The new year is here, and you know what that means. It’s time to figure out which tax software you’ll try this year.
Since TurboTax has been around since the mid-80s, it’s definitely one of the most well-known companies out there today.
Yet, so many people hate using TurboTax that there are numerous articles covering the topic as if it were news. Plus, TurboTax recently announced it left the IRS Free File program, causing even more grumbling.
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 half way 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 the TurboTax alternatives.
This guide will introduce you to the basic TurboTax features and how this software stacks up to some of its competitors - and see the full list of the best tax software here >>
Comparing TurboTax To 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 Social Security Income.
Robust free tier with W2, Social Security, Unemployment, and more.
Free tier only include W2 income, Unemployment Income, Social Security, and educational credits.
Only free Federal filing this year, and limited to W2, Social Security, and unemployment income.
100% Free Fed
100% Free Fed and State
$0 - $199
$0 - $84.99
$0 - $47.95
$0 - $64.95
$0 - $22.98
Breaking Down TurboTax Software
TurboTax offers an abbreviated free version that works well for consumers who don’t itemize their taxes or plan to take any specialized deductions or credits. Make sure you understand the limits of free tax software here.
For everyone else, they offer three paid versions of their online product — Deluxe, Premier, and Self-Employed.
These products range from $59 to $119 and aim to help consumers save money through deductions and charitable contributions. Plus, if you have a state return, you can $49 per state additional.
The Self-Employed package 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 ideas 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. With TurboTax, they place their tax expert help as an additional cost for every level, starting at $79 or more depending on the level.
This year, they also offer full service tax preparation, which starts at $199 for Federal and $44 for each state.
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 W2, Social Security, Unemployment Income and a variety of other credits and deductions.
Paid versions of H&R Block flow similarly to those of TurboTax.
H&R Block offers a:
- Free basic version
- $55 deluxe version
- $75 premier version, and
- $115 self-employed version
Plus, you can expect to pay $49 per state.
The Self-Employed version has superior benefits which ease the tax stress for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
We love the fact that both offer live customer support you can access online, but we like the fact that H&R Block still has physical offices for people who want some hand-holding while they work through their unique tax situation.
Bottom line: Both H&R Block and TurboTax offer similar pricing and 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.
The software is significantly less expensive — even for their top tier online product.
We also love how TaxAct offers a 100k Accuracy Guarantee. This means they will cover the difference in the case of a higher tax liability, and they will pay all legal and auditing costs required if you are up for an audit.
However, TaxAct pricing has significantly increased in recent years. It used to be a low priced leader, and now it's on-par, or sometimes more expensive, than TurboTax. You can expect:
- Free basic version
- $46.95 deluxe version
- $69.95 premier version, and
- $94.95 self-employed version
TaxAct also charges $54.95 per state. When you combine the Federal and State pricing, you're equal to or more than the competition.
TaxAct does offer one-on-one customer support, but it is not known for wowing consumers with a lot of hand-holding. Plus, their free tier is one of the most limited of all free file tax software options this year.
For this reason, you may want to go with TurboTax if you anticipate needing a lot of help.
TurboTax vs. TaxSlayer
TaxSlayer offers several tiers of software aimed at consumers with different tax situations.
Their Classic and Premium versions are geared to filers who may have slightly more complicated tax issues than the average person who files only a 1040.
Their self-employed software 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
- $34.95 classic version
- $54.95 premium version
- $64.95 self-employed version
You can also 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 their Classic price point, so for filers that 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. They offer free federal filing and a flat $14.99 per state.
They also offer a Deluxe version for $7.99 which includes audit support.
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 the newest tax software option, but it's also the only option that is truly free for both Federal and State tax returns.
Cash App Taxes is the lowest priced option in the online tax software game, but the options are limited. Cash App Taxes doesn't allow for tax filing in multiple states, and doesn't support any foreign earned income. There may be other tax situations that it doesn't support as well.
Compared to TurboTax, Cash App Taxes also doesn't support any bank or brokerage imports. If you trade stocks or crypto and have a lot of transactions, Cash App won't be a great choice - you're probably better off paying for a service like TurboTax.
Which Alternative To TurboTax Is Right For You?
At the end of the day, no tax software is perfect for everyone.
Each product has its pros and cons and some offer features that provide more support to consumers in different tax situations.
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!
Bonus points for companies that offer 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 towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.
Editor: Clint Proctor