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TurboTax to H&R Block: A Review of the Best Tax Services of 2015

02/13/2015 11:33 am ET | Updated Apr 15, 2015

Best Tax Services of 2015

By Morgan Quinn, Feature Writer

The dreaded tax season is upon us. As of Jan. 20, the IRS has opened the doors for people to start filing their 2014 taxes. Tax time is arguably one of the most stressful times of the year, with nearly 150 million people collecting tax documents, organizing paperwork and trying make sense of over 70,000 pages of complex tax codes.

According to the IRS, it takes a U.S. tax filer an average of 13 hours to plan, prepare and file their federal taxes. I don't know about you, but I can think of some better ways to spend 13 hours instead of doing taxes -- like individually plucking out my eyelashes or picking up shards of glass in a recycling yard.

Luckily, we don't really need to understand every line of tax code or know every deduction allowed under tax law to get our taxes done right and in a timely manner. There are several top tax preparation software companies with innovative products that can drastically reduce the amount of time and energy spent on filing your taxes in 2015.

And while tax preparation software makes filing faster and easier, there were several changes to popular tax prep services this year, leaving many filers confused about which product is right for them. Since you're already spending hours on your taxes, you certainly don't need to spend even more time analyzing all the products available, various pricing structures and popular features offered. We've investigated the top four tax prep software on the market to make your decision quick and painless.

TurboTax Review


Overview: TurboTax is not the cheapest tax preparation software on the market, but fans love the intuitive nature of the program, as well as the abundance of features that make filing quick and easy. The company also guarantees accuracy and identifies audit risks, but what makes this software really stand out are the free resources and educational tools -- and if you need direct help, you can talk to a real, live person on the phone.

This year there was a change to the pricing structure and some users needed to purchase more expensive versions of TurboTax to file schedules C, D, E or F. But, if you used TurboTax in the past and were negatively affected by this year's price change, you might be qualified to receive a $25 refund from the company. TurboTax also briefly suspended its state filing service -- which it was offering for free for the first time with its Federal Free Edition package -- due to security concerns.

TurboTax Price


Online Versions

Federal Free Edition: $0

  • Allows for free federal and state tax filing with 1040EZ/1040 A forms.
Deluxe: $34.99, additional $36.99 per state
  • Ability to transfer last year's return and access tools necessary to maximize deductions (mortgage/property tax, itemized deductions, donation deductibles, etc.)
Premier: $54.99, additional $36.99 per state
  • Ideal for filers with investments and rental property (DEF)
Home and Business: $79.99, additional $36.99 per state
  • Ideal for small business owners and sole proprietors (C)
Downloadable Software Versions

Basic: $19.99, additional $39.99 per state and $19.99 e-file for that state

  • Offers 1040EZ and 1040A forms and allows for free federal filing.
Deluxe: $59.99, one free state, $39.99 for each additional state, $19.99 to e-file the state return
  • Filers can transfer last years' return and access tools necessary to maximize deductions (mortgage/property tax, itemized deductions, donation deductibles, etc.)
Premier: $89.99, one free state, additional $39.99 per state, $19.99 to e-file state return
  • Ideal for filers with investments and rental property (DEF).
Home and Business: $99.99, one free state, additional $39.99 per state, $19.99 to e-file state return
  • Ideal for small business owners and sole proprietors (C)

H&R Block Review

Overview: H&R Block is a rival to TurboTax and claims to have the cheapest tax filing option, though that particular package is catered to filers who fit certain criteria, homeowners or people who file a 1040 form with Schedule A. The software isn't as intuitive as TurboTax's, but filers using H&R Block can also get access to in-store support.

H&R Block also guarantees accuracy, identifies audit risks and provides in-person audit support, which some other tax software companies don't offer. H&R Block is a great option for filers with complex taxes or who need additional in-person support.

H&R Block Price

Online Versions

Federal: Free federal, $9.99 per state filed

  • Best for first-time tax filers
Basic: $19.99 federal, $36.99 for each state
  • Best for simple tax situations
Deluxe: $29.99 federal, $36.99 for each state
  • Best for homeowners or investors
Premium: $49.99 federal, $36.99 for each state
  • Best for filers who are self-employed or own rental property

Downloadable Software Versions

Basic: $19.95, $39.95 state, $19.95 state e-file

  • Best for simple tax situations
Deluxe: $44.95, $39.95 state, $19.95 state e-file
  • Best for homeowners or investors
Premium (C and E): $64.95, one free state, $19.95 state e-file
  • Best for filers who are self-employed or own rental property
Premium and Business: $79.95, one free state, $19.95 state e-file
  • Best for small business owners

TaxACT Review

Overview: TaxACT is the cheapest tax filing software on the market and the pricing is very simple. The company guarantees accuracy, but does not offer in-person audit support. Still, this is a very affordable option for filers who have very basic taxes and don't need a lot of additional features or assistance.

TaxACT Price

Online and Downloadable Software Versions

Federal: Free, $14.99 per state

  • Filers get access to federal filing tools and schedules C, D, E and F.
Deluxe: $12.99, bundle state for $7 online or $9 using downloadable software
  • Filers can transfer from last year's tax return, import data, get free phone support and access to extra features.

TaxSlayer Review

Overview: TaxSlayer is another affordable, but basic tax preparation software program. Users can choose to use the software guided or unguided -- the unguided version bypasses quizzes that test your tax filing abilities. The deduction tools aren't as strong as the other companies on our list; some basic deductions like donations to qualifying charities and rental properties aren't identified.

Customers also don't have access to a live chat or users forum to get live help, but if you purchase the premium service your questions do move to the top of the queue and get answered faster. TaxSlayer is best for filers who don't want to spend a lot, don't need a lot of features and are comfortable filing their taxes without much guidance.

TaxSlayer Price

Online Versions Only

Basic: Free, $23.90 state

  • Filers get access to Schedules C, D, E and F.
Classic: $12.95, $14.95 state
  • Filers can import last year's taxes.
Premium: $34.95, $14.95 state
  • Filers get access to additional customer assistance.
Photo credit: Mike Mozart

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