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The Best Tax Prep Software You Haven't Heard of And Need to Try

The best tax prep software isn’t limited to giant tax preparation organizations. Lesser-known providers also offer tax-filing solutions, often at significantly reduced prices over the big names. Tax prep software helps taxpayers easily organize, calculate, fill out, and file their taxes in a one-stop shopping format.

We’ve rounded up the best tax prep software companies that you may not have heard of to provide you with an opportunity to check out which one might be best for your tax situation and help you save money.

Deane Biermeier
DIY, Home Products and Finance Expert

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Our process aggregates a company or product's market share, reputation, service, values, consumer interest, pricing, fees and features to generate a fair rating and comprehensive review. Some of our Trusted Experts who write reviews have appeared in U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and many other publications.

Trusted Company Reviews #1 Pick for 2024

Top Tax Prep Software Company
  • Competitive pricing
  • Multiple filing options
  • Accuracy guarantee

Why we love it 💖

TaxSlayer online tax prep software offers an excellent alternative to big-name tax preparation companies and features a 100% accuracy guarantee.


Our Highest Rated Tax Prep Software Companies

8.6 Very Good

  • Competitive pricing
  • Military plan available
  • State filing costs extra in most levels
  • Free federal filing requires income below $100k plus other restrictions
  • self-employment tax support
  • Provides a 100% accuracy guarantee
8.4 Very Good

  • Maximum refund guarantee
  • Free federal filing for many taxpayers with few restrictions
  • Includes provisions for childcare costs, student loans, and deductions
  • State returns cost extra in most levels
  • Online refund tracking
  • Offers multiple online calculators
7.5 Good

  • Multiple filing options
  • Menu-style pricing
  • $79,000 cap on using the free filing version
  • The lowest price non-free version includes some tax help
  • Inexpensive professional tax support
  • Gig worker and self-employment support

What Is Tax Prep Software?

Tax prep software or online tax prep software guides taxpayers through their tax return forms and tax calculations to help them file their annual income tax returns. Taxpayers can use tax prep software for a simple tax return or for completing more complex business or self-employment taxes.

Sometimes called do-it-yourself tax software, online tax prep programs can help reduce the cost of filing annual taxes. Many of the best tax prep software programs provide free or inexpensive federal tax filing and free or reduced-cost state tax filing.

There are many benefits to using tax prep software to help prepare your annual income taxes. Tax software for individuals, joint filers, and small business owners can help generate an accurate tax return by spotting tax breaks, tax credits, and oversights to ensure you receive the most significant tax refund allowed.

About Online Tax Prep Software

Many tax prep providers offer online tax preparation software. Larger companies like Intuit TurboTax and H&R Block offer online and in-person tax preparation services. However, software for tax preparation providers operating solely online also exist and can offer some taxpayers a lower-cost tax-filing option.

Online tax prep providers can help you file your taxes by walking you step-by-step through the paperwork portion of the task following the legal IRS tax code and help you e-file your tax returns. These providers can often e-file simple federal tax returns for free or at low cost and do the same for single or multiple state tax returns. Many also offer online tax support through a chat function or email. However, the service usually carries an extra fee or requires an upgraded tax prep package.

Tax Prep Software Major Companies Vs. Minor Ones

Major companies that offer software for tax preparation include the big names with which you may already be familiar. H&R Block, Intuit TurboTax, and Jackson Hewitt are just a few. Our review focuses on lesser-known providers, including TaxSlayer, FreeTax USA, and TaxAct.

Less-known companies may lack some of the bells and whistles of the more prominent players. However, they all use the same IRS tax code and apply the same rules. Smaller companies tend to charge less for similar services as larger providers.

Who Can and Can’t Use the Best Tax Prep Software?

Almost any individual taxpayer, joint filer, or small business owner can use online tax prep software effectively. However, the more complex your tax return, the more it will likely cost to do so. Those filing simple tax returns can often fill out and file their taxes online for little or no cost.

Those adding IRS forms, such as 1099s or a Schedule C typically will incur a cost to use the software. Eligible taxpayers who itemize deductions or report interest or investment income, including selling a home, must also pay for most online tax prep services.

