TurboTax has changed their experience this year - making their pricing less transparent. As a result, many people are searching for TurboTax Alternatives.
TurboTax has been around since the mid-80s and it’s definitely one of the most well-known tax prep companies out there today.
However, TurboTax reviews are less than positive sometimes, and many users only use it once before they look elsewhere.
Plus, the price can be a sticker shock, especially if you think you're getting one tier, only to discover you need to upgrade to a more expensive pricing tier halfway through your taxes (or even worse, at the very end).
If that’s where you’re at — ready to look elsewhere — you’ve come to the right place. Let's talk about some TurboTax alternatives.
This guide will introduce you to the basic TurboTax features and how this software stacks up against some of its competitors - and see the full list of the best tax software here >>
Comparing TurboTax With Other Tax Software Products
Before you shop around for a new tax software, look over the chart below to learn about additional options, pricing, and more.
Only free for W2 and other basic forms of income.
Robust free tier with W2, Social Security, unemployment, and more.
Only supports W-2 and other basic income forms.
Includes W2 income, unemployment Income, Social Security, and educational credits.
100% free federal return for most tax situations
100% free federal and state returns
$0 - 389 federal;
$0 - $49 state
$0 - $85 federal;
$0 - $37 state
$0 - $64.95 federal;
$39.99 - $44.99 state
$0 - $52.95 federal;
$0 - $39.95 state
Varies by version
Paid versions only
Yes, for all versions
Yes, for all versions
$7.99 - $39.99
Free and paid versions
For an additional fee
$59.95 - $65
For certain paid versions only
*Listed pricing is for personal and self-employed taxes filed online only. Other types of small business and/or in-person filing will be subject to different fees.
Breaking Down TurboTax Software
TurboTax offers an abbreviated free version that works well for employees with W-2 income who don’t itemize their deductions or plan to claim any specialized deductions or credits. The free version doesn't allow you to report freelance income, capital gains, or rental property income. Make sure you understand the limits of free tax software.
For everyone else, TurboTax offers three paid versions of its online product — DIY, Live Assisted, and Live Full Service.
These products range in price from $39 to $389 for federal tax filing, and their prices vary depending on the level of assistance and oversight you want from tax experts. Plus, if you have any state returns, you'll pay between $39 to $49 per state filed.
TurboTax goes the extra mile to search for industry-specific deductions and credits many don’t even know about, and you’ll find extra guidance on tricky tax topics for the self-employed, like deducting mileage, the home office credit, and more.
All versions of online TurboTax software offer an Audit Support Guarantee, meaning you won’t be left to fend for yourself if you are audited for any reason.
If you want live one-on-one support, however, you’ll have to fork over some cash for one of the paid versions of this product. Those who have a more complicated tax situation — e.g., you have foreign earned income, you sold stock or cryptocurrency, or you own a rental property — should consider paying $169 for Live Assisted, in which you’ll work with live tax experts who help you file.
Or, if you don’t have time to file your returns yourself, TurboTax also offers full-service tax preparation, in which you share your tax forms with TurboTax and a local tax expert files for you. Live Full Service costs $89 for individuals with a simple tax situation (W-2) and $389 or more for the self-employed.
TurboTax vs. H&R Block
Both H&R Block and TurboTax offer audit support guidance, live tax support from trained tax professionals, and a free version perfect for easy filers.
H&R Block’s free version is significantly superior, however, since it lets you file with W-2, Social Security income, unemployment income and a variety of other credits and deductions.
Paid versions of H&R Block flow similarly to those of TurboTax.
For those who want to file online; H&R Block offers a:
- Free basic version
- $35 Deluxe version
- $65 Premier version, and
- $85 Self-Employed version
Plus, you can expect to pay $37 per state return.
The Self-Employed version has superior benefits which ease the tax stress for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Both TurboTax and H&R Block offer live customer support you can access online, but H&R Block has physical offices for people who want some hand-holding while they work through their unique tax situation. The price of a one-on-one tax appointment with H&R Block starts at $89, but the company unfortunately isn’t transparent with its pricing for this level of service beyond that base price point.
