I remember that after my first full year out of college, I was eager to file my taxes anticipating a chunky return. The first obstacle in the path to my return was figuring out what program to use. To help out my fellow young professionals, I have laid some out different options for filing online (and offline too, but who uses paper these days). Each program below has an e-file component and a download option if you would like to backup your tax info on a personal computer and/or paper file.
The costs and benefits for each provider are totaled on an estimated need to e-file 1 Federal return and e-file 1 State return (regardless of filing status).
1. Tax Act
- Basic edition (Total cost: $13.95)
- Deluxe or Ultimate edition (Total cost $16.95)
- Deduction Examiner
- Walk-through videos
- Accurately track & value donated items (deluxe and ultimate only)
- Complete the FAFSA with ease (for those who need it)
- Alerts for Errors and Omissions, Warnings, and Tax Saving Ideas
- Pay when you file
- Basic edition (Total Cost: $13.95)
- Deluxe edition (Total Cost $26.90)
- Ultimate edition ( Total Cost $19.95). I’m not sure why the Deluxe edition is more expensive than the Ultimate considering the Ultimate edition offers exactly the same features as the Deluxe plus 1 state.
2. Tax Slayer
- Classic version (Total cost $9.95)
- Premium version (Total cost $14.95)
- Business Forms (Schedule C & K-1)
- Investment Income
- Rental Property
- Itemized Deductions (Step by Step Deduction Finder with Premium version)
- Life Events Wizard (Premium only)
- Audit Assistance (Premium only)
- Priority Support and Message Center (Premium only)
- Download of program: $19.95
- Cost per return: $9.95 up to 5 returns. Site does not specify if this is federal only or federal plus state. (Total cost for our purposes $29.90)
3. Turbo Tax
- Free Edition (Total cost $29.95)
- Deluxe Edition (Total cost $64.90)
- Premier Edition (Total cost $84.90)
- Live Audit Support
- Audit Risk Meter (Deluxe or higher)
- Deduction Maximizer (Deluxe or higher)
- Guidance for Investments (Premier only)
- Rental Property Deduction Finder (Premier only)
Download or Physical Software
Pricing: Instead of purchasing the software on Turbo Tax’s website, I would suggest buying TurboTax Deluxe 2008 at a discount on Amazon and getting free shipping.
- Free Federal (Total Cost $29.95)
- Basic Federal (Total Cost $49.90)
- Premium Federal + State (Total Cost $69.90)
- 5 Federal e-files
- Worry-free Audit Support
- Ask a Tax-Advisor – 1 free session (phone or e-mail)
- Deduction Pro
- WILLPower (for estate planning needs)
Download or Physical Software
Pricing: Instead of purchasing the software on H&R Block’s website, I would suggest buying H&R Block TaxCut 2008 Premiumat a discount on Amazon and getting free shipping.
I found that the main differentiator of the more expensive programs was the ability to get support from a live individual. If that is something important to you, than your decision is made. Otherwise the less expensive options are more of step-by-step walkthrough of the paper forms, with instructions.
I have used both the IRS website and the Ernst & Young Tax Guide
to answer my questions while filing my taxes. If you have any questions about the costs/features outlined above or other tax inquiries feel free to e-mail me: email@example.com.
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