Best Tax Software 2024: Tax Prep Tools Ranked


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When it comes to selecting the best tax software program, there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer that’s perfect for everyone. For 2024, we’ve looked at the best and worst features of each online tax software program that we cover. 

Our top choice for the best overall tax software remains TurboTax, with H&R Block coming in as a strong runner-up.


Cash App Taxes is our top choice for free filing. We also looked at TaxAct, TaxSlayer, Cash App Taxes, FreeTaxUSA, Tax Hawk, and others to help you make the best choice for your unique tax situation and budget.

Don’t forget that the tax filing deadline this year is April 15, 2024! Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to complete your tax return before the deadline.

Best Tax Software Overview


Maximizing Credits And Deductions

Easy imports of tax forms and data

The free version includes student loan interest as well as tuition and fees for students


Easy imports of crypto tax data from crypto-specific tax apps

Tax Liability Calculators For Crypto And NFT Traders

Useful for crypto taxes and year-round crypto portfolio tracking

Powerful tools to import stock account data and understand investment taxes

Manage real estate investments with reasonable pricing

It’s free and works for many part-time business owners

Better pricing than competitors for similar features

Value For Experienced Filers

Competitive cost for access to a human tax expert

Online tax prep backed by thousands of physical locations

Tax Refund Anticipation Loans

Get up to $4,000 with no fees or interest

The tax software apps that appear on this site include companies from which The College Investor may receive compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The College Investor does not include all tax prep companies or all tax prep offers available in the marketplace, although we are always striving to keep our content updated with fair, in-depth reviews.

Best Overall Tax Software

The best overall tax software category represents the software that best meets the needs of a majority of filers. You’ll have to pay more for premium programs, but they make tax filing faster and more straightforward.

Winner: TurboTax

TurboTax is the easiest tax software to use. It’s pricier than others but makes tax filing easier than most competitors. In many cases, TurboTax users can import PDF and spreadsheet files with tax data or connect directly to your employer, bank, or investment company to automatically download your tax data.

While we don’t love the high price (and the fact they aren’t very transparent about what you’ll pay up front), TurboTax is the 900-pound gorilla of the industry, and its ability to download financial data is a huge time saver for anyone with multiple bank and investment accounts.

If you’re new to preparing your own taxes, TurboTax makes is very easy, and that’s worth it.

best tax overall software: TurboTax

Runner-Up: H&R Block

Each year, we’re more impressed by H&R Block’s high-quality tax filing experience and functionality. Filers can import most tax PDF forms, so adding W-2 and 1099 forms is fairly painless. H&R Block doesn’t have the same integration functionality as TurboTax. However, it comes with the best option to convert from DIY tax software to in-person human support due to a huge network of physical H&R Block locations.

The clean user interface and question-and-answer guidance make H&R Block an excellent option for most people. H&R Block is a bit less expensive than TurboTax. The forms and features are excellent but fall a little short of our top pick. Nonetheless, most people will have a positive overall experience with H&R Block Online.

best tax software: H&R Block Online

Best Free Tax Software

Unlike in many other countries, free filing is something of a unicorn in America. Only one company, Cash App Taxes, offers truly free filing for all users in 2024, but it limits supported tax situations. If you qualify for free filing, it can save you up to a hundred dollars or more on tax preparation.

Don’t assume you qualify for free filing in 2024. Read the section on maximizing credits and deductions as well. While many tax programs advertise free filing for some users, most are forced to upgrade to a paid tier. You don’t want to start filing with a limited free program only to be forced into an expensive upgrade.

Warning: If you start filing taxes through a link at the IRS Free File website, you won’t be able to upgrade later to a paid version, per program rules. If you think you might need to upgrade to a paid software, be sure to start at the tax software vendor’s website, not the IRS Free File site.

Winner: Cash App Taxes

Cash App Taxes, formerly called Credit Karma Tax, is the only major software program providing free state and federal filing for all covered tax situations. The semi-guided navigation and “freebies” like Audit Defense make Cash App Taxes tough to overlook. Cash App Taxes is owned by Square, the payment processor and owner of Cash App.

