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Tax Preparation Software Pricing Comparison



UPDATE: There have been some excellent comments in this post and I’ve updated some incorrect information in the charts. I’ve summarized some of the main points in comments #24 below.

Tax software pricing comparison
I have such a headache. I thought I would post a little summary comparison of the major (and a few minor) tax preparation programs both software and online. I figured I would end up comparing them anyway for my own personal use, so why not let others benefit. What I didn’t realize was that all the companies I reviewed, including the big ones (TurboTax and TaxCut) would have some strange incompetency to communicate features and benefits in a clear, concise manner. I spent hours trolling and searching deep through these sites looking for clarification on such basic things as pricing and major benefits. Even information such as which products include state tax preparation in addition to federal was hard to find. Well, I’m happy to say I’m done with my research and can now share the fruits.

“Out-the-door” pricing defined

In order to make an apples to apples comparison between offerings I used “out-the-door” (OTD) pricing. I define OTD pricing as the total price of an offering including both the costs of federal and state tax preparation as well as federal and state tax e-filing. It was surprisingly difficult to mine this data and almost seemed to be purposefully ambiguous on the provider websites. In most cases, the OTD price wasn’t listed by the provider so I had to manually add together the various costs scattered across the websites to sum up the OTD prices. See the charts below for more details.

I did not review the quality of the software. Not only would such a comparison be a monumental effort, but tax situations vary so much from person to person that my experience alone would not necessarily be an accurate representation. At least you can get the low-down on price and then choose the feature set that’s right for you from the lowest cost offerings.

Providers Reviewed

I was amazed at how many tax preparation providers there are. I chose to review the most prominent providers, TurboTax from Intuit and TaxCut from H&R Block, in addition to a smattering of smaller offerings. Here is the complete list:

The bottom line

If your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is under $50,000 you can prepare and file federal taxes for free

Let me get to the point for those who don’t have the patience to wade through the details. If your AGI is under $50,000, you can prepare and e-file federal taxes for free through the IRS “free file” program. In fact there’s a whole list of tax preparation providers that will provide this free service.

View a complete list of free tax preparation providers here.

If you qualify for free federal tax services, you’ll still need to pay to prepare and e-file state taxes. The best price for online state tax preparation and e-filing I came across was CompleteTax who offers this service for $12.95.

If your AGI is above $50,000
Lowest cost offerings
Services needed Major Providers Other Providers
Federal and State preparation and e-filing

TaxCut “Premium + State + E-file Online ($39.95 OTD) TaxActOnline.com “Deluxe + State” ($15.95 OTD)
Federal preparation and e-filing

TaxCut “Basic + E-file Online” ($9.95 OTD) TaxActOnline.com “Standard” ($0 OTD)
State preparation and e-filing

TurboTax State Online ($29.95 OTD) CompleteTax ($12.95 OTD)

If you want to use one of the “big two” providers (TurboTax or TaxCut), then the cheapest and most comprehensive way to go is TaxCut’s Premium + State + E-file Online” (that’s the actual name; awkward and non-sexy, but descriptive). At $39.95 out the door it covers everything from bare-bones tax returns to investments and real estate, to business ownership. Oddly enough it’s actually cheaper out the door than the TaxCut “Basic + E-file Online” at $50.85.

If you don’t care about using one of the big two providers, the TaxActOnline.com “Deluxe + State” offering is the cheapest out the door at $15.95. Considering that some of the offerings I looked at were as high as $134.80 (for TurboTax Premier Software) without any significant value add, that’s quite a dramatic spread. With the confusing way offerings are communicated, it would be easy for someone to pay over $100 too much.

Filing only federal taxes (no state taxes or preparing state taxes by hand)

If you only need to prepare and e-file federal taxes (maybe your state doesn’t have income tax) the best choice is TaxCut “Basic + E-file Online” for $9.95 OTD if you want to go with a major provider. If you’re ok with a smaller company it’s hard to beat TaxActOnline’s “Standard” account for $0 (including e-file). I’m not sure how they offer it for free but they seem to be a perfectly legitimate company and have been around since 2000 with an alexa rank of about 182,000 (and quickly improving).

The details

TurboTax Pricing

The big travesty with TurboTax is that the software version costs way more than the online version because e-file isn’t included in neither the federal nor state programs. And each e-file costs $14.95. The online versions include e-file in the price. Bottom line: Use the online version.

