to E-file anywhere you are connected to the internet
- Your information is stored on secure servers
- E-filing includes return printing along with federal and state preparation fees
- Can file retroactive tax returns and amend past years’ taxes
TurboTax Download/CD Software
- Download or software CD
- Work on taxes even when offline
- Your information is stored on your hard drive
- State E-filing fees not included
- Every version doesn’t include preparation fees
- Can e-file up to 5 returns and unlimited paper returns with no additional cost
2. How much does it cost to file electronically with TurboTax?
TurboTax offers 1 completely free version of TurboTax Online, which is recommended for simple tax returns. Both federal and state tax filings are free with this version.
Otherwise, the cost of filing electronically is included in the price of the paid versions of both TurboTax Online and the TurboTax Download/CD software. You’ll have to pay an additional cost for state returns online while the software version offers 1 free state return download for some packages.
3. How many free returns can I file with TurboTax?
You can electronically file up to 5 free federal returns with the paid TurboTax Download/CD software. Some packages include 1 free state return. The base level TurboTax Basic package charges additional fees for state returns.
With TurboTax Online, the free version allows you to file all returns for free. For higher tier packages, your federal return is included in your package subscription price, but state returns are additional.