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The Best Tax Preparation Services

The 7 Best Tax Preparation Services

Which Online Tax Preparation Service is the Best?

Not very long ago, taxpayers had to sift through mounds of confusing paperwork to file their taxes, or hire an expensive professional tax preparer. Today, though, things are different. In fact, more than 53 million people use online tax services to prepare and file their returns online.

There are many benefits to using online tax preparation services, including convenience, accuracy, and the ability to easily access and review your tax information. In most cases, using online tax prep platforms is faster and easier than doing your taxes by hand. And it's certainly cheaper than hiring a CPA.

Saturday, January 28th

2023 Tax Preparation Service Reviews

Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Free Tax USA Review 5 Star Rating

Free Tax USA

5 Star Rating
  • Free to file for most taxpayers (even homeowners and self-employed)
  • $7.99 for Deluxe plan (priority support with live chat, unlimited amendments)
  • $14.99 for state tax returns
  • $34.99 for pro support (optional)
  • Maximum refund guarantee
  • 100% accuracy guarantee
  • Over 350,000 five-star reviews
  • "A" rated and accredited by the BBB
  • In business since 2001
Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

Free Tax USA is one of the "free to file" services you'll find recommended by the IRS. Founded in 2001, this company prides itself on being "100% made in America" , with all team members - including customer support - based in the US. More than 50 million taxpayers have successfully filed their federal tax returns through this online tax prep platform.

All return types are Free

You're going to be blown away by the pricing here: $0. For all return types. Yes, you read that correctly: whether you've just got a simple return or you're including freelance income, mortgage interest, investment gains/losses, and so on, you will pay nothing to use Free Tax USA to file your federal taxes. All returns get free customer service and free extension requests if needed.

Fees for state returns and personal support

There's a $14.99 fee if you'd like to use this service to prepare your state return, and you can also upgrade to Deluxe (for just $7.99) if you'd like access to priority support via live chat and unlimited amended returns. You also have the option, once you've created an account, to add on professional guidance for $34.99: get your tax questions answered by a CPA or EA via live chat, screen share, or phone support, as well as audit assistance. But, you definitely can file your entire federal and state return without that upgrade if you prefer.

350,000+ five-star reviews

It sounds too good to be true, right? There has to be a catch. Amazingly, there isn't. Free Tax USA is extremely easy to use and has a lot of loyal repeat clients. See for yourself: there are over 350,000 five-star reviews on the site (and the company doesn't filter out any negative ratings either). And, under the name of its parent company, Tax Hawk, Free Tax USA has an "A" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau.

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Upload last year's return or start from square one

So, how do you use Free Tax USA? You'll start by creating an account, which will require verification through your mobile number (which means you can't use a fake one, by the way). From there, you'll be asked how you filed your taxes in the previous year and you'll have the opportunity to upload a PDF of the prior return, so that your information can be carried over into this platform. Otherwise, you can just start at the beginning and go through the process step-by-step.

Step-by-step process

If you've ever used any kind of online tax preparation site, the process at Free Tax USA will feel very familiar. And even if this is your first time preparing your tax return, this service makes it comfortable and easy-to-understand. While we wish that Free Tax USA let clients skip around in the sections, it's not a huge downside. It just means that you'll have to go systematically through each question, starting with Personal, then Income, and finally Deductions/Credits (and then on to your state return if you choose).

Go back and fill it in

Once all of that has been entered, then you can move back and forth as needed. That systematic approach helps avoid any errors that could get your return rejected or your refund delayed. We noticed that when we left important parts blank, we were prompted to go back and enter the information before we could proceed into the next section of the return.

Best of the best

What you see really is what you get with Free Tax USA: free to file your federal tax return, no matter what type of income you're reporting, guaranteed accuracy and maximum refund, and help on hand whenever you need it. Why spend more on a competitor's "upgrades" when you can get the very same features at no cost? Free Tax USA absolutely delivers on everything it promises, and this service has easily earned our newest first-place ranking among online tax preparation platforms.