TurboTax Online offerings
Offering Base price Federal e-file price State e-file price Out-the-door price OTD calculation Feature differences
TurboTax Basic Online 14.95 $0 – Included Included with purchase of TurboTax State Online $44.90 14.95 + 29.95 (TurboTax State Online) Basic 1040 forms (not including investments or business forms)
TurboTax Deluxe Online $29.95 $0 – Included Included with purchase of TurboTax State Online $59.90 29.95 + 29.95 (TurboTax State Online) Above plus – Deduction maximizer, It’s Deductible bluebook for charitable donations, Summary of deductions a to z
TurboTax Premier Online $49.95 $0 – Included Included with purchase of TurboTax State Online $79.90 49.95 + 29.95 (TurboTax State Online) Above plus – Investment and rental property forms, BasisPro calculates historical cost basis
TurboTax Home & Business Online $74.95 $0 – Included Included with purchase of TurboTax State Online $104.90 74.95 + 29.95 (TurboTax State Online) Above plus – Schedule C forms for businesses, business deductions, calculates depreciation of business assets
TurboTax State Online $29.95 n/a $0 – Included n/a n/a  

TurboTax Software offerings
Offering Base price Federal e-file price State e-file price Out-the-door price OTD calculation Feature differences
TurboTax Basic 19.95 $14.95 $14.95 (and you must purchase TurboTax State) $79.80 19.95 + $14.95 (fed e-file) + 29.95 (TurboTax State) + $14.95 (State e-file) Basic 1040 forms (not including investments or business forms)
TurboTax Deluxe $44.95 $14.95 $14.95 $74.85 [UPDATED] 44.95 + $14.95 (fed e-file) + $14.95 (State e-file) [UPDATED] Above plus – Deduction maximizer, It’s Deductible bluebook for charitable donations, Summary of deductions a to z
TurboTax Premier $74.95 $14.95 $14.95 $104.85 [UPDATED] 74.95 + $14.95 (fed e-file) + $14.95 (State e-file) [UPDATED] Above plus – Investment and rental property forms, BasisPro calculates historical cost basis
TurboTax Home & Business $89.95 $14.95 $14.95 $119.85 [UPDATED] 89.95 + $14.95 (fed e-file) + $14.95 (State e-file) [UPDATED] Above plus – Schedule C forms for businesses, business deductions, calculates depreciation of business assets
TurboTax State $29.95 n/a $14.95 n/a n/a  
TaxCut Pricing

TaxCut provides the cheapest out-the-door offering of the “big two” companies Intuit and H&R Block. TaxCut “Premium + State + E-file Online” gets you all you need for only $39.95. The crazy thing with TaxCut is that the OTD price actually decreases as the offering tiers increase. Go figure.

TaxCut Online offerings
Offering Base price Federal e-file price State e-file price Out-the-door price OTD calculation Feature differences
TaxCut Basic + E-file Online 9.95 $0 – Included $15.95 with purchase of TaxCut State Software $50.85 9.95 + $24.95 (TaxCut State Software) + $15.95 (State e-file) No business, investment, or deduction tools or forms
TaxCut Premium + E-file Online 19.95 $0 – Included $15.95 with purchase of TaxCut State Software $60.85 19.95 + $24.95 (TaxCut State Software) + $15.95 (State e-file) Tools and forms for businesses (schedule C), investors, and maximizing deductions
TaxCut Premium + State + E-file Online 39.95 $0 – Included $0 – Included $39.95 n/a Same as above

TaxCut Software offerings
Offering Base price Federal e-file price State e-file price Out-the-door price OTD calculation Feature differences
TaxCut Premium Software 19.95 $15.95 $15.95 with purchase of TaxCut State Software $76.80 19.95 + $15.95 (fed e-file) + $24.95 (TaxCut State Software) + $15.95 (State e-file) There is no difference in features between software products
TaxCut Premium + State Software 29.95 $15.95 $15.95 with purchase of TaxCut State Software $61.85 29.95 + $15.95 (fed e-file) + $15.95 (State e-file) There is no difference in features between software products
TaxCut Premium + State + E-file Software 59.95 $0 – Included $0 – Included $59.95 n/a There is no difference in features between software products
TaxBrain Pricing

I didn’t find anything particularly compelling about TaxBrain. Their site was one of the worst in presenting basic offering information. But I did use their online chat twice and they were helpful enough.

