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Best tax software of 2022: File fast and accurately, plus get your maximum refund

The best tax filing software programs allow you to file your state and federal tax returns fast and accurately, while maximizing your refund. Here are the top five.

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Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We earn a commission from affiliate partners on many offers, but not all offers on Select are from affiliate partners.

Doing your taxes isn’t a fun task, but you can make the process faster by filing your tax return using a tax software program. Services like TurboTax and H&R Block walk users through the process so you can maximize deductions and increase your refund. Many of the best services offer both free and paid plans that allow you to select the option that best suits your needs — whether this is the first time you've needed to file or you've been paying taxes for years.

Select reviewed 12 tax filing software programs, evaluating them on a range of features, including cost, user experience, expert tax assistance and Better Business Bureau rating. (Read more about our methodology below.)

Here are the best tax filing software programs.

Best tax filing software

Best overall tax software

TurboTax

On TurboTax's secure site
  • Cost

    Costs may vary depending on the plan selected - see breakdown by plan in the description below

  • Free version

    Yes (for simple returns** only)

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Live support

    Yes, costs extra

  • Better Business Bureau rating

    A+

Terms apply, see below for our methodology.

Pros

  • Step-by-step guidance with a Q&A format that is easy to follow
  • TurboTax Live provides on-demand advice and a final review from a tax expert
  • Live Full Service has a tax expert prepare, sign, and file your return
  • Accuracy and maximum refund guaranteed*
  • Audit support, which provides free assistance if you get an IRS or other tax notice

Cons

  • More costly than other software programs
  • Live expert assistance plans have additional costs

Cost breakdown by plan:

  • Free (for simple returns** only): $0 federal, $0 per state
  • Deluxe (helps you maximize credits and deductions): $39* federal, $39* per state
  • Premier (includes returns with investments and expenses): $69* federal, $39* per state
  • Self-employed (for personal and business income and expenses): $89* federal, $39* per state
  • Live Basic (includes help from tax experts): for a limited time, $0* federal, state included - simple tax returns only; must file by 3/31
  • Live Deluxe (includes help from tax experts): $119* federal, $49* per state
  • Live Premier (includes help from tax experts): $169* federal, $49* per state
  • Live self-employed (includes help from tax experts): $199* federal, $49* per state
  • Full Service Live Basic (includes help from tax experts): for a limited time, $0* federal, state included - simple tax returns only; must file by 2/15
  • Full Service Live Deluxe (includes help from tax experts): $249* federal, $49* per state
  • Full Service Live Premier (includes help from tax experts): $359* federal, $49* per state
  • Full Service Live self-employed (includes help from tax experts): $389* federal, $49* per state

*Click here for TurboTax offer details and disclosures

**A simple tax return is Form 1040 only.

Runner-up

H&R Block

On H&R Block's secure site
  • Cost

    Costs may vary depending on the plan selected - see breakdown by plan in the description below

  • Free version

    Yes (for simple returns only)

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Live support

    Yes, costs extra

  • Better Business Bureau rating

    A+

Terms apply, see below for our methodology.

Pros

  • Simple step-by-step guidance that's easy to follow
  • Unlimited on-demand chat or video support with Online Assist plans
  • Ability to speak to a tax expert who has an average of 10 years experience (costs extra)
  • Over 11,000 physical locations so you can meet with a tax expert in-person
  • Maximum refund guarantee, or H&R Block will refund the plan fees you paid
  • Audit support guarantee, which provides free assistance if you get an IRS or other tax notice
  • 100% accuracy, or H&R Block will reimburse you for any penalties or interest up to $10,000

Cons

  • Plans that include speaking with a live tax expert start at $69.99 for federal, plus additional state fee
  • One of the more costly software programs

Cost breakdown by plan:

20% off DIY online tax filing - offer ends April 18, 2022

  • Free (for simple returns): $0 federal, $0 per state
  • Deluxe (helps you maximize credits and deductions): $43.99 federal, $44.99 per state
  • Premium (includes returns with investments and expenses): $59.99 federal, $44.99 per state
  • Self-employed (for personal and business income and expenses): $91.99 federal, $44.99 per state
  • Online Assist Basic (includes help from tax experts): $69.99 federal, $0 per state
  • Online Assist Deluxe (includes help from tax experts): $109.99 federal, $44.99 per state
  • Online Assist Premium (includes help from tax experts): $159.99 federal, $44.99 per state
  • Online Assist Self-employed (includes help from tax experts): $194.99 federal, $44.99 per state

Best free tax software

Credit Karma Tax

On Credit Karma's secure site
  • Cost

    $0 federal and state

  • Free version

    Yes

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Tax expert support

    No

  • Better Business Bureau rating

    B

Terms apply, see below for our methodology.

Pros

  • Completely free to use
  • Get access to Credit Karma services like credit monitoring alerts and credit score updates
  • Audit defense, which gives you support from a representative if the IRS audits your tax return
  • Maximum refund guarantee, or Credit Karma will pay you the difference up to $100 ($25 minimum)
  • 100% accuracy, or Credit Karma will reimburse you for any penalties up to $1,000

Cons

  • Only available in 40 states and D.C.
  • You can't file with Credit Karma if you lived in a state for only part of the tax year, earned income in more than one state during the tax year or earned income in a state you didn't live in
  • No support from tax professionals

Best affordable tax software

TaxSlayer

On TaxSlayer's secure site
  • Cost

    Costs may vary depending on the plan selected - see breakdown by plan in the description below

  • Free version

    Yes

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Tax expert support

    Yes, costs extra

  • Better Business Bureau rating

    A+

Terms apply, see below for our methodology.

Pros

  • Cheaper plans, making this a more affordable choice if you don't have a simple return and need to upgrade
  • Low state filing fees
  • One-on-one support from real tax experts with Ask a Tax Pro (select plans only)
  • 100% accuracy, or TaxSlayer will reimburse you for any penalties or interest charges
  • Maximum refund guarantee, or TaxSlayer will refund the plan fees you paid
  • IRS inquiry and audit support guarantee with select plans

Cons

  • Experts are only available on Premium and Self-Employed plans

Cost breakdown by plan:

For a limited time, use code SLAYIT35 for 35% off your federal e-file.*

Simply Free (for simple returns): $0 federal, $0 per state

Classic (for any tax situation):

35% off Classic - Was: $17.95 Now: $11.67. Includes all forms + free phone & email support

Premium (includes priority phone and email support, live chat and help from a tax expert):

35% off Premium - Was: $37.95 Now: $24.67. Includes all forms + live chat support, Ask a Tax Pro, front-of-the-line assistance

Self-employed (for personal and business income and expenses):

35% off Self-Employed - Was: $47.95 Now: $31.17. Includes all forms + access to a tax pro with self-employed expertise

*Offer is valid on federal tax returns only, e-filed by April 18th, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. EST. Offer not applicable to state tax return or additional products. Promotion code must be entered at checkout. Offer may not be combined with any other promotions, discounts, or offers. Offer is non-transferable and is not applicable to previous purchases.

Best for accuracy guarantee

TaxAct

On TaxAct's secure site
  • Cost

    $0 to $160.96 federal, $39.95 to $54.95 per state (see breakdown by plan below)

  • Free version

    Yes

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Tax expert support

    Yes, costs extra

  • Better Business Bureau rating

    A+

Terms apply, see below for our methodology.

Pros

  • Up to $100,000 accuracy guarantee, which reimburses you for IRS/state penalty or interest if the TaxAct software causes a calculation error in your return
  • More affordable than other paid software
  • One-on-one support from real tax experts (costs extra)
  • Maximum refund and 100% accuracy guarantee, or TaxAct will refund the plan fees you paid and pay any difference in the refund or tax liability, plus cover any legal or audit costs up to $100,000

Cons

  • Free plan charges per state return
  • Xpert help plans cost at least $35 more for federal

Cost breakdown by plan:

  • Free (only covers simple returns): $0 federal, $39.95 per state
  • Deluxe (helps you maximize credits and deductions): $38.36 federal, $54.95 per state
  • Premier (includes returns with investments and expenses): $57.56 federal, $54.95 per state
  • Self-employed (for personal and business income and expenses): $75.96 federal, $54.95 per state
  • Xpert Help Free (includes help from tax experts): $70.00 federal, $39.95 per state
  • Xpert Help Deluxe (includes help from tax experts): $93.36 federal, $54.95 per state
  • Xpert Help Premier (includes help from tax experts): $127.56 federal, $54.95 per state
  • Xpert Help Self-employed (includes help from tax experts): $160.96 federal, $54.95 per state

FAQs

When are taxes due?