H&R Block Review 4.5 Star Rating

H&R Block

4.5 Star Rating
  • Free to file simple federal and state returns
  • $54.99 for Deluxe returns (HSA contributors, child/dependent care expenses, itemized deductions)
  • $74.99 for Premium returns (rental income, investments, sold cryptocurrency)
  • $114.99 for Self-Employed returns (contractors, gig workers; asset depreciation, vehicle/home office expenses)
  • $44.99 for each state return
  • Easy to import documents
  • In-person and virtual assistance available for a fee (starting at $69.99)
  • Many guarantees: transparent pricing, transparent process, free audit assistance, free mid-year care check-in, maximum refund, 100% accuracy, 100% satisfaction
  • Over 250,000 five-star ratings

In business for over 60 years, H&R Block has prepared over 800 million tax returns. This level of experience makes them a trusted choice for taxpayers. The company offers a range of services, from in-person assistance at their thousands of brick-and-mortar locations to its easy-to-use platform for preparing your return on your own. H&R Block's wide variety of options and expertise make them a top choice for tax preparation services.

Can help you figure out what package is best

Don't worry if you're not sure which package you need for your tax preparation. As you answer questions and move through the online platform, H&R Block will let you know if you need to upgrade to the next level to access the necessary forms. The company is transparent about pricing, letting you know what you'll pay at each step of the process instead of waiting until the end. This helps to avoid any surprises and allows you to make an informed decision about which package is right for you.

Several pricing options

H&R Block's online tax prep services include the following:

  • Free basic federal and state returns: this package includes simple returns for students, but also W-2 employees, those with unemployment income, or those claiming the Child Tax Credit.
  • Deluxe ($54.99): this is the tier for you if you're an HSA contributor, you pay child/dependent care expenses, or you want to itemize your deductions. You'll pay an extra $44.99 for each state return too.
  • Premium ($74.99): jump to this package if you have rental income, investments, or you've sold cryptocurrency. State returns will still cost $44.99 each.
  • Self-Employed ($114.99): if you are a contractor or self-employed in some other way, you need to depreciate assets, and/or claim vehicle/home office expenses, you'll need H&R Block's top tier of service. And, yes, state returns are $44.99 each.
  • Unlimited help from live tax experts can be added for an extra fee (starting at $69.99). This includes unlimited help via on-demand chat or video, screen sharing, and can be used on any device.

No jumping around, please

To get started, you'll have to verify your mobile number during the account-creation process. We wish that H&R Block didn't require that step (some of its rivals don't), but that's all you'll have to provide in order to get started with their online tax prep services. From there, though, it's smooth sailing: select any situations that apply, like owning a home or having student tuition or loans, and they'll recommend the level of service to start out with - or choose a different one (and they'll let you know during the process if you should switch). You'll have to fill out each section sequentially: for example, you can't jump to the Deductions page unless you fill out Income first. It's a good idea to upload your previous year's taxes if possible: it'll save you a lot of time.

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Watch your refund (hopefully) grow

Beyond that, everything about this online tax prep service makes it easy-breezy to get your return done. You can watch your "progress" at the top of the page, as it calculates in real time what your refund will be (or, sadly, if you owe money).

Work with a Professional - for an extra fee

What happens if you get stuck? Fortunately, help is at the ready: if you want to chat with a tax pro or switch to an in-person meeting, H&R Block can do either one. You'll pay extra, of course (starting at $69.99 for remote/chat help and going up from there), but it's nice to know you've got that on standby if you don't know how to move forward.

Many guarantees = many happy customers

H&R Block gets rave reviews from clients, with over 250,000 five-star ratings. Most people who switch to this tax prep company from another service rave about how easy it is to use and how cost-effective. And, there are tons of guarantees this company offers, to set your mind at ease. These include transparent pricing, transparent process, free audit assistance, free mid-year care check-in, maximum refund, 100% accuracy, 100% satisfaction. That last one is particularly nice: H&R Block is one of only two companies we evaluated that will give you your money back at any time up to the point of filing your return.

Fantastic overall choice for online tax prep

H&R Block is an excellent tax program that caters to a wide range of individuals, from young professionals preparing their first tax return, to couples filing jointly with multiple business expenses and deductions to track. With H&R Block, you can choose the level of professional assistance you need to prepare your taxes accurately and efficiently. It offers a comprehensive range of features at competitive prices, making it one of our favorites among tax software options.

TurboTax Review 4.5 Star Rating

TurboTax

4.5 Star Rating
  • Free for simple federal and state tax returns
  • $39 for Deluxe (maximize deductions and credits)
  • $69 for Premier (investments and rental property)
  • $89 for Self-Employed
  • Pay $50 - $80 more (depending on the tier) for live, on-demand help and advice
  • Can also upgrade at any time to have a professional finish and file your taxes for you
  • $39 for each state return
  • Guarantees include 100% accurate calculations, maximum refund, and audit support
  • Almost 250,000 five-star reviews

TurboTax is a tax preparation software that was developed and released by Intuit in the mid-1980s. It was designed to help individuals and businesses prepare and file their taxes more easily and accurately. Over the years, TurboTax has become one of the most popular tax preparation services in the United States, thanks to its user-friendly interface and comprehensive set of features.

