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Best tax software of 2021

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Filing taxes can be a grueling and time-consuming task and if you don’t get your figures right, it can cause you plenty of headache in the long run. Thankfully, technology, on its never-ending quest to make our lives easier, has concocted some pretty handy solutions for your tax-filing troubles, making completing your tax returns easier and quicker.

Some of these tax software products can do some core filing for a basic fee, while others charge more as they take care of additional tax areas, like real estate or investments. Regardless, here are some of the best tools to make managing your tax returns as painless as possible.

H&R Block TaxCut

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1. H&R Block TaxCut

Flexible collection of options

User-friendly and stylish interface 
Very flexible 
Plenty of features 
Advanced options can get expensive 

H&R Block provides various packages, according to your specific tax-filing requirements. You can choose whether you want to do your taxes online or get help from a professional to take some of the load off your back. You can further define the exact amount of work you want to have done by the professional or by yourself.

If you feel confident doing your taxes completely by yourself, then the Online collection of packages is the right for you. It allows you to get the work done securely from your desktop or mobile device. If you have a W-2, have kids and education costs, then you qualify for the Free Online option, at a federal cost of $0 plus $0 per state. You’ll get snap-a-pic W-2 importing options, access to help center and tech support via chat.

The Deluxe Online package is designed for maximizing credits and deductions, plus HSA contributions and will cost you $49.99, plus $44.99 per state filed. It includes free features plus six years’ access to tax returns, DeductionPro to optimize donations, as well as tech support via chat or phone.

Premium Online costs $69.99 plus $44.99 per state filed and is intended for freelancers, contractors, and investors. It includes the deluxe features plus importing expenses from popular expense-tracking apps, as well as cost basis calculation.

Self-employed and small businesses should go for the aptly named Self-Employed Online plan, at the price of $109.99 plus $44.99 per state filed, as it will get them premium features plus importing Uber driver tax information. All of the Online plans allow you to start for free.

Online Assist is for those who need assistance from a professional in their tax management. Basically, all of the packages take the plans from the Online collection and equip them with unlimited expert help. The first is Basic Online Assist costing $69.99 with no additional cost per state filed. It combines the Free Online package with unlimited expert help.

It is followed by Deluxe Online Assist at $109.99 plus $44.99 per state filed, Premium Online Assist at $159.99 plus $44.99 per state filed, and Self-Employed Online Assist at $194.99 plus $44.99 per state filed.

The offer doesn’t end there, not by a long shot. With H&R Block, you can also get your hands on tax returns delivery service and virtual filing. Specifically, the Drop-Off service offers various options for tax delivery, all starting at $69 plus an additional fee per state.

With the In Office option, you can also choose to make an appointment with a tax pro and work together on your tax returns, starting at $69 plus an additional fee per state.

H&R Block also allows you to download its software under several pricing options - Basic Tax Software at $19.95, Deluxe + State Tax Software at $44.95, Premium Tax Software at $64.95, and Premium & Business Tax Software at $79.95, all with potential additional fees. 

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2. TurboTax

Veteran in the tax management business

Experienced provider with lots of features 
Federal tax can be calculated for free 
Can store your documents for later use 
 State tax returns may be slightly pricey

TurboTax is a well-known player in the tax returns field, with a successful career that dates back to the mid-1980s when it was established by the software company Chipsoft (now Intuit Consumer Tax Group). 

It offers its services under quite a few pricing options, starting with the free tier for simpler tax returns, both federal and state. This offer covers W-2 income, Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC), and child tax credits.

The most popular is the Deluxe package at $60 federal plus $50 per state filed that covers all W-2 and 1099-MISC income, mortgage and property tax deductions, charitable donations, student loan interest, and education expenses, health savings account contributions, and retirement savings contributions.

It is followed by the Premier tier at $90 plus $50 state and is ideal for investments and rental property. The features include auto-importing of your investment info and tax data, scanning your return to check if everything’s in order, and on-demand help from a TurboTax specialist.

The Self-Employed, at $120 plus $50 per state covers personal and business income and expenses and adds guidance for freelancers, contractors, and small business owners, industry-specific deductions, audit assessments, and the QuickBooks Self-Employed bookkeeping package.

The vendor also throws in the ItsDeductible option to help you calculate donations deductibles. On top of that, you can store your documents online if you need them for later, like in the case of an audit.

