Top Tools and Services for Filing Your Taxes - Quicken Loans Zing BlogThis was the first year I did my own taxes, and technically, I didn’t do them… I just went to H&R Block. We went with the tax preparer because my taxes were much more complicated this year; I had W-2s, 1099s and was joint filing for the first time. Because we needed multiple forms, Schedule Cs and whatnot, H&R Block’s fee was higher than I had hoped, $290, but it was a pretty quick and painless process. I remember watching my dad spend all weekend on taxes. I was also impressed with the fast and friendly service we received.

Now that I’ve entered the world of complicated, “adult” taxes, I decided to look up some of the most popular products and services. There’s a wide range of options out there ranging from free apps and online programs to more costly software and services.

One initial thing to keep in mind is that you can file your federal taxes for free through the IRS with freefile if you have an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $57,000 or less. Otherwise, you can e-file through a commercial program likes the ones I’ve listed below.

Many of these programs will advertise that you can file for free. Usually, that’s only for your federal taxes, and only if you need a simple form like the 1040EZ. Most programs will include some kind of tax question help and audit support.

The IRS has a free app, IRS2Go, which will help you track your refund status, access your tax record and get other tax-related information.

There’s a generally agreed upon list of the top tools and companies, so I’ve noted them below.

Tax Filing Programs/Software


  • Free Edition – Federal is free + $9.95 for state
  • Deluxe Edition – $5.95 + $9.95 for state

This program is pretty new, but it’s cheaper than TaxAct, which used to be one of the cheapest.


  • Free Federal Edition + $14.95 for state
  • Deluxe Federal – $9.95 + $14.95 for state
    • Allows you to import prior year’s TaxAct info
    • Free phone support
  • Ultimate Bundle, Deluxe + State – $17.95 + $14.95 for state

All the packages allow you to e-file for free, and TaxAct has a few different, free apps.

CCH CompleteTax – now eSmart Tax by Liberty Tax

  • Basic – Free federal + $19.95 for state
  • Deluxe – $19.95 + $19.95 for state
  • Premium – $39.95 + $19.95

H&R Block At Home Tax Software

  • Free Edition
  • Basic – $19.95
  • Deluxe – $44.95
    • Includes five free federal e-files + $19.95 for state
  • Premium – $64.95
    • Includes five free federal e-files + $19.95 for state
  • Premium & Business – $79.95
    • Includes five free federal e-files + $19.95 for state


  • Free Edition – simple, federal returns + $27.99 for state
  • Basic – $20.00 + $27.99 for state
  • Deluxe – $30.00 + $27.99 for state
  • Premier – $50.00 + $27.99 for state
  • Home & Business – $75.00 + $27.99 for state

Like I said earlier, TurboTax is the one my family has used, and it’s quick and easy. It also has a really cool free app, SnapTax that lets you take a picture of your W-2, answer some questions and then file your taxes. This works for simpler returns, and it costs $24.99 ($29.99 starting March 23) to file both federal and state through SnapTax. If you have an iPhone, the fee will be charged to your iTunes account.

Tax Services

There are a lot of options when it comes to tax preparers from relatively cheap to really expensive. On the cheaper end you have chains like Liberty Tax Service and H&R Block, both of which also have apps to help you find locations, track refunds and get tax tips. You can also go with a private tax preparer, but expect to pay a lot more. As I said before, I had a great experience with H&R Block, and if you’ve got more involved taxes, I think having a professional prepare your taxes is definitely worth the money.

As a final comment, make sure your employer is taking out the right amount of taxes so that you don’t end up owing in the end.

If you have any other tax tips or experience, please share them with us!


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