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      July 4, 2020

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E-File vs Liberty Tax

Best Tax Software

To help you find the Best Tax Software, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of E-File and Liberty Tax.

To see ALL of our reviews for the Best Tax Software, please Click Here

What's the best tax software for preparing your federal and state returns? In the past, many taxpayers either tried to slog through the paperwork on their own or spent huge amounts of money to hire a professional tax preparer. Of course, in today's digital age, it should come as no surprise that more than 53 million people use tax software to prepare and file their returns online.

One of the most compelling reasons to use a reputable tax software package is because of the constant changes to tax law. Figuring out what exemptions you qualify for, what income requires you to pay additional taxes, and how to claim any deductions can be challenging and also have a major impact on whether you get a big refund - or owe big time!

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Best Reviews

2020

Tax Software Reviews

3.5 stars
E-File

E-FILE

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Cost:

Simple Federal E-file - free

Deluxe Plus E-file - $18.99

Premium Plus E-file - $34.95

State - $19

E-file is one of the newest names in the online tax prep marketplace, getting its start in 2014. Since then, more than a million US taxpayers have used the platform to prepare their tax returns.

The main reason to consider E-file for your tax program is because of their rock-bottom pricing. As with most providers, you can get free Federal Basic software that includes single or joint filing. For just a little extra at $18.99, you'll get access to E-file's Deluxe Plus program, which includes income up to $100,000 and allows you to file with dependents, deduct mortgage interest, and claim any retirement income. Finally, for just $34.95, E-file gives you their Premium Plus package, which supports all deductions and credits, allows you to enter both business and personal income, and allows you to itemize your deductions if necessary. These prices are much lower than the competition.

Be aware that E-file keeps those prices low by not offering downloadable or CD-ROM tax software - in other words, your only option with this service is to complete their online tax prep program.

You should also know that E-file only offers customer support via email. Fortunately, many customer reviews say that their questions were answered promptly and accurately, even without any more live options.

If you're new to filing your taxes with an online program, you can find a wealth of information at the bottom of the E-file site. Whether you want to learn about deductions and credits or your rights as a taxpayer, you'll find that and much more. E-file doesn't offer any dedicated support in the event of an audit, so if you have any concerns about what can trigger audits and how to respond if you are selected for one, be sure to read that article on the site too.

So, compared with the two higher-ranked tax software programs in our review, what is E-file missing? First, you won't get as much hand-holding throughout the process of filling in your tax forms. You can't upload previous tax returns in order to automatically fill in some of the details you need, and you can't connect to your employer's system to upload your W-2 directly: you'll have to enter all of that information manually. And, regarding that email-only customer support, you'll only get help with using the tax software itself, not advice from tax professionals. Again, keeping their service to the bare-bones minimum is the way E-file keeps costs low.

While E-file isn't the most robust tax prep program available, it is the most affordable for most people. We recommend this tax software for people who have simple returns or who already have some experience with preparing their own returns - you'll save a lot of money compared with higher-priced competitors.

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3 stars
Liberty Tax

LIBERTY TAX

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Cost:

Simple Federal - $34.95

Basic Federal - $44.95

Deluxe Federal - $64.95

Premium Federal - $84.95

State preparation and filing extra

Liberty Tax has helped millions of taxpayers to prepare and file their returns since 1997. As one of the few online tax software options that includes the ability to meet with an in-person representative if problems arise, it's easy to see why people would be interested in using this service.

Because of their 4000+ brick-and-mortar locations, Liberty is able to include a free in-office double-check of your tax return when you use their service to prepare it online. Along with features that allow you to import previous years' returns that you prepared using competitor software, online-to-office transition of your in-progress return if you get stuck, and audit assistance, Liberty Tax seems like a good choice for tax prep.

However, using the Liberty Tax website wasn't as easy as most of their competitors. When we went to get an idea of their online tax options, we were distracted by the constantly-scrolling display of their four federal tax filing packages: Simple, Basic, Deluxe, and Federal. To find out what each package included, we had to click on the "Start Now" button - which took us to a page that asked us to create an account instead of giving us more detailed information. (It felt like we were being asked to get married on a first date!)

This might be due to the fact that Liberty Tax is prioritizing a different site, eSmart Tax, as their online tax software portal. Although some pages on both sites had a copyright date that was 2 years old at the time of our review, the eSmart site was easier to navigate and understand. Both companies offer the same services, as eSmart Tax is owned by Liberty Tax.

Liberty Tax is also the only service in our review that doesn't have an option that includes free filing of simple federal returns. Even their sister site, eSmart Tax, has a free option. Liberty does allow you to create an account for free and start preparing your return - "try us for free and pay only when you file" - but who wants to go through all of the steps of preparing a return and then NOT file? That's really not giving you anything for free, is it?

Because the Liberty Tax site was challenging to navigate, less than transparent in their pricing, and required you to create an account and start filing a return to see how their system works, you'll probably have a more hassle-free experience with another service. And, if you like the in-office features offered by Liberty Tax but want a fluid, up-to-date online experience, your best bet would be to start with the eSmart Tax site instead of using the Liberty Tax main website.

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Continued from above

Tax software can save you a lot of time and stress by staying up-to-date on each change made by the IRS, so that your return is accurate to the penny. But with all of the different options out there, how can you decide which tax software is right for you?

Here are several factors to keep in mind:

  • Complexity of Your Return. If you're a small business owner who owns a home and has numerous investments, your return will be much more complicated than a single person with no dependents and renting an apartment. Make sure the tax software you choose fits your situation.
  • Format. Do you need or prefer to have a tax prep program that can be downloaded to a laptop rather than used 100% online? If your internet connection is limited, you may want a program that lets you work offline all or most of the time, with options to file your return on paper as well as via e-file.
  • Live Help. If you're unsure of yourself when putting together your return, you may feel more reassured if you choose a company that offers help in real time from tax professionals. Some services give you that assistance via phone and/or live chat, while others maintain brick-and-mortar offices throughout the US that you can visit in person. Be sure to check if these services are included with the purchase of the tax software or if you'll have to pay extra for them.
  • Cost. What will you spend to prepare and file your tax return? Is it comparable to what you'd pay for tax software on a competitor site? Most services don't include state preparation and filing in their federal tax prep packages, so look for those additional fees if that applies to your situation.

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Tax Software available today. We hope this information helps you choose the right package for your needs, so that you can file your returns accurately and easily!

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