The tax industry has been through a tough time with the changes that have taken place in recent years. As technology continues to advance, it is had to predict what developments will take place over the next decade and beyond. The best tax software of 2022 could very well be an app or website made by a small business owner who wants to make filing as easy as possible for their clients.
The “best tax software 2022” is a question that has been asked many times before. The best way to find the answer to this question would be to use an online search engine.
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In 2022, April 18 – tax day — will be a day you won’t want to forget (or April 19 if you happen to live in Massachusetts or Maine). And, although most of us hate it, your taxes will be due before you know it, for better or worse. To make your life easier, consider utilizing an online tax application that can collect all of your income and spending information, compute your total tax, and even submit your return for you electronically.
But, with so many online tax tools to choose from, how can you choose which one to use? To assist you, we evaluated the top four programs two years ago by going through the complete process of inputting our tax information and comparing the findings to those of a tax expert to determine whether the programs might provide you with the same (or better) results. This year, we went back to those same apps and looked at their new features to see whether our conclusion had changed.
Overall, the best tax software
TurboTax is the most user-friendly throughout the process, assisting you in determining which forms you want in a consumer-friendly manner and providing live customer service anytime you require it (although it might cost you).
The most effective free tax software
Although all four tax preparation programs offer free versions, H&R Block gives you access to the most forms without a charge.
The most affordable tax software
TaxSlayer consistently gives the lowest costs, regardless of the complexity of your taxes. Even with the most complicated tax scenario, TaxSlayer charges no more than $48 for your federal return.
Guaranteed best tax software
TaxAct outperforms all other systems when it comes to providing a guarantee. While all four systems claim to be 100 percent accurate, TaxAct goes one step further and promises up to $100,000 in refund if their software fails to provide correct findings.
Depending on the intricacy of your taxes, each software provides four alternative filing choices. Despite the fact that they cover many of the same forms and deductions, there are minor variances and a wide price range.
At the “do it yourself” level, this chart provides those alternatives along with their relative pricing. Some of the programs are also available for purchase at a reduced price via Amazon or your local office supply shop, albeit you can only “test before you buy” at each tax program’s website.
|Simple/Free Tax Return||Tax Return (Deluxe/Classic)||Tax Return (Premium/Premium)||Tax Return for Self-Employed/Small Business|
|Best Uses||Those with a W-2 income, dependents, school costs, and retirement income will benefit the most.||Those who own a house and wish to optimize their tax credits and deductions should use this method.||For freelancers and those with investments or rental properties, this is the best option.||Those with a business income will benefit the most.|
|TurboTax||‘Zero’ (includes one state)||$39 (plus $39 for each state)||$69 (plus $39 for each state)||$89 (plus $39 for each state)|
|H&R Block||‘Zero’ (includes one state)||$29.99 (plus an additional $39.99 per state)||$49.99 (plus an additional $39.99 per state)||$84.99 (plus $39.99 for each state)|
|TaxSlayer||‘Zero’ (includes one state)||$17.95 (plus $39.95 for each state)||$37.95 (with an additional $36.95 per state)||$47.95 (plus $36.95 for each state)|
|TaxAct||$0 (+$39.95 per state) (plus $39.95 for each state)||$24.95 (plus $44.95 for each state)||$34.95 (plus $44.95 for each state)||$64.95 (plus $44.95 for each state)|
|Note: Prices reflect software acquired straight from the vendors and include current savings when utilizing the links in this article as of this writing. These discounts are subject to modification or discontinuation at any moment without notice. Third-party shops may also provide cheaper prices. Because there may be minor differences across applications, the “Best Uses” information is offered as a guide only.|
Because the fundamentals of these systems don’t vary much from year to year, if you have a simple tax position — a W-2 from a job and perhaps some interest or dividend income — all of these programs provide a free alternative that will almost certainly work for you (although TaxAct no longer offers a free option for filing a state return).
Not many forms are included at the most basic level, though H&R Block provides the most forms under this no-cost filing option. On the flip side, H&R Block will also work hardest at trying to sell extra options to you throughout the process, so “free” might not end up being truly free if you decide to take them up on one or more of their pitches.
If you have very easy taxes but need more than what the free versions offer, any of the basic-level paid choices will suffice, thus price may be the most important consideration when choosing one of the four. Because professional accountant assistance is seldom required in uncomplicated tax situations, TaxSlayer should be your first choice due to its inexpensive cost.
However, if your taxes are more complicated — such as if you operate a small company, have a lot of deductions, or own a lot of real estate — you should set aside some money and utilize TurboTax. TurboTax is by far the most user-friendly alternative, with a platform that is simple to use.
However, you may need to pay some of TurboTax’s add-on costs in order to get the most accurate results, so you may be better off simply turning over your tax paperwork to an accountant to save the hassle. Taxes are difficult, and ensuring that you do everything right while maximizing your deductions is much more difficult.