Cash App Taxes doesn’t work for households filing in multiple states. You’ll need to look elsewhere if you moved during the year or earned income in multiple states. Active traders may also run into limitations, as Cash App Taxes doesn’t have any brokerage integrations. But most other filers will likely the price and the well-designed user experience.

best tax software: Cash App Taxes

Runner-Up: H&R Block Free

In 2024, H&R Block Online Free has the same excellent user experience as the paid version, but with limited tax situations covered. Filers can snap a photo of their W-2 and complete filing in just a few minutes. The Free tier also supports Social Security and unemployment income. The Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Credit (EIC), education credits, and student loan interest deductions are part of the free version, whereas many other tax apps require an upgrade if you have those needs.

Unfortunately, not everyone will qualify for free filing with H&R Block. For example, those with daycare expenses or HSA contributions, rental income, self-employment income, or capital gains will have to pay to upgrade to a higher tier.

best tax software: H&R Block Free

Best Tax Software For Maximizing Credits And Deductions (Itemized Deductions)

Historically, we’ve called this category “The Best Software For Itemizers.” However, the 2017 tax law led to fewer people needing to itemize. Although fewer people need to itemize their taxes in 2024, many still rely on this option to maximize credits and deductions.

The following situations offer opportunities to claim deductions or credits that don’t require itemizing:

  • Paying student loan interest
  • Paying higher education expenses
  • Contribution to a retirement account
  • Paying child or dependent care expenses
  • Contributing up to $300 in charitable expenses
  • Contributing to an HSA
  • Additional limited situations

Depending on your situation, either of these could be the best choice:

Winner: TurboTax

TurboTax charges the most to maximize itemized deductions, but you get what you pay for. TurboTax forms are easier and faster to complete, and it has a quick search feature that allows you to jump around to any specific credit, deduction, or form you want to enter.

All tax software should give you the same “maximum refund” within a few dollars, due to rounding. However, TurboTax makes finding and capturing all refunds you may qualify for easier than others. This makes it worth the added cost for those with complex taxes.

best tax software: TurboTax Deluxe

Runner-Up: Cash App Taxes

Cash App Taxes offers free federal and state tax filing for all users. The user experience is excellent, and you don’t have to worry about paying for upgrades, even when you have a long list of deductions. This free filing software is ideal for users who need to maximize their refund and have “slightly complicated” finances. If you don’t care about the bells and whistles of TurboTax and can make Cash App Taxes work for you, it’s a solid choice.

Cash App Taxes is our top recommendation for free tax filing too. It supports most tax situations (except K-1 income or multi-state filing). However, if you’re self-employed, moved to a new state, or work and live across state lines, you may need to go with a pricier competitor.

best tax software: Cash App Taxes

Best Tax Software For Student Loan Borrowers 

In the United States, the student loan interest deduction allows you to lower your taxable income without itemizing. With the COVID-related moratorium on student loan payments over, tax filers who paid student loan interest should take advantage of this savings opportunity.

Winner: TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer offers a balance of features and cost, with more affordable pricing than the industry leaders. If you’re a recent grad with student loan interest and taxes that are not overly complicated, TaxSlayer could be a winner.

It doesn’t have great importing features for active traders, but most others will find TaxSlayer does an excellent job of guiding them through their tax prep experience without breaking the bank. For example, if you only have a W-2 and bank account interest, plus student loans, TaxSlayer is a great choice. If you’re already on a tight budget due to student loan payments, TaxSlayer can save you money while giving you the necessary features for an accurate tax return.

best tax software for student loans: TaxSlayer

Runner-Up: H&R Block

H&R Block supports student loan interest and other educational credits on its free tier. The easy-to-use software makes tax filing a snap. The free version also includes tuition deductions. 