Tax Brain
Offering Base price Federal e-file price State e-file price Out-the-door price OTD calculation Feature differences
TaxBrain 1040 EZ $19.95 $0 – Included $19.95-29.95 for state tax preparation and e-filing. $39.90-49.90 $19.95 + $19.95-29.95(State prep and e-file) The most basic return for single or married taxpayers to report general wages, unemployment and W2 income under $100,000.
TaxBrain 1040 A $29.95 $0 – Included $19.95-29.95 for state tax preparation and e-filing. $49.90-59.90 $29.95 + $19.95-29.95(State prep and e-file) Expanded from the EZ to include educator expenses, IRA deductions, student loan, tuition and fees deductions.
TaxBrain 1040 Basic $39.95 $0 – Included $19.95-29.95 for state tax preparation and e-filing. $59.90-69.90 $39.95 + $19.95-29.95(State prep and e-file) Includes the full 1040 long form, Form 4137 Unreported tips and Schedule A.
TaxBrain 1040 Expanded $49.95 $0 – Included $19.95-29.95 for state tax preparation and e-filing. $69.90-79.90 $49.95 + $19.95-29.95(State prep and e-file) Also Includes forms 2106, 4684, 4952, 5329, 6251, 8606, 8880, Home Sale Worksheet & Schedule D.
TaxBrain 1040 Premium $69.95 $0 – Included $19.95-29.95 for state tax preparation and e-filing. $89.90-99.90 $69.95 + $19.95-29.95(State prep and e-file) Also Includes forms 4136, 4562, 4797, 4835, 6198, 8582, 8829 & Schedules C, E, F and SE.
TaxBrain State Tax Preparation $19.95-29.95 n/a $19.95-29.95 for state tax preparation and e-filing. n/a n/a Includes State preparation and e-filing

*You don’t know the final price of state taxes until you actually prepare your them. You also don’t sign up for a particular account tier. As you answer the questions the program will figure out what tier you’re in.

CompleteTax Pricing

It turns out Complete Tax and the next provider EZ Tax Refunds are owned by the same company. I’m guessing it’s a market test to see how they can maximize revenue targeting different markets.

Complete Tax
Offering Base price Federal e-file price State e-file price Out-the-door price OTD calculation Feature differences
Federal Tax $25.95 $0 – Included $12.95 for state tax preparation and e-filing. $38.90 $25.95 + $12.95(State prep and e-file) Nice simple pricing structure regardless of the forms used
State Tax $12.95 n/a $12.95 for state tax preparation and e-filing. n/a n/a  
EZ Tax Refunds Pricing
EZ Tax Refunds
Offering Base price Federal e-file price State e-file price Out-the-door price OTD calculation Feature differences
Standard $9.95 $0 – Included No state-only option n/a n/a There’s no state only option so you would only use this account if you only needed to do your federal taxes.
Deluxe $19.95 $0 – Included $0 – Included $19.95 $19.95 All forms, all available states
Premier Bundle $89.95 $0 – Included $0 – Included $89.95 $89.95 All forms, all available states. Live phone and online chat support.
TaxActOnline Pricing
TaxActOnline
Offering Base price Federal e-file price State e-file price Out-the-door price OTD calculation Feature differences
Standard Free $0 – Included Doesn’t include state prep or filing n/a n/a There’s no state-only option so you would only use this account if you only needed to do your federal taxes.
Deluxe $9.95 $0 – Included Doesn’t include state prep or filing n/a n/a There’s no state-only option so you would only use this account if you only needed to do your federal taxes.
Deluxe + State $15.95 $0 – Included $0 – Included $15.95 $15.95 Includes all available federal and state forms and free e-filing.

Differentiating Features

Overall, TurboTax and TaxCut really do have some nice value-added features that may justify the higher cost depending on your situation. If you’re looking for audit support, TaxCut is supported by hundreds of establish brick and mortar H&R Block locations. TurboTax will provide a “local tax professional” in case of an audit, but who knows where they find the tax professionals. You could end up with crummy under-qualified representation. At least with H&R Block, there’s some quality control.

I was going to post a comparison of features across the providers but it was seriously too much. It seemed like on every point I had to dig and dig to find a decent answer, if I found one at all. In the end they all seemed about the same as far as basic tax-prep features. However, if you have special needs it’s worth spending a little more time to find just the right provider. Here’s a list of the types of features and variations to consider:

  • Audit Support (cost, who does it, extent of support and representation)
  • What guarantees do they make and what are the terms?
    • Guaranteed maximum deduction (what are the terms of the guarantee?)
    • Accuracy of calculations (almost all offer this)
    • “Biggest tax refund or your money back” (this was a TurboTax guarantee)
  • Deduction finder. If you are itemizing, you want to make sure this feature is offered. It’s implied that they all do. However, some made it more obvious than others.
  • Can you start a tax return without paying money? All of the providers will let you jump right in and start preparing your taxes without paying. Some make you register first and you inevitably have to provide your social security number at some point in the process. Most of the providers also show your refund as you go. If you wanted, you could prepare your taxes in a couple different programs and see which one provides a larger refund before deciding on a final provider.
  • Support. This varies widely. Some provide full support while others make you pay per conversation. With the lesser known companies, it was also hard to tell if the support was for the software or actual tax advice so be careful. If it’s not explicit, I would contact them and ask.
  • Import capabilities. TaxCut and TurboTax both seemed to have pretty wide import compatibility with financial software providers. TaxCut even lets to import a previous tax return from a brick and mortar H&R Block location. If you have special import needs, I would contact the provider to be safe.
  • Refund options. Most providers offer “quick refund” type loans which I don’t recommend. You’ll likely be charged a healthy fee for the loan in addition to interest (completetax.com charges $14.95 for this feature). It’s also pretty standard to be able to pay for the tax software directly from the refund so there are no out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Options to pay taxes owed. Some providers will let you pay taxes owed with a credit card. Beware of extra fees.