Other restrictions may also apply when using online tax prep software. Typically, the free versions only apply to taxpayers reporting less than a certain amount of adjusted gross income.

The Best Tax Prep Software Features

The best tax preparation software includes features and benefits that help taxpayers feel secure knowing that their taxes conform to current tax laws and that they receive the largest tax refund possible. Some standard tax prep software features include the following items.

  • Low-cost options for in-person tax preparation with a tax pro
  • Tax assistance with or without access to a tax professional
  • Chat function or other way to get real-time answers to general technical questions
  • Ability to securely e-file or print and mail federal and state tax returns
  • Easy navigation and helpful tips or suggestions
  • Direct deposit, debit card, or paper check refund options
  • Pairs with accounting software and some budgeting apps

Pros and Cons of the Best Tax Preparation Software

While online tax prep software can be an excellent solution for many taxpayers in various tax situations, even those with business or rental income, there are some factors to consider before choosing one or any provider option.


  • Direct importing of W-2 and 1099 tax forms or an easy way to input them manually
  • Recording and availability of past-year return information
  • Low-cost tax assistance with a chat function or live access to tax professional
  • Easier to use and navigate than paper forms
  • Potential ability to discover tax breaks or tax credits you may not be aware of
  • One-stop tax preparation and filing for federal tax returns and optional state tax returns
  • Audit assistance and protection tools


  • Requires a significant time investment over giving information to a tax pro
  • Tax assistance is sometimes limited to relatively generic information
  • Tax assistance is often delayed, depending on the company, software, and chosen option
  • Upselling is common and sometimes unwelcome

Is Tax Prep Software Worth it?

Purchasing tax-preparation programs, such as online tax prep software, is worth it for many taxpayers looking to save money on filing taxes while still feeling secure that the task gets done correctly and legally.

Tax prep software is normally cheaper than in-person tax prep. Potential access to a tax assistant or tax help and ensuring the proper tax forms are filled out and filed correctly is typically enough to warrant the cost of the product.

However, some investigation into the total cost versus hiring an accountant or tax professional is recommended for business owners or those who must file more complex tax returns.

What Tax Software Should I Use?

Choosing a tax software program depends primarily on how complex your tax return will be and the features you need to make the process go smoothly. While most online tax prep software allows free federal filing and low or no-cost state filing for those with simple tax returns and who meet an income threshold, those with more complex tax situations may have to shop around for the best fit.

To find a tax software solution for your situation, investigate tax prep software providers that offer all the forms you’ll need, the ability to import W-2s and 1099s, offer one or more ways to receive tax support, match your price point, and provide easy navigation and use. If you require a tax extension, many offer that option for free or at additional cost.

Search online reviews for customer experiences and expert analysis, as well as the homepages of tax prep sites, to help determine which one is right for you.


Trusted Company Reviews Rating Score TaxSlayer: 8.6

the best tax prep software taxslayer logo image

TaxSlayer Software Review

TaxSlayer software offers full-function tax preparation and filing for federal and state tax returns. The company offers a low-cost solution versus larger competitors like H&R Block or TurboTax. While it may not feature the fancy graphics and feel slightly less personal than the bigger name companies, its software is robust and just as capable.

For those with simpler tax returns that don’t include rental property income or for small-business self-employed persons, TaxSlayer offers an excellent option. All tax forms are available, and some tax filers may be eligible for free federal filing and one free state filing.

Pros and Cons


  • Free federal filing for military members
  • Robust self-employment tax support
  • Lower prices than most larger software providers
  • Provides an accuracy guarantee


  • Doesn’t support rental property income
  • The free version has many restrictions
  • Downloadable version unavailable


TaxSlayer offers a services menu for taxpayers to choose from, depending on their tax situation. The company’s five options include a free version for those with an income below $100,000 filing a simple return. An option that includes functions for slightly more complex returns and a similar choice that provides tax help also exists. The self-employed plan includes working with Forms 1099 and Schedule C, while the option for military personnel offers a free filing option plus an additional cost for state forms.

