Tax Software Makes It Easy

446px-Uncle_Sam_(pointing_finger)I use tax software to do my taxes each year because it makes it faster, easier, and more accurate than filling out the forms on my own.  I prefer the Turbotax Basic Edition, but it isn’t necessarily all that much better than its biggest competitor, H&R Block (formerly TaxCut).  I would recommend you use the same one each year for familiarity’s sake, but also because it can usually pull in your info from last year to make it even quicker the next time.  They are generally priced nearly exactly the same.

If you do use tax software, you can support this website at the same time by buying it through one of the links below.  From Turbotax I receive 15% plus $0.80 as a referral fee.  H&R Block provides a similar referral fee ranging from $6.80 to $10.  E-Smart Tax gives me a referral fee of 20%, or $1 for the free version.  Prices available through these links are displayed below:


Free Edition (Online only): Free Federal, State $27.99 each (Total $27.99)
Basic Edition (Online): Federal $19.99, State $36.99 each (Total $56.98)
Basic Edition (Downloaded): Federal $29.99, State $39.99 each (Total $69.98)
Deluxe Edition (Online): Federal $29.99, State $39.99 each (Total $69.98)
Deluxe Edition (Downloaded): Federal and State $59.99
Premier Edition (Online): Federal $49.99, State $36.99 (Total $86.98)
Premier Edition (Downloaded): Federal and State $89.99
Home & Business (Online): Federal $74.99, State $36.99 each (Total $111.98)
Home & Business (Downloaded): Federal and State $99.99


Be aware that if you have a Vanguard account you can get cheaper prices on Turbotax through that account on the more expensive versions.  Basic Edition is the same price there as through these links and the Free Edition is not available at Vanguard.


Free Edition (Online only): Free Federal, State $27.95 each (Total $27.95)
Basic Edition (Online): Federal $19.95, State $34.95 each (Total $54.90)
Basic Edition (Downloaded): Federal $19.95, State $34.99 each (Total $54.94)
Deluxe Edition (Online): Federal $29.95, State $34.95 each (Total $64.90)
Deluxe Edition (Downloaded): Federal $44.95, State $34.99 each (Total $79.94)
Premium Edition (Online): Federal $49.95, State $34.95 each (Total $84.90)
Premium Edition (Downloaded): Federal $64.95, State $34.99 each (Total $99.94)
Premium and Business Edition (Downloaded only): Federal $79.95, State $34.95 (Total $114.94)


Basic Edition: Free Federal
Deluxe Edition: Federal $19.95
Premium Edition: Federal $39.95


This is the former CompleteTax, which I assume Liberty Tax bought.  Their website does not make the state tax fee very clear, but I believe it ranges between $19.95 and $29.95.  The criticisms I’ve seen are that their interface isn’t as slick as TurboTax and H&R Block.



Free Edition: Free Federal, State $9.95
Classic Edition: Federal $9.95, State $9.95
Premium Edition: Federal $29.95, State $9.95


Tax Slayer is the new kid on the block.  The price is obviously very attractive ($20 vs $57 for the basic with one state).  They offer a little less support (and don’t pay me any commissions) but if you’d like to try them, I’d like to hear what you thought about them in the comments below.  Military members file for free with Tax Slayer.


Although it’s a pain in the butt to do your own taxes, it may save you a lot more than an accountant’s fee.  Doing your own will help you learn how to make tax-savvy decisions throughout the year.  Happy Tax Season!


Tax Software Makes It Easy — 21 Comments

  1. I use TaxAct. Only $10 for the deluxe federal version. A couple years ago I did my taxes with 4 of the different online companies and came out with the same result on each of them, so figured I’d go with the cheapest and have stuck with them since then.

    • H&R Block bought Taxact. As you can see in the price list above, Deluxe costs quite a bit more than $10. Are you sure you’re not thinking of TaxSlayer? They’re $10 and usually the cheapest option.

      Edit: My bad. H&R Block is Tax Cut, not TaxACT. TaxACT looks inexpensive like Taxslayer. They do have an affiliate program through Linkconnector, which I don’t belong to.

  2. Have any of you guys used TurboTax for tax situations where you get Schedule K-1s and pay quarterly estimated taxes? Also we have a nanny whom we pay over the table. If so, which version did you use and how did it go?