Confusion and Conclusion

Here were a few of the bewildering points I came across:

  • While several companies had little charts comparing their offerings, they were, without exception, incomplete. In every case I had to track down vital additional pieces of information. There’s no reason I could see why they couldn’t have included all the important info in one spot.
  • Midway through my research on TurboTax the prices of their account tiers changed on me. At least they went down instead of up. I did an online chat and was never able to figure out why they changed.
  • One of the most hidden pieces of information was how much e-file costs and if it’s included with various account types. I had to search FAQs and knowledge bases to find the answers. I actually had to chat with TurboTax and TaxBrain to finally find and confirm their pricing for e-file. I guess the upside is that both online chats were friendly and useful.
  • While researching CompletTax and EZTaxRefunds, I started to notice that much of their content looked the same. I did a little research and sure enough they’re both owned by the same company. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that, it just struck me as odd.

Overall, I was shocked at how confusing this process was. Taxes are already confusing enough. I don’t need the added confusion of piecing together the tax preparation offerings. Kudos to the smaller CompleteTax, EZTaxRefunds, and TaxActOnline for providing simple, straight forward offerings. The big players TurboTax and TaxCut should take note. In the long run I doubt they will benefit financially from confusing their customers into submission. If anything I anticipate there will be a lot of unhappy customers once they have to keep paying unexpected e-filing fees.

Do you know about any other tax software comparisons or reviews? Leave them in the comments.


Posted in Taxes | 72 Comments »

72 Comments to “Tax Preparation Software Pricing Comparison”

  1. Blog Mirrors » How much does that tax-prep software really cost? Says:

    [...] Tax Preparation Software Pricing Comparison [Getting Finances Done] [...]

  2. Home Biz Chat » Blog Archive » Getting Finances Done » Tax Preparation Software Pricing Comparison Says:

    [...] Getting Finances Done » Tax Preparation Software Pricing Comparison February 28th, 2007 by Jeff Christman Getting Finances Done » Tax Preparation Software Pricing Comparison [...]

  3. William Says:

    First off, great review. I’ve always wondered how some of these guys get away with using this bait and switch scheme. Adding fees for filing special forms and for efiling the return at all, when the box quotes a smaller price.
    I’ve used Taxslayer for my taxes for years and I’ve been pleased with them. They don’t have any hidden fees, just a flat $9.95 fee for efiling (including states). It would have been interesting to see how they compared with the ones you listed to see why some of these guys charge more. I guess people feel comfortable with the big names when it comes to taxes.

  4. sjpeer Says:

    Here’s another quirky thing. After I posted this and went back to double check the links were working properly I noticed that at turbotax.com there was no “Basic Online” account. Instead there was a Free account in its place. I clicked on the “Desktop Products” link to see if any of those offerings had change and they were all the same. When I clicked back to the online products the free account was gone and the Basic account was there.

    I guess the bottom line is that TurboTax offers a free account that includes federal tax prep and free federal e-file. If only you can find it. Leave a post if you know a sure-fire way to access the free account.

  5. Terry Says:

    Turbo Tax Software is priced like this:
    Turbo Tax Basic is 19.95
    Turbo Tax Deluxe is 39.95 with State is 44.95
    Turbo Tax Premiere is 69.95 with State is 74.95
    Turbo Tax Home and Business is 84.95 with state 89.95
    The software also requires a 14.95 for each Federal and State e-file.
    There is no need to purchase the State version separately since you can purchase is bundled with federal.

    I’m frustrated because I feel those who filed early were penalized by Turbo Tax. This is the software we used, and decided to fore go the online version because it was pricier at the time. Now it seems it is roughly $15 cheaper for those using e-file.

  6. Jeremy Says:

    Just for reference on Tax Act Online; the state return can be done along with the free federal return for $12.95. It is an option to go ahead and do it once you finish your federal return. I believe that makes it the cheapest option, and it works well for those without extremely complex situations.

    TurboTax is also offering a free federal return now; the state version will cost an addition $25.95 if you want them to do that one as well. However, the state one is often much simpler once the federal return is done, so it may be worth efiling one and doing the other longhand.

  7. Chris Head Says:

    My family has been using TaxAct onliine for the past 3 years and the standard “disc” version for 2 years before that. We have had absolutly no problems.