However, filers need to watch out for limits to the free tier that could trigger a required upgrade. Most credits and deductions aren’t supported at the free level. People who contributed to an HSA, a traditional IRA, anyone with dependent care expenses, and those who made charitable contributions will need to upgrade.

best tax software: H&R Block Free

Runner-Up: Cash App Taxes

Cash App Taxes is completely free. It’s not our top choice for active investors, business owners, or multi-state filers, but other students with mostly W-2 income and a few 1099s should do just fine.
best tax software: Cash App Taxes

Best Tax Software For Cryptocurrency Traders

If you dabble in digital currencies, you likely know that the tax laws for cryptocurrency investments are somewhat similar to stocks. Accurately summarizing and reporting crypto income, capital gains, and other details on your tax return is required by law.

Major cryptocurrency exchanges report to the IRS, so don’t think you’ll get away with cheating Uncle Sam on your crypto earnings.

While most tax software includes some basic questions about cryptocurrency, they typically don’t offer easy integrations with crypto exchanges or wallets. Because it comes with better support for digital currencies, we picked TurboTax as the winner. We also reviewed a “helper” option that can help you pull together cryptocurrency tax forms from your exchanges and wallets.

Winner: TurboTax Premium

TurboTax makes it easy for Coinbase customers to import transactions into the tax software. Once you import your transactions, TurboTax does the math to help you declare profits and losses. You will need to upgrade to TurboTax’s Premium level to access cryptocurrency features, including the Coinbase import tool.

TurboTax also allows users to upload spreadsheet versions of IRS Form 8949 from other cryptocurrency tax tools. Filers who use a tax calculator (such as the software listed below) can import their reports into TurboTax directly.

best tax software: TurboTax Premier

Runner-Up: TaxAct Premium

TaxAct doesn’t have many third-party integrations, but it does have a method for calculating crypto-related capital gains. Filers can upload IRS Form 8949 and summarize their total capital gains in a single line.

Admittedly, this feels unintuitive, but it’s the method advocated by both TaxAct and the tax liability calculators.

best tax software for crypto: TaxAct Premier

Best Tax Liability Calculators For Crypto And NFT Traders

Cryptocurrency has seen several ups and downs, with major winning streaks and lengthy “crypto winter” losses. While you may want to put crypto losses behind you, getting the taxes right for past crypto investments is still required.

These tax packages aren’t full tax filing tools. Instead, they calculate the tax liability associated with crypto and NFT activity. You then export IRS Form 8949, which is required for calculating capital gains on trades. You can import Form 89490 into TurboTax and other tax software.

Winner: Koinly

Koinly is a great app for tracking all cryptocurrency accounts and wallets year-round for free. When tax season comes around, Koinly offers features to convert that crypto data into tax forms and reports.

The free plan lets you try everything out, but doesn’t generate tax reports. Full tax reporting costs $49 to $179 per tax year, depending on the number of transactions.

It works with nearly all types of trades, automatically matches transactions between accounts and wallets, and downloads from most exchanges via APIs. It also downloads wallet data directly from each blockchain network for self-custody wallets

best tax liability calculator for crypto: koinly

Runner-Up: CoinTracker

CoinTracker is a robust cryptocurrency tracking and tax reporting software. We don’t love the pricing, but it has some of the best features and ease of use of any cryptocurrency tax solution. It also integrates with over 500 exchanges, wallets, and blockchains using a combination of built-in integrations and APIs.

You can connect and track your current holdings for free. Getting more details on your earnings and losses requires upgrading to a subscription plan, which costs up to $99 per month. We don’t recommend the crypto tracking subscription to most typical crypto investors.

Tax prep is free for users with less than 25 transactions. Premium tiers cost $99 to $599 (currently offered with a discount) for added support and tax summaries by wallet.

best crytpo tax software: cointracker

Best Tax Software For Stock Market Investors

Filers who only place a few trades per year have several tax filing options. For example, TaxHawk or Cash App Taxes can easily handle these situations. However, people who trade more than 100 timers per year will likely not want to enter trades manually.

Our two preferred providers are, unfortunately, the most expensive. However, they make tax filing simple for stock market investors. Sometimes, your time saved is worth the slightly higher cost.

Winner: H&R Block Premium

H&R Block Premium allows users to upload tax forms from their brokerages. H&R Block will then use those forms to figure out the filer’s taxable income. It imports 1099-B Forms, among others. 