    • I’ll be a doing a K-1 this year for the first time. I usually start with the basic or deluxe and only plan to upgrade if I have to. Last year I think I used deluxe and had no issues with Schedules A, B, C, D, E, and SE.

          • I just remembered, when it figures your quarterly payments for the next year, it will print out the payment stubs for you with the dates it is due so all you have to do is write a check and put the stub and check in the envelope and send it. Slick.

  3. I’ve used Turbotax for about 8 years now and have had to enter K-1s every year. It is very simple. My tax situation has started to get a little more complicated in the last few years, so last year, I finally paid someone to do my taxes. The person I hired was from a local, highly regarded firm (expensive and NOT a fly-by-the-night person out of their basement). I wanted to see how it compared to doing it on Turbotax. As WCI mentioned, by doing it yourself, you get a better idea of how to save on taxes. Well, when the tax person finished with my taxes, my tax bill was about $2,000 higher than what I got with Turbotax. I asked him about the differences and mentioned how I had entered in a couple of the K-1s differently than he did and his response was “well, yes, I guess we could do it that way (passive vs active income on K-1).” For what I was paying him, I would have expected that he would have looked at the most tax efficient way to enter things, but it goes to show that no one cares more about your money than yourself. Also, when I first met with him, I mentioned that I had previously used Turbotax, but wanted to use him so he could advise me on how I could do things differently to help minimize my tax bill. I never received any advice from him on what changes I could make and in fact, I had to ask him to do things differently to save me money. Needless to say, I am back to Turbotax this year.

  4. Hey, thank you for this nice blog. I am a clinical fellow, and started moonlighting as a house doctor starting Jan 2012 during weekends. I was confused with how to do estimated tax. So I used a tax preparer referred by another doctor, who drives to my apt to do tax for me. He did my tax return for 2012, and helped me set up the estimated tax for moonlighting income in year 2013. He charged me 150 dollars. First question is : I wonder if I can do the same with any software. Which edition of what software is good enough for me? I am kind of confused about how to calculate federal and state estimated tax stuff. Second question is what can I deduct as business expense: I live in a apt, I am single, drives a car to work, have a cell phone, buy medical books, just renewed my state license (ouch) have some medical bills. Thanks

    • First, $150 is a very cheap price for tax help. Yes, you can do the same with software and some reading of a tax book, and I think you should. But you may still find $150 a great price for such a house call. I like Turbotax and have been using Deluxe the last couple of years. It’ll work fine for you. Second, I have an upcoming guest post on deductible business expenses, but given your list, your business deductions probably include the cell phone, the books, and the state license, assuming you’re self-employed in the moonlighting gig.

  5. I have W2s for me and my wife. No 401k but I have taxable investments as well as backdoor IRA conversion for 2012 and 2013 (through Vanguard). Does anyone know if HR Block or Turbotax will do accurately the IRAs conversions?

  6. I just used Tax Slayer – I’m military and got both federal and state for free. Like WCI stated, a little less guidance, though they do have video links with a “guide” that gives a basic explanation on what certain questions/boxes require. There is a step-by-step option or a “enter myself” option. I did the latter, having previous knowledge on which deductions and credits for which I qualify. Overall easy to use, fast, and cheap!

    • Also – with my military edition, the system imported my PDF from my previous year’s Turbo Tax return (just requires a pdf file uploaded). So I didn’t have to manually enter personal information even though this was my first time using Tax Slayer.

  7. Advantages of download/cd versions vs online? I’ve seen the deluxe cd for $50 in stores.

    Did you ever put up the post on deductible business expenses?

    • I don’t have a post up on deductible business expenses, but the IRS publication on the subject is pretty helpful.

      It can, however, be difficult to apply to doctors. I’ll try to put together a list of some common business deductions doctors use.

      One extra benefit of the desktop version (more expensive) is it is easier to look at the actual forms and use that feature to run alternative tax scenarios. I generally use the online version.

  8. Any tax software you recommend for tax PLANNING? All these tax software above doesn’t come out until next year. I’d like to have something to start/keep track of my taxes throughout the year. Recommendations? Thanks

  9. I have been reading this blog for a long time and I would just stress that if you have rental homes, international investments and/or complex trust estate issues that it may be beneficial to hire a competent CPA. Your CPA is not only there to help to look for opportunities but more importantly make sure you are doing things correctly to not put yourself at risk. There is nothing worse than finding out you have been forgetting something until it is to late.

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