The firm holds your hand from the minute you arrive at the TurboTax website to assist you figure out which software version to use for your personal taxes. The site will ask you a series of questions about your finances, such as whether you have a job, pay rent, pay student loans, sell stock, have children, and so on, and the answers will immediately fill into the TurboTax version you need to get started.
Entering my W-2 information into TurboTax was by far the simplest of the four tax apps. I had to manually input each line item from my W-2 form in some of the other apps, but not with TurboTax. The application was able to instantly import my whole W-2 and fill all of the relevant areas by just providing my employment ID and the cash amount from box 1. If TurboTax doesn’t recognize your employer’s EIN, you may use use the TurboTax mobile app to snap a picture of your W-2 form.
I was also able to import some of my 1099-INT and 1099-DIV forms directly from the TurboTax website by entering into my individual financial institution websites. This smoothed the process and ensured that all data was input accurately.
My personal taxes are a little more involved, so TurboxTax’s search option came in handy. I had to do some digging to uncover some of the more rare forms since not every form was shown to me during the process. However, TurboTax provides a fantastic search option that enables you to type in the form name and be directed to that form right away. This was a feature that was unique to TurboTax and made filling out all of my forms a breeze.
TurboTax, on the other hand, no longer provides the same level of help that it formerly did (which was complimentary for the three paid versions). Instead, there’s a premium upgrade option called TurboTax Live that ranges from $79 to $199 depending on how complicated your taxes are. This service includes having a CPA go through your tax return line by line and speaking with them throughout the year if you have any issues.
While most of these software applications provide some degree of help, TurboTax provided by far the finest customer care in my experience – despite the fact that I now had to pay for it. I worked late one night on TurboTax and wanted to try out their Live assistance service. I was able to talk with an attorney with eight years of expertise after just a 5-minute wait. I was also able to share my screen with the support professional, who highlighted the steps on my computer and helped me to the right form.
TurboTax Live assistance is accessible in the United States throughout the majority of waking hours, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mountain time, seven days a week. However, we found that TurboTax’s online resources were more than sufficient to address any issues we had, so Live help isn’t required unless you also want the CPA review at the end.
In addition to the premium TurboTax Live service, you may offload the whole process to a tax professional who will complete it for you — dubbed TurboTax Live Full Service — if you become tired of completing your own taxes at any time throughout the process. This service is fairly costly, ranging from $199 to $389 depending on which version your taxes need. You may wish to compare prices with a local tax professional to discover who gives the greatest deal at that price.
However, if you have a simple return that just needs TurboTax’s free version (essentially, if you only need to file Form 1040) and you can finish your taxes in the next month and submit by March 31, TurboTax will evaluate your return for free. In fact, if you use the “basic” version of TurboTax, you may access the TurboTax Live Full Service option for free if you file before March 31. That implies that if you can get ahead of the game, you’ll have a fantastic chance to have someone else handle your taxes for free.
Despite the fact that TurboTax is the most costly program overall, the three paid levels are presently reduced by $20 to $30 if purchased straight via TurboTax using the links in this post until February 28. (These discounts are current as of this writing and are subject to change.)
The most effective free tax software: H&R Block ($28.44 for Deluxe + State version; amazon.com)
Even if your taxes are a step up from simple, you still might be able to file through H&R Block’s free filing option, since it includes Schedules 1, 2 and 3, which are some of the more common forms required by many taxpayers. This allows you to cover child and dependent care expenses, student loan interest deductions, tuition and fee statements and unemployment income. With many of other tax programs, you may have to pay for the mid-tier service in order to access these options.
However, while many people should be able to use the free option, H&R Block does regularly try to upsell you. Compared to the other programs, it has significantly more pop-ups offering the chance to buy partner apps or additional tax services. You can ignore them, but they do become a bit annoying.
A few years ago, we felt that one of the downsides to H&R Block’s software was that the interface wasn’t very user-friendly. Fortunately, as of last year, the program has a new look and feel, which greatly improves the experience. For instance, I found it much easier this year to use the search function to find forms I had trouble finding in the past.
If filling your taxes on your own proves to be more complex than you thought, H&R Block offers two options to help ease the process. The first is unlimited live expert help, including the ability to share your screen and communicate via on-demand chat or video support. This add-on service normally costs $69.99, but it’s currently discounted to $39.99 as of this writing.
We found this function to be beneficial when we tried it, however the wait time was substantially longer than with some of the other items. I waited precisely 24 minutes for an expert to be available to assist me on a Thursday morning in mid-February, long before most people start thinking about taxes. For most people, having to wait this long every time an issue arises would be incredibly inconvenient.
And if you truly want to have someone else do your taxes for you, you can file with an H&R Block tax professional, similar to filing with your own accountant. The cost of this service starts at $80, but we found that H&R Block doesn’t give you the full price before you actually meet with a tax professional. We were told that the more complex your taxes are, the higher the fee will be.
If you decide to use one of the paid H&R Block editions, you can currently get $20 to $25 off the regular price when you purchase directly with H&R Block through the links in this story. (This discount is as of this writing and can change at any time.)