H&R Block then takes on the burden of calculating your capital gains taxes. H&R Block Premium isn’t cheap, but the time savings is well worth the price.

H&R Block’s pricing and features are a reasonable choice if you have one or two brokerage accounts.

best tax software for stock market investors: H&R Block Premium

Runner-Up: TurboTax Premium

TurboTax offers similar functionality to H&R Block. It integrates with tons of brokerages which makes tax filing easy. The point-and-click interface offers superior usability compared to H&R Block’s interface. However, the enhanced usability fails to justify the higher price tag. Most users will save money by using H&R Block Premium.

If you have multiple investment accounts, TurboTax may be worth the extra cost for transaction data downloads directly from the brokerage rather than uploading tax forms.

best tax software for investors: TurboTax Premier

Best Tax Software For Landlords

Landlords have some of the most complicated returns, along with business owners. Keeping track of a property’s income, expenses, and depreciation can be tedious but essential for tax time.

We looked for software that makes calculating depreciation easy and allows for easy import of prior-year information to ensure continuity across returns. There’s also some preference given to software that allows filers to import from the previous year’s taxes. The prior year’s numbers help landlords understand whether variances from the previous year’s numbers make sense or are due to miskeying information.

Winner: TaxSlayer Classic

TaxSlayer Classic supports all major tax forms, including Schedule E for rental income. Landlords will appreciate TaxSlayer’s easy-to-use interface and the jargon-free articles that explain how deductions can be claimed. Plus, it’s cheaper than TurboTax and H&R Block for similar features.

Those who have specific questions can upgrade to TaxSlayer Premium to ask a tax professional how certain expenses should be classified. TaxSlayer supports competitor imports and has excellent summary sections that make reviewing easy.

best tax software for landlords: taxslayer Classic

Runner-Up: Cash App Taxes

Although Cash App Taxes is free, it has useful depreciation calculators that simplify taxes for rental income. Landlords can use the guided interface to claim legitimate deductions and depreciation accurately.

Filers can also import prior year information from H&R Block, TurboTax, and TaxAct. This makes it easy to compare year-over-year claims.

The only drawback here is that if you have properties in more than one state, you’re going to want to try another tool.

best tax software for landlords: cash app taxes

Best Tax Software For Side Hustlers

We like to separate side hustlers from other small business owners because there’s a difference in how full-time business owners handle taxes from side hustlers. We define side hustlers as people working in the gig economy or who earn a part-time income from small businesses outside of a full-time job.

The interesting thing about side hustlers is that they often use different expense tracking apps (like Everlance) and may be eligible to file a Schedule C-EZ tax form instead of a full Schedule C.

Winner: Cash App Taxes

Cash App Taxes allows side-hustlers to prepare their tax returns for free. While filers can’t import information, the software serves up helpful info bubbles throughout the software to smooth the tax filing experience. The free price tag and usability make Cash App Taxes a great choice for side hustlers without complicated expenses. It doesn’t work with K-1 income, which is more common for full-time self-employed business owners.
best tax software for side hustlers: cash app taxes

Runner-Up: TaxSlayer Classic

TaxSlayer Classic gives users access to all tax forms. Given the low price point and extremely robust software, it’s a great deal. Unfortunately, Classic doesn’t include Pro Support or Audit Defense. But it’s a great deal for filers who want a great user interface but don’t need the extras.

best tax software for side hustlers: taxslayer

Don’t Forget About Bookkeeping Apps If You Own A Business

No discussion about tax filing is complete without discussing bookkeeping apps. Filing a Schedule C for your business is easy if you keep good records. Our team uses two apps for side hustle income and expense tracking: Tiller Money (for expense tracking) and Everlance (for mileage tracking). These apps are highly recommended if you don’t use a full bookkeeping suite like Quickbooks, Xero, or Freshbooks.

Last year, we reviewed Keeper Tax for the first time. The text-message-based interface is perfect for people who hate bookkeeping. The $11 monthly subscription includes access to a bookkeeper who manually reviews your expenses. And at tax time, you can pay $39 for a summarized expense report.