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3. FreeTaxUSA

Manage your taxes for free

Free software 
Easy to use 
Good mobile apps 
There can be hidden costs 

Like its name says, FreeTaxUSA is a free tax software that takes care of all your federal tax returns, including a full 1040, or even more complex options like an Earned Income Credit or K-1. However, adding a state tax return will cost you $14.99.

For those not really savvy with bookkeeping, there’s also a Deluxe package where you can find features like Priority Support and Audit Assist, and the capability to manage amended returns. It will only cost you an additional but very reasonable $6.99.

FreeTaxUSA will take care of a wide array of areas, including self-employed income, government payments, retirement, debt cancellation, home sale, payment processing, social security, stocks and interests, as well as tuition program distributions.

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4. TaxAct

No-hassle approach

Plenty of pricing options 
Simple and intuitive interface 
Decent app 
 High state tax filing prices 

TaxAct is a simple and affordable tax solution that takes away the unnecessary hassle from the process of filing your taxes. If you have a W-2 income, dependents, college expenses, or retirement income to declare, you qualify for the free tier, even for the state taxes. 

As for the paid packages, the cheapest is Deluxe at $44.95 plus $54.95 per state filed, covering homeowners plus people with credits, adjustments, and deductions. It takes everything from the free tier and expands it with additional options, like itemized deductions, mortgage interest, real estate taxes, student loan interest, HSA, adoption credits, as well as tax specialist phone support.

Premier costs $69.95 plus $54.95 per state filed and will get you everything from Deluxe+ plus stocks, gains, and losses, sales of home or other investments, royalty and Schedule K-1 income, investment income expenses, rental property income, foreign bank and financial accounts, and prioritized support with screen sharing.

Finally, at $79.95 plus $54.95 per state filed, Self Employed throws in freelance income, business and farm income, personalized business deductions, depreciation calculation, and year-round planning resources.

There are also bundle deals, combining individual and business options at $200, as well as downloadable editions of Basic ($19.95), Deluxe ($99.95), Premier ($109.95), and Self-Employed ($119.95) packages.

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5. TaxSlayer

Reliable expert at low-cost tax returns

Very reasonably priced
Extensive support for all tiers 
Lots of pricing options  
 Can be overwhelming for beginners 

TaxSlayer is available under more affordable prices while offering a decent range of packages suitable for various requirements. They start with the Simply Free tier which allows you to file simple taxes, no charge, ideal for people who are single, married and filing a joint return, or a student. 

The most affordable paid option is the Classic package which covers all tax situations and costs $24.95 plus $39.95 per state filed. It is followed by Premium at $44.95 plus $39.95 per state which allows you to quickly prepare and e-file, as well as getting the IRS audit assistance and priority support.

If you’re in need of 1099 and Schedule C support, tax tips and resources, or a deduction finder, and you’re willing to pay $54.95 plus $39.95 per state filed, then Self-Employed is for you.

Should you get stuck on which package to choose from, you can take advantage of the provider’s online guide to help you out.

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6. Jackson Hewitt Online

Expert assistance for all your tax requirements

Real-person assistance 
Maximum refund guarantee 
 Can be expensive in some areas 

Jackson Hewitt Online offers its services under a straight fee of $25 for just federal returns or $49 for unlimited state returns and federal returns. The price is the same regardless of the situation, so for instance, if you had childcare expenses or are self-employed, the price stays the same.

You also have the option of using the Tax Pro From Home, an assisted, virtual tax prep and filing service. You'll be assisted by a skilled Tax Pro, available by secure chat or phone, without needing to leave your home.

There are three packages available for Tax Pro From Home. Standard, which is priced at $69 and is best for simple filers, students, and renters. The next package is Deluxe, which is best for families and homeowners and is priced at $179. The final package, Premier, is priced at $249 and is best suited for self-employed and complex filers. All packages have unlimited W-2s and a $50 state fee.

The platform is simple enough to master and the company guarantees maximum refund and claims it will cover the difference if any other service does the job better.

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7. Credit Karma Tax

Simple tax filing, free of charge

 Entirely free 
 Simple and intuitive interface 
 Integrated support
 Requires Credit Karma account 

Credit Karma was founded in 2007 as a multinational personal finance company whose services include providing free credit scores, and which has recently started offering a free tax filing service called Credit Karma Tax.

Before you can start using it, this service requires you to register for a Credit Karma account. Once you get it done, you’ll notice that it sports an intuitive and minimalistic interface that is easy enough to get around in, even for a beginner.

That said, if your tax situation is more complex, you might want to look elsewhere as the free service doesn’t support some forms and is rather simplistic. It does, however, feature solid customer support and help along your tax filing journey.