How to prepare your taxes with the best tax preparation service in the US

How to prepare your taxes with the best tax preparation service in the US. File your taxes with our top-rated software to ease your mind, maximize your refund and save with early-filer discounts. Tax season can be an overwhelming time for many people. However, finding the best tax preparation service can help lighten the burden. We’ve rated and reviewed the most popular tax software packages to help you choose the one that’s right for you.

Tax preparation services are often more expensive than do-it-yourself options, but if you have very complex taxes, going to a tax prep expert could be a good decision. We reviewed some of the best tax prep companies to determine the five best tax preparation services based on reputation, pricing, available services, and more.

The best tax preparation service is going to be the one that fits your needs. Individuals filing their taxes from income gained from an employer will have different needs than those filing and are self-employed. Furthermore, the complexities that come from tax credits and deductions can make a person opt for a professional tax preparer.

Top 3 best tax preparation service in the US for 2022

H&R Block

H&R Block is a big name in tax filing due to its longevity in the industry and its vast operation, having nearly 10,000 offices. The H&R Block customer reviews back up its professional claims as being top-notch in the tax filing industry. It offers options to file with experienced tax professionals in-person (or virtually) or to file through their online services. 

Most people will find the appropriate services they need with H&R Block. Services for simple tax return filing to more complex self-employed tax filings are available. Online filing services are tiered based on need. Simple filing for students, those with unemployment income, or W-2 employees are offered at no cost.

Those looking to maximize credits and deductions may prefer the Deluxe option, starting at $29.99, while rental property owners and investors might opt for the Premium option, starting at $49.99. There is also an online option, starting at $84.99, for those who have small businesses or are self-employed and have individual home deductions. Assistance from live experts is available for these online options at additional costs. 
 
If an online tax preparation service doesn’t suit your taste, H&R Block still offers services with tax professionals, one-on-one in an office or virtually, starting at $80. H&R Block is a popular choice for a reliable tax preparation service due to its long history, high customer ratings, and affordable pricing structure. 

Jackson Hewitt

Jackson Hewitt has been in the tax filing game for over three decades. It offers services in more than 5,500 locations, with half of those located within Walmart stores. These locations’ uniqueness offers tax filing customers a convenient option when searching for a tax preparation service. 

In addition to the services offered at the locations mentioned above with on-site tax professionals, Jackson Hewitt offers online tax filing options and virtual filing with tax professionals. Simple, online tax filing starts at $25 for federal filings. Virtual options with tax professionals range from $69 to $249 depending on need, from simple filers to self-employed and more complex tax filers. Due to the franchise nature of some Jackson Hewitt offices, on-site prices may vary. It is best to call the one nearest to you for appropriate pricing. 

TurboTax

Some people prefer the in-person options offered by the tax preparation services mentioned above. Others may choose to use tax preparation software or online options to help prepare and file their taxes. If you are the latter, TurboTax may be right for you. 

TurboTax offers its services through an online format or software purchased in most retail stores. There are no storefronts or offices to visit. TurboTax is a great tax preparation option for those who feel comfortable doing things themselves. But that doesn’t mean professional tax assistance isn’t available if needed; TurboTax Live is an option that allows a tax professional to help complete the process with you.
 
With TurboTax software, customers can file federal and state taxes through an easy-to-follow, step-by-step series of questions, assuming the proper tax documents and forms are already on hand. A free edition is offered for simple returns, W-2 employees, and unemployment income. Deluxe and Premier online options are available for those looking to maximize deductions and credits or those with investment or rental property; those options start at $39 and $79, respectively. A personal and business option for those who are self-employed, starting online at $89. 

Tax preparation service in the US FAQ

What Is a Tax Preparation Service?

Tax preparation services are full-service offerings to complete your annual tax filing forms for the IRS and, if needed, state tax agencies. Unlike online and desktop tax preparation software where you do your own taxes, a tax preparation service will review your tax forms and complete your taxes for you.

Some tax preparation services are available through local offices in person. Others give you access to a preparer or team of preparers online through a mobile app or website.

Who Should Use a Tax Preparation Service?

Tax preparation services are best for anyone who doesn’t want to do their own taxes for any reason. Whether you’re looking to save time, don’t know how to handle a complex tax situation, or just don’t like doing math or using computers for your finances, a tax preparation service becomes a good choice for you.

It’s important to note that you can likely save money doing your own taxes manually or with tax preparation software. Depending on your income and tax complexity, you may even have an option to do your taxes online for free. It is entirely up to taxpayers to use what gives them the most confidence in sending off IRS-related forms.

How Much Does a Tax Preparation Service Cost?

Tax preparation service costs vary based on the provider you choose and the complexities of your taxes. Of the services we reviewed, there were limited options under $100 and those would only work for basic taxes with no state filing. Most tax filers should expect to pay around $150 or more for federal and state tax preparation. Some tax preparers charge a flat rate while others may charge a fee per the additional form you submit.

For more complex taxes or additional services including bookkeeping, tax consulting, and payroll, pricing can go up dramatically. Some business owners with complex taxes might pay over a thousand dollars for full-service tax consulting and preparation.

How Is a Tax Preparation Service Different From Tax Preparation Software?

Tax preparation services and tax preparation software get you to the same finish line, but the path there is very different.

With tax preparation services, you hand over your taxes to someone else to complete your tax forms. All you have to do is sign everything at the end and pay, though it’s always a good idea to review your professionally prepared taxes for any errors before signing.

When you use tax preparation software, you enter the details from your own tax forms into an online system that turns your tax data into finalized tax forms. These applications are available online through the web and mobile apps. Pricing typically varies depending on your needs but is often less than you would pay for someone else to prepare your taxes for you.

DIY tax preparation software is best for those who are comfortable with computers. Even if you own a small business and have complex investments, you can usually do your own taxes using the right tax preparation software. But some tax filers prefer to have a professional handle the tax preparation instead. It’s up to you to decide what’s best for your unique tax filing needs.

Can I file my taxes for free? What’s the catch?

There are two main ways to file your taxes for free. The first is through the IRS’ “File Free” program, which includes private companies that provide their services for free in partnership with the IRS. To qualify, you need to earn less than $72,000 in adjusted gross income. 

The second is through the free programs of non-alliance members, like Intuit’s TurboTax and H&R Block. These private services offer free products for those with simple filing situations, and as long as you don’t have complications like investment income or rental property income, you can stick with the free products all the way through filing. 

Note, however, that Intuit and other companies will often try to upsell you on other products throughout the process. Before signing up for a higher-tier product you hadn’t planned on, make sure you really need it. 

When are taxes due this year in the US?

Federal tax returns for 2021 are due this year on Friday, April 18, 2022. (Washington DC celebrates Emancipation Day on April 15.) Residents of Massachusetts and Maine get an extra day — their tax returns are due April 19 because they celebrate Patriots’ Day on April 18.

Some taxpayers in Colorado, Kentucky, Illinois, and Tennessee who live in areas affected by natural disasters have an extended tax filing deadline of May 16. You can see which counties are included in the extension on the IRS disaster relief page.

Unlike last year, filing deadlines were not extended in 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll keep you updated if tax deadlines change at all this year.

When should I pay extra to get live assistance from online tax software?

The beauty of well-designed tax software is that most filers won’t need to pay extra for expert help. All of the answers you need should only be a few clicks away, and if you need technical assistance (help with the software, not tax-related issues), support should be easily accessible.

If you find yourself constantly wanting to speak with a human tax expert or if you know your tax situation is complicated, you may be better off selecting tax software with tax expert support or simply hiring a CPA, or certified public accountant, on your own. 

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