The best tax software services in 2023 are how you can file your federal and state returns for the tax year 2022. But which tax software should you use? To find out, we tested six of the most popular tax-preparation software by inputting returns and walking through the various steps to filing our taxes.
Along the way, we spent hours evaluating each service’s features, how well it explained things, and the level(s) of live support it offered. We also looked at whether or not the service supports cryptocurrency, and, if all else failed, whether you could get a pro to do your taxes for you.
What are the best tax software services?
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Our top pick for the best tax software for tax year 2022 is Intuit TurboTax Deluxe 2022. TurboTax distinguishes itself through its mix of guided experience, improved data imports, strong tax education resources, and deep range of tax expert assistance. This year, TurboTax dramatically increased the number of investment and cryptocurrency transactions it could handle, and it doubled the number of crypto exchanges you can directly import your transactions from. We still wish the interface was more unified in its presentation, but the strength of this years’ additions–coupled with its stellar support and tax expert assistance options– help set TurboTax apart. TurboTax is more expensive than the competition, but it also offers a unified digital experience that other services lack.
A close runner-up is H&R Block Deluxe 2023. The interface for H&R Block’s do-it-yourself tax services is cohesive and visually attractive, and it provides a concise, unintimidating walk-through of your tax return. H&R Block has expert help options, but little support if you don’t sign up for those services. It is the only service other than TurboTax to integrate with partners to easily import investment data, including crypto transactions.
TaxAct Deluxe strikes a balance between value and functionality. TaxAct also offers live tax pro help, albeit during a more constrained time window than its competition. We found TaxAct Deluxe an attractive alternative for users who know what forms they need, and want a little less guidance and handholding through the process. The service also supports the widest breadth of tax situations targeting multiple business types and estates and trusts, none of which can be handled by competing online products.
The best tax software in 2023
Intuit TurboTax Deluxe 2022 stays atop the heap and earns its best tax software crown thanks to its excellent support — including tax pro assistance — and its wide breadth of tax imports, both in terms of documents and institutions. Now in its 39th year, the 2023 TurboTax family (which covers the 2022 tax year) has improved its tax expert assistance options over the already-smooth experience last year. And if you’re trading in investments and cryptocurrency, the Premier tier provides the best intake process of any of the competitors, with the widest range of partner financial institutions and direct connections to over 30 crypto exchanges.
The service’s user interface provides guided detailed questions in plain English, and minimizes your exposure to actual tax forms. The service has a Spanish language version, a first for any of the tax services, and bilingual support. TurboTax Live’s expert assistance remains a well-integrated experience. For 2023, TurboTax improves the workflow of using its fully virtual Live Full Service, through which you can have a tax pro complete and file your taxes for you. However, all this comes at a cost: TurboTax is more expensive than all of the other services we tested. If your tax needs are uncomplicated, though, TurboTax has a phenomenal free limited-time deal for those who qualify for Basic Live Assisted.
Read our full TurboTax Deluxe 2022 review.
Of all the tax software we tested, H&R Block Deluxe 2023’s interface remains the best of any of the players. It reflects thoughtful, efficient design and has natural, cogent explanations to break down tax lingo in an easily digestible way. The service makes it easy to consider multiple income streams, useful if you’re self-employed, have 1099-Ks or multiple W-2 forms, or are a crypto investor.
Overall, H&R Block offers the cleanest and most friendly user experience we’ve seen, but if you run into difficulties, the only way to get meaningful help is to upgrade to Online Assist. And it still lacks a seamless, all-virtual way of having a tax pro handle your taxes from start to finish.
Read our full H&R Block Deluxe 2023 review.
TaxAct Deluxe 2022 continues to offer the most comprehensive tax filing services we’ve seen, and remains a top contender for best tax software. The service has less hand-holding than TurboTax and H&R Block, and caters to those who know what forms they need to complete their taxes, with less guidance than competing packages.
The inclusion of live assistance is only free until 3/20 (pricing after that wasn’t posted at this writing). With Tax Xpert Assist, TaxAct Deluxe delivers tremendous value. We like how you can see the actual tax forms, but sometimes the different paths of navigating your form can get confusing.
This year the service handles cryptocurrency more clearly in the Premier tier’s investments workflow, but the service lacks direct import from crypto exchanges (as you find in TurboTax and H&R Block). That’s one of many reasons TaxAct remains behind industry behemoth TurboTax. Still, TaxAct delivers its services at reasonable prices for those who know what they’re doing.
Read our full TaxAct Deluxe 2022 review.
TaxSlayer Classic 2022 is the best tax software for those who want to retain the conveniences of more pricey packages while saving money. Apart from the entirely free Cash App Taxes and FreeTaxUSA, TaxSlayer remains the least expensive way to file a federal return across a wide variety of tax situations, including those who have investments and those who are self-employed.