Three levels of service

TurboTax lets you take as much or as little of a DIY approach to your taxes as you prefer - and you can always change your mind and upgrade if you get stuck or frustrated in the process. There are two levels of personalized service you can add on: live, on-demand help and advice (but ultimately you still prepare your return and submit it for filing yourself through TurboTax) or full service (where an expert steps in, prepares your return, and files it for you). Of course, as you'd imagine, there's a cost for every increased level of service.

4 plans, each with 2 available upgrades

Here's what you can expect from TurboTax's pricing:

  • Basic: $0 for simple federal AND state returns. At the time of this review, this plan also came with free expert help, and you could upgrade to the second tier (having someone step in and do it for you) for $169.
  • Deluxe: This plan is for relatively simple returns that may have some deductions and credits to consider. You start out paying $39 for DIY, or jump to the live help tier for $89 (an extra $50). Adding full service would tack on an extra $130, bringing your total to $219.
  • Premier: If you have investments or rental property, you'll need to start with this plan for $69. On-demand help boosts your price to $139 (an extra $60). The full service upgrade adds on $190, so you'd pay $329 in all.
  • Self-Employed: Freelancers, contractors, and entrepreneurs will need to start at this service tier for $89. You'll pay $169 to upgrade to on-demand help ($80 extra). Full service is an additional $190, for a total of $359.

Costly, but may be worth it

That puts TurboTax up there as one of the most expensive online tax preparation options in our review. However, we don't think that's necessarily a drawback: many rival platforms don't give you any options for help, or you're locked in once you've chosen a plan. We actually think it's a feature, not a bug, to have access to multiple help options. Whether or not that offers the value you're looking for is up to you - for example, you might be able to get your taxes prepared locally by a professional for less than what TurboTax is charging for its full-service plans - but at least you have the choice.

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No phone verification required

Not sure which plan is right for you? Even before you create an account, TurboTax asks you to select all situations that apply so that they can make a good recommendation for you. These include things like "I have a job (received a W-2)" , "I donated to charity" , and "I paid rent" . From there, you enter your email and desired user ID; your phone number is optional but recommended for maximum account security, but we appreciate that it's not required like with many competitor services. (It's worth pointing out that we were repeatedly asked to enter a phone number and verify it for security purposes; we had to skip that step several times in a row before we could get started with our return.)

Flexible and friendly

You'll find the series of questions-and-answers required to prepare your tax return with TurboTax is friendly and approachable, even fun. For example, after you enter your address and birthdate, it asks you to indicate if you're feeling "good" , "not good" , or "don't ask" about doing your taxes. Once you've answered a few introductory questions, you'll be able to skip around as you wish (maybe you want to jump right to deductions and then go back to income) or just keep following the questions as provided.

Guarantees for peace of mind

This tax prep company is really confident that you'll love their service. They guarantee that your results will be accurate, that they'll generate your maximum possible refund, and that you'll be supported in the event of an audit. TurboTax takes it one step further than most rivals: up until the point where you file your return (which constitutes confirmation that you're satisfied with their service), you can request a refund for any services you've paid for.

Millions of happy clients

You can see why over 90% of TurboTax users give this online tax prep service a rating of four or five stars: it's straightforward to use, easy to upgrade to get help as desired, and backed by tons of guarantees. Over 56 million people last year alone filed their taxes using this service, many of which were repeat customers - going all the way back to the days when TurboTax was only available as a CD and had to be installed on users' computers.

Almost a first-place winner

The only reasons we don't put TurboTax at the top of our list? It's much more expensive than our first-place winner, and there's no in-person option like our second-place choice. That's it. Beyond that, TurboTax is everything you could need from an online tax preparation platform and we have no concerns recommending it as one of the services you consider this tax season.

