How to Pick the Best Tax Software to File Your Taxes

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KEY POINTS

  • There are many different software programs you can use to do your taxes.
  • Some software programs are a better fit for individual taxpayers than others.
  • It's worth researching to find the right one, as e-filing your taxes can lead to a faster refund.


Ask yourself these questions to find the right tax-filing software for you.

Filing your taxes electronically can make it possible to get a refund as quickly as possible. Refunds are typically available within just 21 days or less for taxpayers who submit their returns electronically, and who also request their tax refunds be deposited directly into their bank accounts rather than coming in the form of a mailed check.

The good news is, filing taxes using electronic software can also make the process of completing tax paperwork easier. The key, though, is finding the right software, since there are many different tax-filing programs out there.

By asking yourself a few simple questions, you can find the perfect program to use to complete your forms quickly and easily so you can get your refund check into your bank account ASAP.

1. Do you qualify for free filing?

The IRS provides free filing options for every taxpayer. However, for those with income above a certain threshold, the only free option is fillable forms. These can be confusing because while a high-quality tax-filing software has tools to simplify the filing process, you'd have to know how to complete the forms on your own without guidance.

The good news is that taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $73,000 or less can generally use software offering guided prep tools at no cost for filing their federal taxes. If you fall within this income threshold, you should visit the IRS website to see what free filing options you have. While one of those options may not necessarily fit every person or situation, it's a good idea to make use of the free tools when you can so you don't waste money on tax prep fees.

2. How much will filing state tax returns cost?

While many tax software programs offer free federal filing, some charge you to file state tax returns. If you live in a state that mandates you complete tax forms, you'll likely want to compare the cost of filing them with any software programs you're considering. You don't want to overpay to file your state taxes just because you aren't aware that some tax filing services charge more to do this than others.

3. What type of features do you need from your filing program?

You'll also need to consider the key features you want your software to offer, as there are big differences in what services each filing tool provides -- and whether the software programs charge for these services.

For example, some online tax software tools charge you if you need to file a return claiming certain common deductions, while others don’t. Some allow you to include business taxes, while others don't. Some provide access to accountants or other tax professionals, but others don't.

To make sure you find a solution that meets your needs, consider the types of deductions, credits, and income you're claiming as well as the level of support you require. Then find a filing tool that's a good fit.

4. What do reviews say about different tax software solutions?

Finally, you may want to check out how other people have reviewed the filing solutions you're considering. Taxes can be complicated, and you want to use a software program that makes filing them simple and that maximizes your opportunity to save.

By considering all of these key issues, you should be able to find a filing solution that works well for you.

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