The company’s website lists the above options and offers comparisons to make choosing the right plan simple. The site also provides a refund calculator that estimates your refund, several tax tools, and resource links to the IRS. Customer support features and a mobile app are also available.

TaxSlayer Cost

TaxSlayer breaks down its pricing into five tax prep plans.

1. Simply Free $0 – File a federal 1040 or 1040a and one state return for free. This option is excellent for taxpayers with incomes under $100k. It includes a simple tax return with no additional forms, credits, or deductions.
2. Classic is $34.95 plus state filing cost. An online discount is available. It includes all forms, credits, and deductions.
3. Premium $54.95 plus state filing cost – An online discount is available – Featuring tax pro help and live chat.
4. Self-Employed $64.96 plus state filing cost – An online discount is available – 1099s schedule C, tax pro help, and a live chat are available, plus more.
5. Military $0  plus state filing cost – No restrictions

TaxSlayer Reviews: Features and Benefits

TaxSlayer’s features and benefits include many of the same ones found in more well-known tax prep software provider offerings.

  • Five filing software options
  • Tax help is available in some filing option plans
  • Military plan available
  • State filing costs extra in most levels
  • Free federal filing requires income below $100k plus other restrictions
  • Robust self-employment tax support
  • Provides a 100% accuracy guarantee
  • Download option unavailable; must be used online
  • Includes some provisions for interest and capital gains income
  • Most state return filings cost $39.95
  • Doesn’t provide support for rental property income

Why We Chose TaxSlayer Software

We chose TaxSlayer as our top pick among lesser-known online tax prep software providers for its robust support, bargain pricing options, and competitiveness against big-name companies. While the software isn’t quite as well personalized as more expensive options, it’s a solid choice for taxpayers with somewhat complex tax returns looking for a price break.

Is TaxSlayer Legit? is a legitimate tax preparation software provider that earns great review ratings from customers and experts alike.

TaxSlayer Tax Preparation Software

Federal Tax Filing Cost State Tax Filing Cost Accepted Tax Forms Limitations and Restrictions Tax Assistance Availability
$0 – $64.95 $0 – $39.95 All forms $100K income cap for Simply Free plan Yes- in Premium and Self-Employed Packages



Trusted Company Reviews Rating Score for TaxAct: 8.4

best tax prep software taxact logo image

TaxAct Review

TaxAct tax prep software offers another robust option for filing taxes with a lesser-known and less costly provider than big-name companies. The website offers multiple online tools, calculators, and helpful information regarding tax filing. TaxAct is one of the few smaller online tax preparation sites offering rental property income provisions.

TaxAct offers access to all necessary tax forms and free federal filing for those with an adjusted gross income below $79,000. State filing costs extra with all TaxAct plans. However, the free version has fewer restrictions than many providers.

Pros and Cons


  • Free version carries only a few restrictions
  • Less common tax situations are covered
  • $100,000 accuracy guarantee
  • Max refund gurarantee


  • No free state filing options
  • Expert assistance option is a little spendy

About TaxAct Online Tax Prep Software

TaxAct offers four primary tax filing levels, all of which are less expensive than those of many larger providers. The company also offers larger tax-filing packages for commercial taxes and other tax situations. TaxAct’s free filing version still charges at least $34.99 for state filing. However, qualifying for the free version is easier than with many online tax prep companies.

The company offers a 100% accuracy guarantee and a maximum refund guarantee, so taxpayers can rest assured that they’re getting the most out of their time and money investment. TaxAct’s website features numerous helpful tax, income, loan, and other financial calculators, along with helpful information and links.

TaxAct Prices

1. Free $0 plus state – Excellent for simple tax returns that may include student and child tax credits, unemployment status, and retirement income.
2. Deluxe $29.99 plus state – Great for including homeowner deductions, childcare expenses, HSA details, and more
3. Premier $ 39.99 plus state – Includes provisions for the sale of investments, including cryptocurrency and home sales. Rental property income is also acceptable.
4. Self-Employed $69.99 plus state – For self-employed persons, including freelancers, side gig operators, sole proprietors, and LLC owners
5. Commercial Tax Prep Packages $259.99 to $279.99
6. Other Tax Situations $124.99 to $234.99

TaxAct Reviews: Features and Benefits

TaxAct is another low-cost tax prep software option with excellent benefits rivaling larger providers for a fraction of the cost.