Tax Slayer Review 4 Star Rating

Tax Slayer

4 Star Rating
  • $0 for Simply Free (basic federal + one state return)
  • $19.95 for Classic (suitable for most federal tax situations)
  • $39.95 for Premium (includes Ask a Tax Pro, live chat, skip-the-line phone/email support)
  • $49.95 for Self-Employed (personal/business income, 1099, Schedule C)
  • $39.95 for each state return
  • Free, unlimited phone and email support on every return
  • Guaranteed maximum refund
  • 100% accuracy guarantee
  • In business for over 50 years
  • "A+" rated and accredited by the BBB

Tax Slayer gives you all the forms, calculations, and resources necessary to get your federal and state tax returns filed. In business for more than 50 years, this Georgia-based company has helped millions of Americans with its cloud-based, DIY tax preparation software.

Could be cheaper or more expensive - it depends

Whether or not Tax Slayer will be your best deal for online tax prep will depend entirely on the combination of services you need. If you have a basic return with no dependents, no interest income, and so on, this is going to be an incredible bargain - because Tax Slayer is one of a very small number of services in our review that lets you file both your federal and state returns for free. On the other hand, anyone else needing to file a more complex return might find this platform to be more expensive at $39.95 for all state returns, plus federal filing fees ranging from $19.95 to $49.95. But, even those fees aren't so over-the-top as to put this online tax prep option out of the running: they're pretty comparable with rival services.

Help is easier to come by now

We're glad to see that Tax Slayer has made it easier to reach their support team, compared with the last time we evaluated the service. We had no trouble getting to the support phone number, email form, or the chat feature accessible by logging into our account. Customer feedback reflects that as well: in the past, there were lots of complaints about help being unavailable, but those have definitely diminished since then.

A few snags at first

To get started with Tax Slayer, you'll enter your email address, mobile phone, and desired username and password. Be aware that it might take you several tries to get the site to accept your preferred username: even when we entered random combinations of letters and numbers that were almost guaranteed to be unique, we got "username not available" quite a few times. Also, there's a box automatically checked to verify your account with your mobile number, but we were able to uncheck that box and proceed anyway.

Guidance for your return type

When you select the type of return you think you'll need, you'll get extra guidance for your situation. For example, choosing Self-Employed gives you immediate access to Tax Slayer's appropriately-named Self-Employed Guide, and you'll find areas throughout your return marked with a self-employed badge to help you explore ways to maximize your deductions and credits.

Best Tax Software

No surprises in the process

Beyond that, the online tax prep process follows the norm: answer guided questions, get prompted if something looks wrong or is left blank, all the way through to e-filing your federal (and state, if selected) returns. Like most services, you're guaranteed the maximum possible refund and 100% accuracy - but, naturally, that depends on the accuracy of the information you enter too.

Reputable tax prep company

Tax Slayer has a strong reputation, starting with an "A+" and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau. While there were a few complaints filed there, the company responded appropriately to all of them. Beyond the BBB, over 13,000 people took the time to leave Tax Slayer a five-star review, averaging 4.3 out of 5 stars across nearly 20,000 ratings.

Happy customers

Most clients are very happy with their experience using Tax Slayer to file their federal and state returns, and plenty have returned year after year to the platform. A few clients complain that they weren't directed to forms they wound up needing, or that they were told to expect a refund only to get a letter from the IRS saying they owed money instead. Like any tax prep software, this platform is limited by the information entered by the customer, and most of those errors seem to be on their part.

Solid choice for online tax preparation

Tax Slayer is a solid choice for doing your taxes. You'll get the most value if you've got a simple federal return, because your state filing will come for free. You might be able to pay a little less with one of the higher-ranked services, but overall Tax Slayer can be trusted as a partner in preparing your tax return online.

E-File Review 3.5 Star Rating

E-File

3.5 Star Rating
  • Free to file a basic return (income below $100,000)
  • $25 for Deluxe
  • $35 for Premium (income over $100,000)
  • $32 for state filing fee
  • Customer support via phone only available for Deluxe and Premium users
  • Basic plans offer support by email
  • "A+" rated and accredited by the BBB
  • In business for over 10 years

Want to file your taxes online and not spend a ton of money to do it? If that sounds like the right tax preparation platform for you, E-File should get your attention. You won't pay more than $50 per return (state or federal), even for the highest tier of service.

Support not very robust

But, speaking of service, you should be aware upfront that E-File is limited with respect to customer support. If you're using their Basic (free) online tax preparation, you can only get help via email. However, if you're on the Deluxe or Premium plan, you'll find a support phone number after you log into your account and click on the "Help & Support" link in the upper right navigation.

