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The Best Online Tax Software

Five easy-to-navigate tools that'll help take the stress out of tax season.

By Kaitlyn Pirie
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Long gone are the days when you spent hours hunched over piles of paperwork calculating your tax bill. With the help of these easy-to-navigate websites (or their mobile-optimized sites and apps), you can sit back and let the computer crunch the numbers for you.

FreeTaxUSA

Website: freetaxusa.com

Cost*: Federal: free. State: $10. Deluxe: $6 (includes unlimited federal amended tax returns, priority customer support, and audit assistance, which is available only with this version).

Help desk: Free e-mail customer support. The average wait time is 30 minutes.

Pros: No complicated interface; access to all tax forms (not just W-2s), regardless of which version you purchase; PDFs of completed returns available for free download at any time.

Cons: Phone support is not available.

H&R Block.com

Website: hrblock.com

 

Cost*: Federal edition: free. State: $28. Basic: $20 for one federal, plus $35 for one state. Deluxe: $30 for one federal, plus $35 for one state. Premium: $50 for one federal, plus $35 for one state.

Help desk: You can receive personalized tax advice via e-mail or chat. The first topic is free; subsequent inquiries are $20 each.

Pros: An accurate-calculation guarantee (if there are mistakes, H&R Block will reimburse any penalties or interest charges) and a maximum-refund guarantee, which promises you money back if another tax-preparation software determines that you’re entitled to a larger refund; e-mail or text notification that your forms have been processed.

Cons: Electronic support can get pricey, and phone assistance is not available for the free service. Some tax forms are available only with certain packages, so you’ll be forced to upgrade. You must buy a paid version if you wish to import your account information from the previous year.

TaxACT

Website: taxact.com

Cost*: Free Federal Edition: free for one federal, plus $15 for one state. Deluxe: $10 for one federal, plus $8 for one state. State alone: $15. Ultimate Bundle: $18 for one federal and one state.

Help desk: Free help via e-mail is available; the upgraded version comes with no-cost phone assistance.

Pros: You can import your information for free if you used Turbo Tax or H&R Block last year; log in or receive a text or an e-mail to find out the status of your electronically filed returns.

Cons: The 1040X tax form (for amended returns) is not available with the free version.

*The package you use depends on your specific tax situation.

 
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