    I did check the other online services to confirm the refund was the same as TaxAct for the first few years (you can go through the whole process on TaxCut online and get the amount of the refund before you have to pay to file).

    The help and advice for the free version isn’t great but normally I would go to the IRS’ site and get that info if I needed it anyway.

    Great product for a great value.

  8. Bill Says:

    I just saw the free account for TurboTax. The one big gotcha is that it’s only for 1040EZ. If you aren’t taking the standard deduction, you can’t use it…

    –Bill

  9. Brian Says:

    Yeah, but who pays full price for tax software at a store? I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it not on sale. The Turbo Tax Deluxe I bought with a coupon from Costco included the state (free download), so I think your numbers are probably a little off for that one.

  10. allison Says:

    I went through all the websites on the IRS’s file list for the most cost efficient. Here is what I came up with:

    http://www.olt.com/ – $7.95 state filing (I couldn’t find Federal if you don’t qualify for free filing)

    http://www.average1040.com/ – $6.62 for state filing and $13.24 for state and federal if you don’t qualify for free filing.

    For the past 2 years, I have used http://www.freetaxusa.com/ without any problems ($9.95 for state filing)

  11. medalian1 Says:

    After doing my entire return I was promted to pay a fee for a federal return when it was promisied free on IRS.GOV. I emailed them and they said I typed in the domain instead of clicking through on irs.gov link. So I had to go back to IRS.GOV, click the link, make a new account and re-do all my tax paperwork. I tried just logging into the original account I made, but that kept trying to charge me. That might be the problem with the free/basic switch some people are reporting.

  12. Siikarla Says:

    I’ve always been curious about what kind of results I would get if I used the different programs to calculate my return (or payment). Would they all come out the same? Anyone tried this?

  13. JPDOYLE Says:

    The above comments about the Turbo Tax Deluxe and higher versions including the State software are correct – you need to amend your chart accordingly – no need for a seperate State purchase when using these versions of Turbo Tax.

  14. Dustin Jones Says:

    http://www.freetaxusa.com

    was the cheapest I found for e-filing.

  15. Andrew Says:

    Thank you for this article. It really helps better understand what to look for with such software.

  16. jeff Says:

    another thumbs up for taxslayer.com, only 9.95 for state, federal and e-file. Easy to use, not quite as polished as TaxCut and TurboTax, but it does your taxes for much less.

  17. Joe Banks Says:

    I moved from NY to CT this year. Do I need to purchase two versions of Turbotax at $44 a piece or is there a way I can add another state for a fee through Turbotax?

  18. eno Says:

    One thing Turbotax for the Web does not make clear on the site… because they want to you spend lot’s of money. The basic at $14.95 includes 1040 and schedule C and most of the other forms. They just don’t offer as many helpful features for the more advanced forms: audit flags and the like.

  19. Tad Sketchy Says:

    Another endorsement here for the basic version of TaxAct: free download + free filing of my Federal return. My state has a website for filing my state return for free, so I don’t mind that it’s not included in the basic TaxAct version.

  20. gerry cody Says:

    I’ve been using taxactonline since the first year available, love it! don’t know why anyone would use anything else.

  21. JB Says:

    I’ve used TaxCut the past 2 years just so I’m covered by H+R in case I get audited, and the local office credits me the cost of the software against in-office tax prep if I get in over my head.
    Buy.com offers the Premium Federal & State & e-file for $53.02 w/free shipping, -$10 if it’s your first Google checkout purchase = $43.02 instead of $60.

  22. pete’s world » Tax Software Pricing Comparison Says:

    [...] It’s that time again, and normally I already have done my taxes and received my refund already.  But I haven’t (more on that below), and I wanted to pass along this link that compares the total costs, including e-filing, of the major tax preparation softwares.  It’s pretty in depth, and shows where to get more bang for your buck. [...]

  23. The Prudent Hedonist » Tax Software Says:

    [...] It’s that time of year again…  I’d asked around on my interwebs about the best software to use (Turbotax won, though the sample size was small).  Today, The Consumerist pointed me to Lifehacker who pointed me to this pretty comprehensive rundown of the actual costs of tax prep software (purchase price + filing costs + other fees) and I figured I’d share it. [...]