No need to verify your number

Now that we got that out of the way, let's look at what you can expect from the tax preparation process through E-File. You'll start out by entering your email address, desired username and password, and your mobile number. There's a box checked to verify your information with a text, but we were able to continue without doing so. Next, you'll agree to E-File's terms and conditions and click through any updates available about the current tax year. The rest is pretty standard: SSN, date of birth, address, and so forth.

Could be confusing to brand-new taxpayers

E-File assumes that you already have a general idea of what forms you'll need to file your taxes: at one stage, it asks you to start entering them on your own (W-2, 1099-INT, and so on). You can skip that part and add things later, but we found it confusing and think that anyone brand-new to filing their taxes online would feel that way too.

A little glitchy

Another frustration we had was getting 404 errors throughout the process. Those went away when we refreshed the page, but each time we worried that our progress might not have been saved.

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Can't upload previous returns

And, as we discovered the last time we evaluated this tax preparation platform, there's no way to upload a previous tax return (to save time in filling things out) or to connect directly with an employer to upload your W-2.

Tax prep on a shoestring budget

E-File is a terrific choice if you're trying to save money in every possible way. You'll pay nothing for a basic federal return, $25 for Deluxe - the right fit if you have a relatively simple return but need to file with dependents, deduct mortgage interest, and your income is $100K or less - and $35 for the Premium Plus tier. And, at that highest tier, you'll get IRS Audit Assistance as well. Adding on a state return is just $32 more.

Positive reputation

We're also not concerned about E-File's reputation, with an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau. The service gets lots of love from users too, typically averaging about 4.6 out of 5 stars. People say that it's straightforward and that it's easy to get help through email or over the phone when needed.

Some downsides to consider

However, there are other tax preparation sites out there that offer much more in terms of features and convenience - and for not much more money than what you'll spend through E-File. There isn't as much hand-holding and explanations as you'll get through some of this service's rivals, and we missed being able to upload the prior year's return and connect directly with our W-2 information. And while not everyone will have issues with the website, our experience was glitchy and left us feeling a little anxious about our tax return in general.

Good but not quite the best

E-File isn't a bad choice for doing your taxes online, especially if your situation is relatively uncomplicated and you're comfortable with the process of creating your return - you have some experience with previous years' tax prep and you understand what kinds of documents you'll need. Plus, you won't get the service too much cheaper anywhere else. However, we'd recommend looking at some of E-File's higher-rated competitors first, to see if you'd get more value by paying a little more for your online tax preparation service.

Tax Act Review 3.5 Star Rating

Tax Act

3.5 Star Rating
  • Free for simple federal returns
  • $24.95 for Deluxe federal (filers with loans/children)
  • $34.95 for Premier federal (filers with investments)
  • $64.95 for Self-Employed
  • $44.95 for state returns
  • $100k Accuracy Guarantee
  • Unlimited live tax expert assistance at no cost
  • "A+" rated by the BBB
  • Founded in 1998

Tax Act is an established name in online tax preparation, with over 90 million e-filed returns since its start in 1998. Not only does the company help customers accurately file their taxes, but it also strives to educate consumers on ways to improve their tax situation and overall financial well-being.

Fees are comparable with other services

You can start any return for free, but unless you've got the most basic federal return (no dependents, no mortgage interest, no investments, no freelance income), you'll still wind up paying to use Tax Act. But, the fees they charge are reasonable and on par with competitors', starting at $24.95 for Deluxe and going up to $64.95 for Self-Employed returns. You'll also tack on an extra $44.95 for each state return you want to prepare through Tax Act.

Double verification required

When you create your account, be sure to enter your correct mobile number and email address: Tax Act requires you to authenticate both in order to be a client. One feature offered by Tax Act that you don't always get with rival preparation platforms is easy imports. You can upload a PDF of your previous year's tax return, and Tax Act's software will copy over all of the pertinent details into your current one. That option is provided right after you authenticate your information, but you can always skip importing it and go to manual entry.

Move freely through the questions

You'll be walked through a series of questions used to fill out your return. We appreciate that you can skip any question and come back to it later. The navigation links on the side of the page (or under the three-line dropdown on a minimized screen) makes it easy to move around within the questions. Overall, the process is smooth and there's plenty of information if you're not sure what's being asked.