Pricing and support structure are the big differentiators for TaxSlayer, with one version covering all tax structures and upgrades based on level of support. The service’s friendly interface and clear guidance also stand out. And it is the only service beyond FreeTaxUSA that allows you to do three years of back taxes online in addition to the current year. Sure, TaxSlayer Classic doesn’t provide as much hand-holding as you’ll get with pricier competitors such as H&R Block and TurboTax, but it gets the job done without sacrificing features like importing some W-2 documents by photo.
Read our full TaxSlayer Classic review.
FreeTaxUSA is blunt about its primary attribute: This tax filing service is free for federal e-file, even for more complicated taxes like those who are self-employed. FreeTaxUSA 2022 Edition has some add-on charges, including for state filing, but as far as a tax service goes, FreeTaxUSA offers far more than most competitors in its free version. Only CashApp Taxes (formerly CreditKarma Tax) might be an alternative to FreeTaxUSA, and even then, FreeTaxUSA has the advantage of having some level of chat phone support, for a small fee.
The service’s aesthetic is as plain vanilla as it gets. Nothing fancy here. No onboarding questions, minimalist design, little help or guidance to explain taxes. Even the investment and crypto support is slim (you have to manually enter transaction information). But if you’re looking to save some money and don’t need a lot of hand-holding, FreeTaxUSA is one of the best tax software programs.
Read our full FreeTaxUSA review.
Cash App Taxes remains a contender for best tax software. However, Cash App Taxes falls short of both free and paid competitors, some of which charge nominal fees to get a greater breadth of support. Also, if you’re not a Cash App user, this service is less attractive since it requires a Cash App account.
Cash App Taxes is a reasonable free option for filing federal and state taxes. Its lack of finesse may not matter to you if you’re enticed by the word free. It can handle a surprising variety of tax situations, but when you run into tax questions, you’ll pay with your time to find answers. But it lacks strong support features of its paid competitors like H&R Block and TurboTax, and the live chat support of FreeTaxUSA.
Read our full Cash App Taxes review.
How we tested the best tax software
We identified the six strongest candidates for online tax filing services. We then proceeded to review each tier of service provided by these candidates, noting the pricing, which forms and tax situations covered and how easy the company made it to determine up front what product you should purchase.
Next, we selected the least expensive paid tier of service, typically referred to as “Deluxe,” to represent the service in this roundup (for the two free services, we positioned them against what we expected from a Deluxe tier of service). We went through the process of building a federal tax return on each service, setting up an account moving through each service’s interface on a Windows-based Web browser. We paid attention to all aspects of the tax filing experience, from the visual design to the language, the depth of written resources and data entry.
We also considered upgrade options offered by a service, whether to a different tier that supports more features, or a different level of tax expert help. And we noted how easy it was to move from one part of the return to another, and what the experience was like if we realized midway through we needed a higher-tier version of the program.
What to look for when selecting the best tax software
When choosing the best tax software for your needs, you’ll be weighing several factors: Price, the complexity of your return and how much assistance you want with filing your taxes.
Often, juggling price vs. the complexity of your return is a decision that goes hand-in-hand. Half of the services reviewed here — TurboTax, H&R Block and TaxAct — add features and tax forms as you move up to more expensive products. If you have a fairly simple return — say you only have one source of income and you don’t own any properties or have a side-hustle — any of these services will get the job done, but not all support the same mix of forms in the free product. Cash App Taxes and FreeTaxUSA handle even many of those more complex tax situations for free, as does TaxSlayer’s baseline paid product (for $18 more).
Your comfort level for completing your own taxes will be a factor in considering how much help you want on stand-by. For example, Cash App Taxes’ integrated help and in-service guidance is minimal, and its support is limited to e-mail. FreeTaxUSA has live chat support, but online help is also thin. TaxSlayer and TaxAct both have stronger online help, and both offer live tax expert assistance — and TaxAct is the first to include that expert assistance at all price tiers.
H&R Block Deluxe has robust in-app guidance and a lower price this year for its online assist and tax review add-ons. And our best tax software TurboTax has comprehensive online assistance and the widest range of live help options, crowned by its all-virtual Full Service tier where you can hand off your tax documents and have a tax pro to do the rest. TurboTax remains the most expensive of the bunch, but its guidance and automation is top notch.
Live assistance from a tax expert continues to be pervasive. Of the six services we tested, only the free Cash App Taxes lacks tax expert help — either standard (TaxAct) or as an upgrade (all the rest). Only TurboTax, with its TurboTax Live Full Service tier, offers a fully virtual end-to-end tax prep option, where a tax pro does your taxes for you. H&R Block continues its more hybrid approach to having a tax pro do your taxes virtually, marketing this option separately from its do-it-yourself online products.
Support for cryptocurrency has risen across the board. It’s now universal, albeit in varying degrees. Only two services — TurboTax and H&R Block — can import directly from crypto exchanges, but TurboTax leads the field by miles in overall crypto support and guidance. Also up: Attention to side-hustle businesses and selling stuff, even as a “hobby”, with 1099-K form guidance in place. Most services have price increases over last year (for next year: start earlier to save more on your service).