While taxes are traditionally due on April 15, because of a holiday in Washington, D.C. you have until April 18, 2022 to file your taxes. Taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts have until April 19, 2022 to file their taxes due to the Patriots' Day holiday in those states.

The IRS has not announced an automatic extension for 2022 as it did in 2020 and 2021. If you're requesting an extension you have until Monday, Oct. 17, 2022, to file.

What happens if I miss the tax deadline?

If you miss the April 18 deadline, you still need to file your taxes and should do so as soon as possible. You'll incur a penalty if you file late and owe taxes, which only gets pricier the longer you wait. You won't incur a penalty if you don't owe and instead have a tax refund coming.

How much does it cost to file taxes?

Many tax software programs have a free version, but you'll be charged a fee if you upgrade to a paid plan. The tax programs we reviewed either have no cost for the free plans, or charge as low as $11.05 for federal filing plus $4.95 per state. However, the costs can add up fast with the more complex deluxe, premium and self-employed plans — the most expensive is $170 for federal, plus $50 per state. If you want to add live tax support, the surcharge can be $35 to $100, plus state fees.

Don't miss: Free vs. paid tax services: When to plan on paying for an upgrade

Simple tax return vs. complex tax return

A simple tax return is the most basic type of tax return you can file, and many tax software programs let you file this return for free. A simple return generally includes W-2 income, limited interest and dividend income, standard deductions and unemployment income.

Some free plans also include the earned income tax credit (TurboTax, H&R Block, Credit Karma and TaxAct), child tax credits (TurboTax, H&R Block, Credit Karma and TaxAct) and student loan/education deductions (H&R Block, Credit Karma, TaxAct and TaxSlayer).

If your finances are more complicated and you don't qualify for a simple tax return, you'll need to file a complex tax return, and most tax software programs will charge you fees to file. Complex tax situations typically include anyone with freelance income (1099 tax forms), small business owners and landlords, as well as anyone with earnings from investments and stock sales.

The tax program you use will notify you if you can't file a free simple tax return and instead need to upgrade and pay to file a more complex return. And even if you can file a simple tax return, you may want to pay for the next-tier plan to benefit from more deductions.

Our methodology

To determine which tax software offers the best way to file your taxes online, Select analyzed 12 programs. We compared each program on a range of features, including:

  • Cost
  • User experience
  • Expert tax assistance
  • Accuracy and maximum refund guarantee
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating
  • Customer reviews, when available

Cost was one of the most important factors. While many of these services offer free versions, many people have complicated finances that require them to pay to file their taxes. We evaluated the price per plan and weighed the features you receive, like the ability to maximize deductions and credits. The more bang for your buck, the higher a service ranked.

Whether you're new to filing taxes or a seasoned pro, user experience is crucial to filling out and submitting your return quickly and with little frustration. The services we chose had to be relatively user friendly.

The ability to speak with a tax expert or support representative was a big plus. Four out of five of the best tax software offered some form of support.

And if a service supported consumers with a generous accuracy and maximum refund guarantee, it was ranked higher.

We also considered the Better Business Bureau rating associated with the software. BBB ratings help determine whether a business is operating responsibly and if it helps to resolve customer complaints in a timely manner. Customer reviews were also taken into consideration.

After reviewing the above features, we sorted our recommendations by best for overall tax filing, runner-up, free tax software, most affordable and best accuracy guarantee.

The federal and state filing fees for the software programs mentioned above are subject to change without notice. Many programs don't charge you until you file, so there's a chance the fees can change from the time you start your return until you submit it.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.