TaxSlayer offers the lowest pricing among all four systems when it comes to more complex tax circumstances, with other programs costing as much as $90 to file a difficult Federal return. And, contrary to popular belief, a lesser cost does not always imply a lower level of performance.
The TaxSlayer website was quite straightforward to browse, and filling out certain forms was even easier than on other sites. For example, finding out where to submit my Schedule K-1 information in TurboTax wasn’t as straightforward as it could have been. But with TaxSlayer, I had a choice right away and didn’t have to look for it.
Even with its no-cost option, TaxSlayer offers free phone and email support, although you’ll need to upgrade to the Premium version to speak to an actual tax professional or even use their technical support chat feature. But the cost of the Premium edition is just $38, while the same level of support with the same filing needs will cost more than double with H&R Block.
While we had a hard time using the chat feature last year, this year we had a lot of success. We only had to wait two minutes to speak to a representative and she was able to accurately answer our question in no time. (This was at the exact same time that we utilized H&R’s support feature and had to wait 24 minutes.) If you’re looking for a tax provider to answer your questions quickly — and at a lower price — then TaxSlayer will do just that.
It’s crucial to remember that TaxAct’s $100,000 Accuracy Guarantee only applies to mistakes caused by the software, not to errors made by you while inputting the data. “If an error in our software results in you receiving a smaller refund or larger tax liability than you receive using the same data with another tax preparation product, we will pay you the difference in the refund or liability (up to $100,000) and refund the applicable software fees you paid us,” according to the TaxAct website (bolding added by us).
Apart from having the highest accuracy guarantee, TaxAct is reasonably straightforward to use, its cost is in the center of the four programs, and it allows you to file your taxes jointly with an expert.
One disadvantage of TaxAct in 2022 is that submitting your state return using the basic version is rather costly. Filing your state return was free in 2020, but it increased to $4.95 in 2021. The basic edition will now cost $39.95 per state in 2022. Even the basic edition of each of the other software programs we tested comes with one free state tax return, which may encourage you to choose another solution if you just need the fundamentals.
However, TaxAct’s Xpert Assist service is a tremendous plus. All plans include this option, which enables you to consult with a tax specialist over the phone seven days a week until April 18. As a result, when we used the function, we projected a 77-minute wait time for a person to contact us back. However, chatting live with a professional might be well worth it if you can ask all of your questions in one session.
TaxAct’s Xpert Full Service is also new this year. This enables you to completely delegate your tax preparation to a professional. There are a few different service levels, but TaxAct will tell you a fee once you answer a few simple questions about your circumstances, so there are no surprises afterwards. We experimented with a variety of scenarios, ranging from simple to complicated, and found the cost to be reasonable.
TaxAct is also recognized for offering discounts in the run-up to the filing deadline. While no discounts are presently available as of this writing, depending on your filing requirements, we saw reductions ranging from $15 to $30 off the different premium versions of the software last year.
We completed a real-life tax return with a very high degree of complexity in our initial testing, aiming to input every piece of data and utilize all of the features offered in each of the four applications. We then compared each program’s return to a return produced by a professional CPA using the same data to check whether the amount owing at the federal and state levels matched.
This year, we looked through all four applications again, rechecking the features we had previously evaluated as well as any new features, as well as validating the current cost for each package.
The following were the primary factors we looked at:
- To verify accuracy, we compared the final product to a professionally produced file. We compared the outcomes of the four programs as well.
- When assessing how simple the program was to use, we looked at several different parts of each company’s website. This covered the time it required to get started and sign up for the program, navigate through the software, determine if the procedure was simple or complicated, and finish the file.
- Cost: We compared all expenses for various filing requirements. Throughout the process, we kept an eye on whether we were being upsold more choices.
- Promises: We looked at each program’s guarantees to make sure they backed up their claims.
Using the above-mentioned test criteria, we evaluated each tax software package for accuracy, convenience of use, cost, and assured correctness.
While this year’s crop of applications has some fascinating new features, there were no breakthroughs that prompted us to revise our overall impressions from last year’s evaluations. And after putting each of these tools to the test, I’ve decided that completing my complicated taxes myself isn’t for me, and I’d rather hire an expert. Using a tax software, on the other hand, is a cost-effective solution for simpler returns.
Fortunately, if you begin your tax return at one of the four tax program websites, you won’t have to pay anything up advance; you’ll just have to pay when you file. So, if you look over your taxes and decide that completing them yourself isn’t for you, you won’t lose any money. Alternatively, if you start with one tax software and are unhappy with the results, you can always switch to another to see if it works better for your specific tax situation.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most accurate tax software?
A: TurboTax is the most accurate tax software. They provide an estimate of your taxes and a professional that will help you fill out all the paperwork for you, so there are no errors. Plus, their customer service team can answer any questions about how it works or anything else related to filing taxes.
When can I start my taxes on TurboTax 2022?
A: You can start your taxes on TurboTax 2022 as soon as possible.
Is TurboTax for state and federal?
A: TurboTax is only for federal returns. State-specific tax forms should be purchased separately.
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