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Help is offered - but not always reachable

While we'd like to get excited about Tax Act's Xpert Assist service, which gives you free help over the phone (and even screen-sharing if you need it), we're not overly optimistic about how it plays out in reality. Why? In the past, this company has fallen on its face - hard - when it comes to delivering on any kind of customer service. Clients have complained about emails and phone calls that go unanswered, being kept on hold indefinitely, and getting repeated "all agents are busy" messages. Xpert Assist isn't much of a feature if you can't reach anyone, and that's proven to be the case rather often with Tax Act.

Mixed feedback from clients

Despite having an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau and a 100% response rate to complaints filed there, we're still not thrilled to see many issues marked as "answered" but not necessarily "resolved" . There seems to be a lot of back-and-forth for some clients who try to take advantage of Tax Act's $100k Accuracy Guarantee: we found quite a few cases where the taxpayer felt that Tax Act was at fault for errors that resulted in delayed refunds, penalties and interest, or other less-than-ideal outcomes, but the company was slow to accept responsibility (if at all).

Still gets thousands of five-star reviews

And yet, there were nearly 23,000 reviews on the Tax Act site itself at the time of this evaluation, and 74% gave this service a perfect five-star rating. This tax prep platform doesn't hide its negative reviews, so you can trust the totals to be relatively accurate. We did find clients who say that the Xpert Assist service worked very well for them, and many others who have used this service for years without any problems.

Showing improvement

While there are some reasons to be cautious when using Tax Act, we've seen enough improvements to give this online tax preparation service a boost in our ratings. Keep it in mind as an option if you don't find what you need with one of our higher-ranked platforms to file your tax return.

Liberty Tax Review 2.5 Star Rating

Liberty Tax

2.5 Star Rating
  • 3 types of tax prep available: DIY online, remote with a professional, in-person
  • $55.95 for Basic Federal Online: supports Forms 1040, 8853; Schedule A, B. Best suited for people with simple tax situations (single or married with no dependents).
  • $75.95 for Deluxe Federal Online: supports forms 1040, 4562, 8829, 4136, 8839, 8853; Schedules A, B, C. Suitable for taxpayers with dependents, investments, home ownership
  • $95.95 for Premium Federal Online: supports forms 1040, 4562, 8829, 4136, 4684, 4835, 8839, 8853; Schedules A, B, C, E, F, K-1. You'll need this tier if you're self-employed or you have another less-common form of income.
  • $36.95 for State returns
  • Maximum Refund Guarantee
  • Accuracy Guarantee
  • In business since 1997

Liberty Tax is an all-in-one tax preparation service, letting you prepare your taxes completely DIY online, work remotely with a tax professional, or visit one of their 2,500+ retail branches across the US (and Canada too). In business since 1997, Liberty Tax was acquired by NextPoint Financial in 2021 - which seems to have led to some improvements to this company's online tax prep services since our last evaluation.

Remote filing gives the best of both worlds

One of Liberty Tax's newest additions is what they call "Remote Filing" . It's kind of a hybrid between filing your taxes online by yourself and working with an in-person professional. You either download the Liberty Tax mobile app or create an account in the Client Portal online (which you will have to verify via email AND text - no fake addresses or numbers allowed). Once you've jumped through all of those hoops, you'll upload any forms required for your return, like your W-2s or 1099-INTs, and a tax preparer will reach out with any questions before completing your return. Liberty Tax doesn't disclose the fees for this service upfront, so we think it's safe to say they'll be comparable to their in-person tax prep charges (namely, in the $500+ range, based on what clients have said).

No free returns here

But, if you're looking for the more traditional online tax preparation path, where you do most of the work yourself, there are three options here: Basic ($55.95), Deluxe ($75.95), and Premium ($99.95), plus $36.95 for any state returns you want to include. As you'll notice, Liberty Tax doesn't give anyone a free pass: even with a simple, basic return, you'll still have to pay. That's one negative for this tax prep company, compared with most rivals who at least allow uncomplicated returns to be filed at no cost.

No head start either

If you're an early bird who likes to get a head start on your tax returns, you could be out of luck with Liberty Tax's DIY online process. When we created an account before the new year, we were told we'd have to wait until our W-2s came in before proceeding - and we weren't given any access to a dashboard, portal, or anything else. There's no preview to see how the return info will be compiled, what kinds of questions will be asked, zero. In other words, unless it's already tax season and you're ready to go, Liberty Tax will keep you in the dark. We're mystified as to why they wouldn't let taxpayers start filling in basic information at any time.