  24. sjpeer Says:
    • Several people have recommended Taxslayer.com. It looks like their online product costs only $9.95 OTD for federal and state tax prep and e-file. That would make them the lowest OTD price. As with other sites, I’d love to see a clear chart with the pricing because it wasn’t ultra clear.
    • One reader mentioned that the free TaxActOnline “Standard” account let them add a state return at the end of the federal preparation process for only $12.95. Assuming that’s true for everyone that takes the OTD cost down from $15.95 to $12.95. If anyone can provide a second confirmation of this, that would be great.
    • Several people mentioned that you can get special discounts on the software versions of TurboTax and TaxCut. I also have seen discounts so it might be worth trying your luck. But I would be very cautious. Based on how confusing they make their offerings, I wouldn’t be surprised to see even more variation between retail versions of the software.
    • I made an error on the TurboTax Software pricing. The Deluxe and higher versions include the state software. However, my understanding is that you still have to pay for both federal and state e-filing at $14.95 a pop. I’ve updated the charts. I knew I’d make an error somewhere.
    • One reader asked about filing in multiple states. This is an item that requires individual research. In my research, most state programs allowed for at least two different state e-filings.
    • One reader mentioned that H&R Block “credits…the cost of the software against in-office tax prep if I get in over my head.” That’s great to know. I’m glad to see H&R Block leveraging their unique advantage of having brick and mortar locations.
  25. life]::[focus]::[pro » Blog Archive » :: Choosing Tax Preparation Software Says:

    [...] The author covers not only the “big two” (TaxCut and TurboTax), but also four lesser-known tax-prep apps. Even better, he points out that if your Adjusted Gross Income is below $50,000, you can take advantage of numerous free filing solutions. Having bounced back and forth between TaxCut and TurboTax over the years, I found this quite enlightening. In fact, I was also set to plunk down my cash for boxed version of TurboTax, as I never bothered to investigate the online alternative (which I assumed would be the same price). If you use any kind of tax-prep software, you owe it to yourself to read this piece. — Rick Broida Source: full text is available here [...]

  26. Liz Says:

    Also, some of us would rather print and snail mail our forms than e-file. (Yeah, call me a Luddite :-) I also am very hesitant about using an online program. This changes my view of pricing considerably.

    Good article, though. now that I’ve switched from QuickenMac to Moneydance, I’m not tied to TurboTax. Time to study the competition!

  27. John Mahler Says:

    I bought the online software this year and filed electronicly . I filed my federal only and am sending in the State. I would like to point out that I was billed 44.95 for the internet download and then when I filed it said it would be 14.95. So I then was noteified that I needed to update the program which I did. Then the fee for filing on line with Turbo Tax came to 16.95. By the way I am referring to the deluxe package, which includes one free State download.
    So the onlline download does not include a fee of 16.95 for e-file.

  28. Josh Says:

    I have used taxslayer.com for several years now and they offer free state and federal preparation – you put in your numbers, it fills out the form, you can print and mail the forms, no charge. If you want e-file, you pay 9.99 for federal and state filing, combined. I finished mine up yesterday and after paying my 9.99, received notification today that both my state and federal taxes had been accepted. I’ve had good experiences with them, and it looks like they have good tools available for those with more complex tax needs as well.

    J

  29. Bruce Says:

    Joe,
    Yes you can buy an additional state from TurboTax. When I considered this several years ago, I think it was cheaper if they were bought all together.

  30. Bruce Says:

    Taxaide is a program sponsored by the IRS and AARP that prepares and efiles both Federal and State returns for free for low income or elderly people. They normally set up in your local library, just from February through April 15th.

    Check it out to find locations, or volunteer, at the website link included.

  31. Bruce Says:

    The Taxaide website is Tax-Aide

  32. Lifehacker Says:

    How much does that tax-prep software really cost?

    Money-management blog Getting Finances Done features an exhaustive comparison of tax-prep programs and their “out-the-door” prices, along with links to free tax-prep providers. This is not a review of the actual programs, but rather an examination o…

  33. Woody Says:

    With TurboTax, you do have to pay for fed and state e-file, but the first one you get a rebate back for the amount it costs, so its really one free e-file. And you can add a second state to TurboTax for a small fee, though I don’t know how much.

  34. Tax Planning: U.S. Says:

    How Much Does Tax Software Really Cost?

    A most difficult question to answer, since the price of software depends on which versions you choose, whether you need to prepare state tax returns, and whether you e-file the return. But personal finance blog Getting Finances Done has tackled the mat…

  35. Andrew Says:

    Just FYI, the IRS notes that the maximum for free filing is $52,000, not $50,000 as your article states.

  36. M.A. Glemser Says:

    To get to TurboTax’s free site, you must use this link: http://www.statetaxfreedom.com

    By using this address, if you live in a state that supports free e-file, and your income is below a certain threshold, you can prepare, e-file, and direct deposit your refund, state and federal, FOR FREE! It even gives you the telephone tax credit automatically! The only catch is, if you have any investment info., eg. if you exersised NQSOs, you must upgrade to a paid program. I have used this link for years and I love this program! Last year, I exercised some stock options, so I can’t use the free program this year, but it will tell you in the interview process as you go along if you must upgrade programs.