Bottom line: H&R Block and TurboTax offer similar features, although H&R Block has a slight edge in terms of pricing and customer support, in my opinion.
TurboTax vs. TaxAct
When you look at TurboTax and TaxAct from a distance, it’s easy to see why someone might choose TaxAct.
TaxAct is significantly less expensive — even for its top-tier online product.
If a TaxAct software error generates a higher tax liability or lower refund than you should have received — or if it puts you in a situation in which you must pay legal or audit fees — TaxAct will pay the difference in your recalculated liability or refund or your legal/audit fees up to $100,000.
However, TaxAct's pricing has significantly increased in recent years. It used to be a low-priced leader, and now it's on par with or sometimes more expensive than TurboTax.
TaxAct offers a:
- Free basic version
- $24.99 Deluxe version
- $34.99 Premier version, and
- $64.99 Self-Employed version
TaxAct also charges $39.99 - $44.99 per state return. When you combine the federal and state pricing, its about equal to, or more than, the competition for those with more basic tax needs. But it’s a good deal for freelancers who are trying to keep tax prep costs to a minimum.
TaxAct does offer one-on-one customer support, but it is not known for wowing consumers with a lot of hand-holding. Plus, its "free" version charges a fee for filing a state return, so it's not very competitive with the top free tax software options.
For this reason, you may want to go with TurboTax if you have a simple return that you want to file for free.
TurboTax vs. TaxSlayer
TaxSlayer offers several tiers of software aimed at consumers with different tax situations.
Its Classic and Premium versions are geared towards filers who may have slightly more complicated tax issues than the average person who files only a 1040.
TaxSlayer's Self-Employed version offers special support for people who need help figuring out what they can and cannot deduct and other tax issues specific to small business owners.
TaxSlayer has the following pricing tiers:
- Free version
- $22.95 Classic version
- $42.95 Premium version
- $52.95 Self-Employed version
The free version allows you to file a federal return and one state return for free. For paid versions, you can expect to pay $39.95 per state.
Generally speaking, TaxSlayer is less expensive than TurboTax because it offers fewer perks and features. But, you get access to all tax forms at TaxSlayer's Classic price point. So for filers who know what they are doing, there is significant savings potential.
TurboTax vs. FreeTaxUSA
FreeTaxUSA is a robust alternative to TurboTax that many filers will find a lot of value in.
FreeTaxUSA offers the simplest pricing of all: free. Well, almost. It offers free federal filing and a flat $14.99 fee per state return. But unlike some of its competitors, FreeTaxUSA charges additional fees for live chat support ($7.99), personalized tax advice ($39.99), and audit assistance and defense ($19.99).
The biggest drawback of FreeTaxUSA versus TurboTax is ease of use. TurboTax is very easy to use and navigate, while FreeTaxUSA is "close, but not quite the same". However, does that gap justify $40 to $100 or more in price difference? It's your call - but FreeTaxUSA is a competitive option to use instead of TurboTax.
TurboTax vs. Cash App Taxes
Cash App Taxes is a relatively new tax filing platform, and it’s one of the few options out there that is truly free for both federal and state tax returns.
For a free service, Cash App Taxes supports an impressive range of tax filing situations. Freelance filers can use Cash App Taxes to itemize deductions and upload multiple 1099-NEC forms from different clients. Investors can upload Form 8949 and use Schedule D to report their capital gains and losses. Those who have a Health Savings Account can report their deductible account contributions via Form 8889.
That said, there are less common tax situations that Cash App Taxes doesn’t support. For instance, it doesn’t allow for tax filing in multiple states, and it doesn’t let you report foreign earned income. If you’ve resided in multiple states during the previous tax year or you’ve earned income overseas, you might pay for TurboTax instead.
Which Alternative To TurboTax Is Right For You?
At the end of the day, no tax service is perfect for everyone. Each product has its pros and cons, and some offer features that are indispensable to certain types of filers and unnecessary for others.
The best tax software for you is whatever option fits in your budget and helps you file your taxes with minimal stress in the end! If you’re nervous about filing, I recommend working with a company that offers live support so you can ask questions as they pop up.
Should you go with TurboTax or somebody else? We hope this guide will help you decide.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared toward anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.