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Standard industry guarantees

The one positive we found for Liberty's service is that they guarantee they'll get you the maximum possible refund on your return. You'll get a refund of your preparation fees if you enter your tax return info on a competitor site and get more money back. Another guarantee covers any penalties or interest charged due to a math error on Liberty's part - but that seems like it should be a given.

Not enough love for this tax prep service

Feedback for Liberty Tax mostly relates to clients who used their in-person tax filing services - but reviews for Liberty Tax overall aren't positive. While some people have gotten preparers they love or have used the online service successfully, it's much more common to find customers complaining that fees weren't clearly explained, refunds were much later than expected, and customer support was hard to come by.

Go with a higher-ranked online tax preparation platform

Despite offering a more user-friendly online experience than before, Liberty Tax still earns a below-average rating. The company would benefit from being much more upfront with how they work, and from offering a free option for basic federal return filers. We recommend choosing an online tax preparation service that gives you more for your money, unless you're absolutely set on using a company like Liberty that has in-person help built in as an option.

Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

Additionally, many online tax preparation services offer a variety of helpful tools and resources, such as calculators and guides, to make the process as simple as possible. Some even offer live support from tax professionals to help you with any questions or issues that may arise. Overall, online tax preparation can be a convenient and efficient way to handle your taxes.

While online tax services can save you a lot of time and stress by staying up-to-date on each change made by the IRS, not all tax services are the same. The best one for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. It's helpful to research and compare the different tax services to determine which one is the best fit for you.

Here are some criteria that you should use to narrow down the options:

  • Ease of use. Is the website difficult to navigate, or does it clearly walk you through all the steps of preparing your tax return?
  • Multiple filing options. Most online tax preparation services give you several tiers of service, starting with free-to-file and going up to more complicated returns (for example, if you're self-employed). You'll also want to see if there are options for both federal and state filing, if that applies to you.
  • Customer support. Is it important to you to have the ability to meet with a tax preparer in person at some point during the process? How quickly can you get help via phone, online chat, or face-to-face?
  • Value. What will you get for the fees you pay? Are there any extras included that make the service more valuable than its rivals?
  • Reputation. What do other taxpayers say about their experience with the tax preparation service? Did their returns get accepted quickly and without errors?

To help you get your taxes filed accurately and affordably, Top Consumer Reviews has evaluated and ranked today's most popular online tax preparation services. We're sure this information will make it less stressful to get your federal and state returns taken care of (and hopefully well before April 15th!).

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Tax Preparation Service FAQ

Online Tax preparation services walk you through a series of questions, much like you'd get with a human tax preparer: are you married, do you have a mortgage, and so on. The program fills in your tax forms based on the answers you provide, and at the end your return is ready for filing. Tax preparation services allow you to file your returns electronically, but you always have the option to file them by mail.
That's up to you! Almost every tax preparation platform today makes it possible to do your entire return online, no downloads or CD-ROMs necessary. But, if you prefer to do it the more old-school way, you can still find tax preparation services that download to your computer and let you work offline.
That depends on several factors. The more complicated your financial situation, the more likely it is that you'll need a tax preparation service that goes beyond the basics. Most tax preparation services will walk you through the options and recommend the right product for your needs.
Yes, most of the time. Many services will take the information you entered during your federal return and carry it over into your applicable state return. Keep in mind that you may have to pay extra for your state's online tax service. You can opt to file your federal return electronically (often included at no extra charge) and file your state return by mail if you wish.
For the most basic tax returns (those that only have W2 income, no investments, no mortgage interest to deduct), some tax preparation services are completely free. Otherwise, you can expect costs ranging from $19 - $120, with the most expensive packages for those who have self-employment/business income and expenses to report.
You'll often find answers built right into the tax preparation service. Look for a button to click on the page where you're having trouble, for explanations and additional info. If you'd like to get help from a tax professional, you might be able to connect with someone by phone or online (though that may incur extra charges). A few online tax preparation services have in-person options if you get stuck and want a tax preparer to take over or just want to go over your return face-to-face.
The good news is that your tax preparation service will likely have a robust detection method for uncovering any errors you may have made. Of course, it can't tell if you entered the wrong numbers for your income, but if it spots anything obviously wrong you'll get a notification and a prompt to review that part of your return. If you file your taxes and later realize there was an error, you can file an amended return.
Getting an audit notification can be scary! Depending on which tax preparation service you use, you might have audit support and guidance built into your package. Some services also offer full audit representation for an additional fee.
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