  37. Bob Shreve Says:

    Thank you for your comprehensive article. I agree that Turbo-Tax makes it almost impossible to understand the actual cost of the return. Another problem is that their “premium” softwares don’t seem to add any real value. The deluxe has all the basic forms you need. I have found their info notes to be incomplete in the past.

  38. Nathan Says:

    For what it’s worth, paying someone to do your taxes – especially if you have a small business – is worth every penny and really not much more expensive than the above options.
    When I consider spending hours on my taxes at any costs, or 30 minutes + my accountants fee I quickly realize how I can make back the difference in the billable time I free up. Especially since he’s going to do a better job with my books anyways and probably get me a larger return / lower taxes.

  39. Sam Wilber Says:

    Why bother at all? I thought the IRS was a scam? Or did they produce the laws yet?

  40. Ajax Girl Says:

    [...] I recently posted a tax software provider pricing comparison with some interesting results. I calculated and compared “out-the-door” pricing including both state and federal tax-prep and e-filing. I think you’ll find the results very interesting. [...]

  41. Operation Gadget Says:

    “Getting Finances Done” Provides Excellent Comparison of DIY Electronic Tax Preparation Alternatives

    Signal vs. Noise pointed out a terrific comparison of cost of various methods of do-it-yourself electronic tax preparation. This article is excellent because it attempts to compare the so-called out the door price of doing your state and federal taxes….

  42. PRpulp » Blog Archive » The afternoon squeeze: Even PR pros have to do taxes Says:

    [...] We came across this post and thought it might be helpful for navigating through all the online tax prep offerings that are out there. [...]

  43. Paul Says:

    By law, every tax prep business that offeres e-file MUST offer a free-file version of of that software for the most basic filing options (1040EZ). Of course, these generally come with absolutly no help, is hard to find and use, but it is there. What I don’t get, is why the IRS itself doesn’t offer online tax prep, it would make more sense. Reference: http://www.irs.gov/app/freeFile/jsp/index.jsp?ck

  44. Don't Mess With Taxes Says:

    Tax Carnival #17: Quit monkeying around!

    It’s April 16. The day before tax due day 2007. The day when many of us, especially those of us still working on our 1040s, feel a special kinship with those crazy loons. Don’t fret! It’s also Tax Carnival Day. And while doing taxes can definitely b…

  45. Review of Online Tax Products « TaxAct Test Blog Says:

    [...] Review of Online Tax Products I found this fairly comprehensive review of the major tax preparation software products here. [...]

  46. Debt Consolidation WebLog » Blog Archive » AccountingWeb Weekly News Says:

    [...] Getting Finances Done » Tax Preparation Software Pricing Comparison … and state tax preparation as well as federal and state tax e-filing … of calculations (almost all offer this) “Biggest tax refund or … The day before tax due day 2007. The day when many of us, especially … http://www.gettingfinancesdone.com/blog/archives/2007/02/tax-preparation-software-pricing-comparison/ [...]

  47. Jason Yourofsky Says:

    Michigan Mortgage
    We have used Turbo tax for our business before and it was a breeze.

    Michigan Mortgage

  48. Tax accountant salary - Windows vs. Linux: The Patent Tax - Software Freedom Law Center » Tax Accountant Says:

    [...] Getting Finances Done ? Tax Preparation Software Pricing ComparisonYeah, but who pays full price for tax software at a store? I don?t know if I?ve ever seen it not on sale. The Turbo Tax Deluxe I bought with a coupon from … [...]

  49. Ellen Says:

    I found that Turbo Tax also guarantees your return should you get an audit from the IRS. do the other programs offer this? it is included in the price of the Turbo Tax.
    they also have a full 60 day money back guarantee with no questions asked. if your not happy its a full refund, period no hassels. do the others programs offer that?
    just curious how the customer service for each would be. I know its free with Turbo Tax.
    I have used it since it came out and I love it.

  50. Discount Desktop Computers Says:

    What a nice post for Comparison …

  51. Mark Says:

    “the online versions include efile in the price…”

    NOT TRUE! I thought that as well last year when I used Turbo Tax Deluxe. I just wanted to get it over with so I payed the $14.95 for efiling. They are VERy unclear on their site abou this. had to actually complete the whole tax preparation process before I found out the real story.

  52. Discount door locks and handles Says:

    yeah its very great

  53. Blank T-Shirts Says:

    really great post!

  54. Heidi Says:

    I was also skeptical of TaxActOnline’s ability to be free. Wondering if it was less complex (e.g. less able to find good deductions) I completed the forms and then filled the same information into TaxCut. Sure enough, TaxCut found additional deductions. The next year, I went straight to TaxCut, but being a skeptic, I decided to then enter the data into TaxAct. Surprisingly, TaxAct recommended deductions that TaxCut had missed. Both years, I was able to save hundreds of dollars… well worth the ten minutes to re-key everything. Since TaxAct is free, it is even more worth it!!