  • Offers four distinct pricing tiers
  • Free federal filing for many taxpayers with few restrictions
  • Includes provisions for childcare costs, student loans, and deductions
  • State returns cost extra in most levels
  • Commercial tax prep is also available
  • Professional tax assistance is available
  • Solid self-employment tax-filing support
  • Also provides plans for multiple other tax situations
  • Online refund tracking
  • $100,000 accuracy guarantee
  • Maximum refund guarantee
  • Offers multiple online calculators
  • Free filing only for those with less than $79,000 Adjusted Gross Income

Why We Chose TaxAct Software

TaxAct makes our list because of its relatively easy requirements to qualify for the free filing version and its excellent accuracy and refund guarantees. Of note is the fact that the company provides those benefits while charging less than most of its competition.

Is TaxAct Legit?

TaxAct is a highly-rated, fully functioning tax prep software provider that offers a robust, if plain, interface that guides taxpayers through each step with an interview-like tone. TaxAct is an excellent low-cost option for those with simple to slightly more complex tax returns. The company also features commercial and other tax solution offerings.

TaxAct Tax Preparation Software

Federal Tax Filing Cost State Tax Filing Cost Accepted Tax Forms Limitations and Restrictions Tax Assistance Availability
$0 – $69.99 $34.99 – $54.99 All forms $79,000 income cap for Free filing package Yes – $59.99 available with any filing plan

More Finance Company Reviews


Trusted Company Reviews Rating Score for FreeTax USA: 7.5

FreeTaxUSA Review

FreeTaxUSA is one of the best tax prep software providers that doesn’t carry a large brand name. Taxpayers can file their federal tax return for free with very few limitations besides the $79,000 gross adjusted income cap.

The company provides access to all major tax forms necessary to complete tax returns and offers low-cost state filing as well. Customers can choose to receive their returns by direct deposit, debit card, or paper check.

Pros and Cons


  • Menu pricing
  • Free extension filing
  • Low-price options
  • Great for self-employed or gig workers


  • Free state filing option isn’t available
  • Paying for the service with tax refund costs extra


As one of the best basic tax software providers available, FreeTaxUSA goes further than many of its competitors. While the software lacks many of the bells and whistles of larger-name providers, it contains all the expected essential functions plus several that aren’t as expected.

The company offers its services in a menu-style format—Meaning taxpayers can choose the services they wish to pay for and leave the rest behind. While there are no free state filing options, the $14.99 cost is still a good deal and lower than the prices of much of the competition.

FreeTaxUSA is a solid choice for taxpayers, almost regardless of their tax situation. Self-employed persons, small business owners, side gig workers, as well as W-2 employees are all likely to find the company’s product to their liking.

FreeTaxUSA Cost

FreeTaxUSA offers all its tax preparation software products in an upfront menu format to simplify pricing and make choosing the services you need fast and easy.

Federal tax return …………………………………..  $0
State tax return ………………………………………  $14.99
Deluxe Edition ……………………………………….  $7.99
Pro Support …………………………………………..  $39.99
Audit Defense ……………………………………….  $19.99
Amended Return ……………………………………  $15.98
Printed Return ……………………………………….  $7.97
Professionally Bound Tax Return ……………..  $15.99
Pay with Refund …………………………………….  $24.99
Pay with Credit Card ………………………………  $0
Federal Prior Year Tax Prep and Filing ………  $0
State Prior Year Tax Prep and Filing ………….  $17.99
Prior Year Amendments …………………………..  $17.97

FreeTaxUSA Reviews: Features and Benefits

FreeTaxUSA features a surprising collection of features and benefits despite its low cost.

