Monday, December 15, 2014

Reviewing The Best Tax Software For Early Filers

 for The CollegeInvestor writes: Early tax filers are chomping at the bit to start getting their tax returns. Why? Because if you're getting a refund, why wait any longer than you must to file your return. Seriously - don't let the government hold onto your money any longer than they already have.
But the trouble is two-fold. One, we don't know when you can file your return yet - heck, some of the laws aren't even finalized yet. That means that the tax software companies like TurboTax and H&R Block can't even finish their programs. Two, there are a lot of choices out there when it comes to filing your taxes.
Today I wanted to look at what is available for early filers - those that want to start right now and be ready to submit on January 1 if they could. Who's software is the best? Who's is the cheapest? What's happened in the past that could make a difference this year? Let's break it down.​

Comparing The Best Tax Software

When it comes to filing your taxes online, there are three major competitors: TurboTax, H&R Block, and TaxACT. However, there are many more "small guys" out there. I'm going to try to review as many as possible, but for early filers, it's typically best to stick to one of the big three.​
To compare the software for early filers, I looked at the following:
  • Ease of Use
  • What information you could input today in December
  • Does it require you to sign up to try
  • Does it offer tax calculators where you can just "run the numbers"
  • Any technical issues I encountered while using the site
  • Early Pricing
Ease of Use
How Much Works?
Most of the income section worked and it started asking questions about deductions, but not for all categories.
All of the income sections worked, but most of the "Adjustments, Deductions, and Credits" sections were still disabled.
Every section worked and allowed input.
Do You Need To Sign Up To Try?
Can You Run The Numbers?
Yes, but not easy to find.
Yes, but not easy to find.
Yes, easy calculators.
Any Technical Issues?
Site continually froze and I eventually gave up trying to use it.
Federal Free: $0
Deluxe: $29.99
Premier: $49.99
Home & Business: $74.99​
Federal Free: $0
Basic: $19.99
Deluxe: $29.99
Premium: $49.99​
Federal Free: $0
Deluxe: $12.99
​Ultimate: $17.99

My Choice For Early Filers

If you're an early filer, the software that worked the best was TaxACT. ​Here's why:
I found TaxACT the easiest to use out of all three companies. They had the easiest questions, and gave a lot more information about which option to choose - while not being overwhelming. I also liked how you could enter all of your information, even if certain forms haven't been created yet due to Congress. It does worry me a bit that the numbers are misleading as a result, but I appreciate the ability to enter everything once and be done.
Next, you save on the cost. My goodness you save on the cost. While it's still early in the tax season and all of the companies have the ability to change their prices until April 15, TaxACT is clearly the cheapest alternative. We're going to be comparing all the tax filing options next week, but this early glimpse leads me to TaxACT.​


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