Best Tax Software For Small Business Owners

Beyond just entering income and expenses, small business owners need to consider business structure, asset depreciation, individual retirement plans, and more.

While many small business owners would likely benefit from an accountant, those wanting to DIY need to have software that is up for the challenge. 

Winner: TaxSlayer Self-Employed

TaxSlayer offers premium tax filing software at a much lower price point than H&R Block and TurboTax. Small business owners who need to categorize unique expenses can get on the phone with a self-employment expert.

TaxSlayer is about two-thirds the price of our runner-up and offers more valuable perks. It doesn’t, however, automatically generate W-2 or 1099-NEC forms for employees. Small business owners who need these forms may need to consider TurboTax instead.

best tax software for small business owners: taxslayer self-employed

Runner-Up: TurboTax Premium

TurboTax Premium boasts an easy-to-use interface and many supported connections for imports. It also allows self-employed people to figure out the maximum contribution they can make to a solo 401(k) or Roth IRA.

As it’s owned by the same company as Quickbooks, it’s easy to bring your information over from the leading bookkeeping app to the leading tax app.

best tax software for small business: turbotax self-employed

Best Value For Experienced Filers

Experienced filers don’t necessarily need guidance to get through their taxes. They may just need the forms and some calculators to help them through the tough parts. These are bargain software options for people who know what they’re doing.

Winner: Cash App Taxes

Cash App Taxes is free and an amazing software product for experienced and beginning filers. It’s not ideal for active traders, but most other filers will be able to use it.

The big drawback to Cash App Taxes is that it doesn’t cover all tax situations. If you moved mid-year, have a K-1 form, or hold foreign investments, you’ll need to consider other options.

best value tax software: cash app taxes

Runner-Up: FreeTaxUSA

FreeTaxUSA isn’t what we consider premium software, but it’s relatively easy to use. Plus, it offers access to all major tax forms. Federal filing is always free and state filing costs just $14.99 per state. Among paid tax software, that’s one of the best deals around.

The company also offers “Pro Support” as an upgrade. This allows experienced filers to pay to have their personal tax questions answered. Experienced tax filers will find that FreeTaxUSA’s organization will allow them to jump around and complete filing in short order.

best value tax software: freetaxusa

Best Support From Tax Pros

Tax filing time can be a challenge, especially for filers facing new tax situations. Trying to figure out what you can legally deduct is important, but tax filers can end up overpaying to have pros file their taxes for them.

We’re recommending companies that offer “ask a tax pro” options for their online filers (sometimes called live assist). These companies allow filers to set appointments to get their personalized tax questions answered.

Winner: FreeTaxUSA Pro Support

FreeTaxUSA’s Pro Support tier costs $39.99. It involves unlimited phone, live chat, or screen share support with a tax expert. If you’ve got questions, these experts can give you an answer. For this level of service, FreeTaxUSA’s pricing and support options are tough to beat.

best tax support: freetaxusa

Runner-Up: TaxSlayer Premium

TaxSlayer Premium is a moderately-priced software with massive value for filers who need support. It comes with unlimited “Ask a tax pro” options where you can get support from a tax professional (either an enrolled agent or a CPA). It also comes with audit defense and unlimited technical support.

best tax software for support: taxslayer

Best Virtual Tax Preparation

Virtual tax prep was rolled out a few years ago by a few of the leading tax software companies. But the service has become increasingly popular since the pandemic began. Here are our two favorite virtual tax prep service providers for 2024.

Winner: H&R Block Virtual

Upload your tax documents to H&R Block through a secure online portal, and a CPA or Enrolled Agent will handle the filing from there. The software will even provide an estimated time until completion when you select your tax professional. You may need to answer a few questions via phone or email, but the process is simple compared with filing yourself.

