It's tax season again.
Are you excited?
As usual, you have some great choices
for preparing your return with a program, website or app.
Now that the initial brunt of the Trump tax law
has been dealt with,
the major changes this year are different IRA
and 401K contribution limits,
a slightly higher standard deduction,
changes to alimony reporting,
different medical expense deductions
and having to report bitcoin transactions.
But if you join the 37% of Americans
who do their own taxes with software,
you needn't worry about all that stuff.
The app does all the math, creates the necessary forms
and eFiles your returns.
Most of the services work equally well
in a PC's web browser or on a mobile phone.
Note that state tax preparation
often costs more than federal
since it involves extra software development.
Price is a consideration for any product,
but lower income filers can do their taxes for free
with most of the services we reviewed.
If you sold stocks, rented real estate
or had business income,
you need to pay for the version
that supports those activities
with the single exception of Credit Karma Tax.
So which are the best online tax services?
This year we went back to TurboTax Deluxe as our top pick
after H&R Block edged it out last year.
TurboTax offers the best interface,
thorough coverage of tax topics and outstanding support,
all of which improved over last year.
TurboTax has gotten so good
that you may feel like you're chatting
with an accountant rather than working in an app.
There's even an add on service with live video help
from tax experts you can access year round.
As you might expect, TurboTax costs more
than most other services.
The most popular deluxe edition
lists for $60 and $45 per state.
Our next top pick is H&R Block
which also features a slick interface,
comprehensive coverage of tax topics
and context-sensitive help.
We just found that this year
TurboTax was better at suggesting actions
that could lower your tax bill.
H&R Block's deluxe edition lists for $29.99
and $36.99 per state.
We also liked TaxAct a lot this year.
It costs a bit less than the two top players
with fine navigation tools,
data entry options and form support,
but its support falls a bit short of the leaders.
TaxAct Deluxe costs $29.95 and $39.95 per state.
If price is your main concern, look to Credit Karma
which is totally free for all the tax situations it covers.
It features a simple clean interface and support for most,
but not all tax forms.
Even state returns are free with all but New Hampshire,
Tennessee, Montana and Wisconsin supported.
Despite its name, FreeTaxUSA
is only free for federal returns.
You pay to prepare state returns with it,
but even that's priced lower than most competitors.
The interface is comparatively bare bones
and less streamlined, however.
You pay $6.99 extra for live chat support
and $14.99 per state.
Another inexpensive option is TaxSlayer
which costs just $17 for all tax forms,
even if you're claiming dependents,
are a homeowner or have retirement interest,
dividend and other investment income.
For that low price though
you give up some help found in other services.
State returns cost $29 each.
A couple of services we don't recommend
are Jackson Hewitt and Liberty Tax.
Both of these come from respectable
brick and mortar tax services,
but both lack the rich interfaces, tools and support
found in the others we tested.
Neither is especially cheap either
with Liberty Basic listing for $44.95
with $39.95 per state
and Jackson Hewitt's $29.99 plus $36.99 per state.
So there's a look at your 2020 options
for online tax filing.
For full details on each service, check PCMag.com.