  55. Frank Says:

    I used Taxact last year for my return and Turbotax on my sons.

    Taxact would not let me save a pdf copy to my computer whereas Turbotax did.

    For this fact alone, I will not go back to Taxact.

  56. james CF Says:

    Thanks for such a great article. If you have more info to update for ‘08 that would be great. Certain prices seem to have already risen almost 100% since this year TurboTax wants 69.99 for federal/state/e-file and you quoted 39.99 price just last year. Like he mentions in the body – look online for programs first. Turbotax right now (1/25) has a promotion of federal and e-file for 19.95 saving you some dough.

  57. CJ Says:

    Interesting article. However, I would like have seen something about a company called Citizen Tax. I have used them the last couple of years and have had no problems. They offer federal and state return combined for only $9.99. That is for all their forms too, no fee increases for certain forms like some of these other sites. If you are interested in an easy tax filing this season I would defenitely check them out. I highly recommend http://citizentax.com

  58. Taxes, what a mess at lifeinlists.com Says:

    [...] This review really sums up my experience last year. The tax software I used was confusing, poorly explained, un-documented, and you always felt like they were trying to scam you out of a couple bucks.A very big change from the experience that many of today’s software startups (yes (sigh), many of them are “web2.0″ startups) are trying to provide (free, comforting, easy, super intuative). Guess there’s an opportunity here, and eventually people will get sick of being treated poorly by the larger companies. [...]

  59. Leah Says:

    i dont like this site

  60. atldutch Says:

    Excellent article and very helpful. My gf uses eztaxrefunds and I had never heard of them. Thank you for helping me understand their value.

    However, it appears that the link provided for EZtaxrefunds.com is out of date (when I clicked it linked to commission junction). Here it is: http://www.eztaxrefunds.com/

  61. JB Says:

    I just used TaxSlayer. It was the quickest I’ve ever completed my taxes. It’s intuitive and inexpensive. I paid $19.95 total (one federal, two state returns).

  62. Jessica Says:

    Great article! I’ve been using OnePriceTaxes for 2 years now. I love how fast and easy their site is. They were also very helpful when I need to ask questions about my return. I paid only $9.95 total for both a federal and state tax return (including e-filing). Here is a link to them: http://www.onepricetaxes.com

  63. http://www.gettingfinancesdone.com/blog/archives/2007/02/tax-preparation-software-pricing-comparison/ Says:

    [...] http://www.gettingfinancesdone.com/blog/archives/2007/02/tax-preparation-software-pricing-comparison/ [...]

  64. Pete’s World » Blog Archive » Tax Software Pricing Comparison (1) Says:

    [...] It’s that time again, and normally I already have done my taxes and received my refund already. But I haven’t (more on that below), and I wanted to pass along this link that compares the total costs, including e-filing, of the major tax preparation softwares. It’s pretty in-depth, and shows where to get more bang for your buck. [...]

  65. Dubai Property Says:

    hmm, fantastic articles ! thanks guys

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  67. David Says:

    This site provides a great side-by-side comparison of the top ten tax preparation software products.

  68. John David Vance Says:

    I’ve used TurboTax for several years but always felt abused for the price they charged for filing State taxes. This year I’ve done mine on TaxAct and TaxSlayer and I find both a small bit more difficult but for the savings I’m switching. I did like the fact that I could download my investment info from Vanguard but it was easy to enter it manually one each program. TaxAct is $16.95 for Fed and St and TaxSlayer is $9.95 for Fed and State. I’ll probably go with TaxSlayer since each came out to the exact same numbers on both Fed and State.

  69. Talking Tech Friday - Taxes « MCLC Library Tech Talk Says:

    [...] Getting Finances Done (a review of major tax preparation services) [...]

  70. World Economy Says:

    World Economy

    Well said! I too thought that this year people would rethink the meaning of Christmas. In times like this you would think people would take a minute to check their spending habits and start spending more time with family and friends. I always tell my m…

  71. Mark Says:

    I used TaxActOnline and started with the free federal, then added state, then added Data Archive Service. Federal was free, state filing required upgrading by paying $17.95, and the Archiving Service was an additional $5.95. The total price then for what I received was $23.90.

  72. ONLINE TAX RETURN | Tax In A Hurry Says:

    [...] tax preparation software pricing comparison – i have such a headache. i thought i would post a little summary comparison of the major (and a few minor) tax preparation programs both software and online. i figured i would end up comparing them anyway for my own personal use, … [...]

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