If you want in-person tax prep, you can also use H&R Block in-person or drop-off services (where instead of uploading your documents, you can just drop them off at a local office). Readers of The College Investor can also get $25 off in-person tax preparation with this coupon >>

best virtual tax prep: turbotax full service

Runner-Up: Turbo Tax Full Service

The TurboTax Full Service option gives users the ability to upload tax documents and have a tax expert handle filling in tax forms from there. If you prefer not to file your own taxes but want to stick with the TurboTax brand, consider TurboTax’s Full Service option.

best tax software for virtual tax preparation: H&R block virtual

Best For People Seeking A Tax Refund Advance Loan

If you need your tax refund to pay the bills, a tax refund anticipation loan may be on your radar. Unfortunately, too many lenders charge high interest rates for an advance. We don’t recommend tax refund anticipation loans, but filers who qualify may appreciate TurboTax’s interest-free option.

Winner: TurboTax

TurboTax is one of only a few tax filing companies issuing tax refund advance loans this year. Filers can qualify for up to $4,000, which is received in minutes after the IRS accepts your electronically filed tax return.

Here’s what you need to know about TurboTax’s advance:

  • 0% interest
  • No fees
  • Same-day approvalsReview
best tax refund loan: turbotax full service

Who Should Use Tax Software (And Who Shouldn’t)?

Every American that earned income needs to file a tax return. Even if you had taxes withheld from your paycheck, you still should file a tax return – you never know, you may be owed a tax refund. Filing a tax return is basically “settling up” with the IRS. You should what you earned, calculate how much in taxes you should have paid – and if you overpaid, you get a refund. If you underpaid, you owe.

A lot of people wonder why taxes are so “hard”. They’re not hard – you just have to know where to report certain things. You have to report all your income – wages, interest from a savings account, investment gains, rental property, cryptocurrency, and more. Depending on your income sources, it could be very easy, or very complicated.

If you just work a job and get a W2, your tax return is very simple.

If you run multiple side gigs, have investments, and own real estate, your tax return can be very complicated.

In general, filing your taxes is just data entry. But you have to know where to enter the data. That’s where tax software comes into play. If you have all your tax forms, and you can read questions and follow directions, using tax software makes filing your taxes very easy. You’ll get questions that say “Enter Box 1 from your W2”, and you enter it. 

If you notice our list above, we break down tax software options into what types of income you have – because the guidance, support, and price you pay is all based on that. For basic returns, you can file your taxes for free with several options.

For more complicated returns, you can still do it yourself, but you can get support if needed.

Who Shouldn’t Use Tax Software

Tax software requires you to be organized with your tax forms and information, requires you to read and type, and requires some basic knowledge of personal finances.

If you have a complicated tax situation (maybe a business, real estate, and investments), don’t have a great organizational system, or can’t read or write, you should hire a tax preparer. There are free tax preparation options for those with low income or disabilities, but business owners and investors are likely going to want to have a CPA or EA prepare their returns. 

The more complicated your tax situation, the more time (and cost) you’ll face.

Why Should You Trust Us?

The College Investor team spent years reviewing all of the top tax filing options, and our team has personal experience with the majority of tax software tools. I personally have been the lead tax software reviewer since 2022, and have compared most of the major companies on the marketplace.

Our editor-in-chief Robert Farrington has been trying and testing tax software tools since 2011, and has tested and tried almost every tax filing product. Furthermore, our team has created reviews and video walk-throughs of all of the major tax preparation companies which you can find on our YouTube channel.

We’re tax DIYers and want a good deal, just like you. We work hard to offer informed and honest opinions on every product we test.

How Were These Products Tested?

We went through completed a real-life tax return that included W2 income, self-employment income, rental property income, and investment income. We tried to enter every piece of data and use every feature available. We then compared the result to all the other products we’ve tested, as well as a tax return prepared by a tax professional. You can see these tests each year on our review YouTube videos.

Final Thoughts

There is no shortage of tax filing options for you to consider. Depending on your situation, you may need a premium tool with advanced features, or you may do fine with a free tax software app. 

With any of these tax preparation tools, you can zero in on what needs are most important to you and confidently move forward with your 2024 tax return.

Also note – prices and deals change all the time during tax season. We try our best to keep up with the changes, but sometimes we don’t catch everything. So, if you see any changes in pricing for any of the apps, please let us know in the comments below.

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