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Alright, so it’s that time of year again when I take a look at the best tax software programs that money can buy.
In this article I give you my criteria for rating various tax software programs as well as an individual review of each major tax software.
How Do I Determine the Best Tax Software?
First of all, I actually do two tax returns in each tax software.
What, two tax returns, why would you want to do two tax returns, you sick, sick CPA?
Well, I prepare in each software one “basic” tax return with average income and one “complex” tax return with high income.
Why do I do this?
Because a given tax software might be great and cost-effective for those with “basic” tax returns, but it may not be the best fit for those with a more “complex” tax situation, and I want to make sure that I’m giving you the best information for your tax scenario.
My Tax Return Software Criteria
And as both a CPA and a personal finance blogger, I use the following five criteria when reviewing a tax software:
I define capability as the degree of tax complexity that a tax software can handle.
All tax software can handle a taxpayer with just a W-2, but what if a taxpayer has itemized deductions or rental property or a small business?
Can the tax software handle situations like this?
Obviously for consumers like you, price is a very important factor.
Every tax software I look at has slightly different pricing models, but at the end of the day, they all have some kind of tiered pricing based on how complex your return is.
I also look at if the tax software has a free version and if so what kind of taxpayers would qualify.
Finally, I consider how much a state tax filing would cost in addition to the federal return.
3. Ease of Use
No matter how capable or inexpensive a tax software is, no one wants to use it if it is difficult to navigate.
So for each tax software, I evaluate the user interface, whether the questions asked by the tax software are easy to understand, whether you can import certain information automatically rather than having to manually input everything.
As tax software prices increase, more and more taxpayers are expecting a premium service.
So I also look at how much support a given tax software offers its users: is there live chat support? somewhere to submit a question? a phone number to call?
I also look at whether or not the tax software offers audit protection and maximum refund guarantee to users.
Of course, as a CPA, accuracy is the most important factor to me when assessing tax software.
I don’t want anyone using a tax software that isn’t producing the right answer because that could invite a nasty little letter from the IRS, and I don’t want that for you.
|Capability||Price||Ease of Use||Support||Accuracy|
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