  • Multiple filing options
  • Menu-style pricing
  • Retro-filing options
  • Printed and bound tax returns are available
  • $79,000 cap on using the free filing version
  • The lowest price, non-free version includes some tax help
  • Inexpensive professional tax support
  • Provisions for rental property income
  • Gig worker and self-employment support
  • Unemployment and retirement situations supported

Why We Chose FreeTaxUSA Software

We chose FreeTaxUSA for inclusion on our list of the best tax prep software among lesser-known brands primarily for its unique and upfront pricing strategy. While upselling is common among most tax prep sites—and FreeTaxUSA isn’t immune to it, the company does provide a solid guideline for choosing the services you need and skipping the ones you don’t

Is FreeTaxUSA Legit?

FreeTaxUSA is a legitimate online tax preparation software provider. The company provides a lower-cost alternative to bigger providers. While the site contains fewer benefits and lacks pizazz, it can be a good solution for those who just need to get their taxes done without spending too much.

TaxSlayer Tax Preparation Software

Federal Tax Filing Cost State Tax Filing Cost Accepted Tax Forms Limitations and Restrictions Tax Assistance Availability
$0 $14.99 All forms $73,000 income cap for Free filing  Yes – $7.99 for live chat or $$39.99 for tax pro access

Compare the Best Tax Prep Software Providers

Tax Prep Software Provider Federal Tax Filing Starting Cost Range State Tax Filing Starting Cost Range Professional Tax Help Available
TaxSlayer $0 – $64.95 $0 – $39.95 Yes- in Premium and Self-Employed Packages
TaxAct $0 – $69.99 $34.99 – $54.99 Yes $59.99 with any package
FreeTaxUSA $0 $14.99 Yes – $7.99 for live chat or $$39.99 for tax pro access
Intuit Turbo Tax $0 plus state filing – $219 $39 Included in Assisted and Full Service packages
H&R Block $0 – $85 $0 – $39.95 Included in top-tier packages

How We Chose the Best Tax Prep Software

Our review of the best tax prep software revolves around some lesser-known tax prep software providers. These providers offer alternatives to the big-name companies that often command more significant prices. While larger companies may offer more features that can benefit some taxpayers, many of us don’t require many extra features that can drive up the cost of tax preparation.

To determine the best tax prep software providers that you haven’t heard of, we evaluated six top contenders. We analyzed factors related to preparation cost, filing cost, ease-of-use and interview-style navigation, tax help availability, limitations and restrictions, audit help details, added features, and customer and expert review ratings.

After thoroughly investigating each competitor, we ranked them based on percentage scores for those metrics. We listed our top three picks in this review based on the results.

Income Tax Due Date 2024

The IRS federal income tax filing deadline in 2024 is April 15. File your federal income tax return or an extension on or before this day to avoid IRS penalties. The 41 states that collect income tax generally require taxpayers to file their state taxes on or before the same day as the IRS.

However, the following state exceptions regarding the tax deadline apply.

Delaware and Iowa state tax deadline – April 30, 2024
Louisiana state tax deadline – May 15, 2024
Virginia state tax deadline – May 1, 2024

States that don’t collect income taxes include Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the most common questions surrounding the best tax prep software

What is the best tax filing service?

According to customer and expert reviews, the best tax filing services include Intuit TurboTax, H&R Block, and Jackson Hewitt. However, these companies are large and well-known. Each typically commands premium pricing and offers premium services, which many taxpayers simply don’t need to pay for.

Is tax prep software deductible?

Tax prep software is generally not deductible for most individual taxpayers. However, there are exceptions, including for many who are self-employed or for some who itemize deductions. If you’re unsure about deductions, consult a tax professional for guidance.

What software do tax preparers use?

Professional tax preparers must use software programs licensed for the purpose. Pro versions of several well-known tax prep software providers are common, as are programs designed for use with bookkeeping and business software.

Which tax software gives the largest refund?

Your tax refund or refunds, if you could receive one from your state as well, are dependent on the tax code and independent of the software used to determine the refund amount. The best way to maximize any refund is to find the best price for tax preparation.

Can I file my taxes on two different websites?

Only one tax return filing is allowed per year. While taxpayers have their choice of filing method, only one federal and one state filing is possible.

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