The Best & Cheapest Tax Software: Top Tax Prep Comparison for 2022

The tax season start date has arrived and the tax deadlines have been announced by the IRS. If you haven’t started filing your taxes already, you’re probably starting to look around for the best and cheapest tax software program online to e-file with for 2022.




If you’re locked in to a particular tax prep software that you love, this may be an easy decision for you: find the right software version for your tax situation this year, pay the cheapest price you can (discounted offers are below to help with that goal), and e-file ASAP. If you haven’t filed your own taxes, or are looking to switch programs, finding the best and cheapest tax software program online can get tricky.

For starters, the features in the paid versions of various programs often don’t align – even if they have the same name (e.g. “Deluxe” or “Premium”). You’ll want to review what forms are covered and meet your personal filing needs, based on how complex your filing is. And with “free versions”, the forms each program covers can be very limited, mostly focused just on simple 1040 filing only, without coverage for many different forms. best & cheapest tax software

Additionally, no two tax software programs have all of the same features. Tax expert advice and support differs (or is not offered at all), audit protection differs, in-person support (if needed) differs, data import differs, and so on.

So, what I’ve tried to do in this tax software comparison review is give you a quick and easy cost comparison breakdown of all federal and state e-filing costs, key feature comparison, limitations, and even a few special links with the largest available discounts (in the “Link to Best Promo Discount” row below and the “Tax Software Discount Coupon Promo Codes” section below that), so that you can get the cheapest tax software prices (or even free offers) available.

Here’s my comparison of the best and cheapest tax software prep programs available online:

Comparison of the Best & Cheapest Tax Software Prep Programs Online:

H&R BlockTurbotaxTaxSlayerTaxActFreeTaxUSACash App Taxes
Link to Best Promo Discount:Get 25% off H&R Block hereGet TurboTax hereGet TaxSlayer hereGet 20% off TaxAct hereGet a free FreeTaxUSA federal return hereGet a free Cash App Taxes federal & state return here
Cost of Federal Returns (Current Standard Prices, Before Discount):Free: $0
Deluxe: $29.99
Premium: $49.99
Self-Employed: $84.99

"Online Assist" (live tax expert supported) versions:
Basic: $39.99
Deluxe: $69.99
Premium: $109.99
Self-Employed: $149.99
Free: $0
Deluxe: $59
Premier: $89
Self-Employed: $119

"Live" (live tax expert supported) versions:
Basic: $0 (if filed by 3/31/22) or $79
Deluxe: $119
Premier: $169
Self-Employed: $199
Simply Free: $0
Classic: $17.95
Premium: $37.95
Self-Employed: $47.95
Free: $0
Deluxe: $24.95
Premier: $34.95
Self-Employed: $64.95
"Free" (includes Basic, Advanced, Premium, Self-Employed): $0
Deluxe: $6
Free
Cost of State Returns (Current Standard Prices):Free: $0
Deluxe: $36.99
Premium: $36.99
Self-Employed: $36.99

"Online Assist" (live tax expert supported) versions:
Basic: $0
Deluxe: $36.99
Premium: $36.99
Self-Employed: $36.99
Free: $0
Deluxe: $49
Premier: $49
Self-Employed: $49

"Live" (live tax expert supported) versions:
Basic: $0
Deluxe: $54
Premier: $54
Self-Employed: $54
Simply Free: $0
Classic: $36.95
Premium: $36.95
Self-Employed: $36.95
Free: $34.95
Deluxe: $44.95
Premier: $44.95
Self-Employed: $44.95
Free: $14.95
Deluxe: $14.95
Free
Comparison of Features Per Version:Click here then "Compare Filing Options"Click here then "More Details"Click here then "Learn More" next to each productClick here then "Details" under each productClick here to review1 version for all filers
Free Federal Available to:All filers, limited scopeAll filers, limited scopeAll filers, limited scopeAll filers, limited scopeAll filers
All filers
Free Federal Scope Limited To:Basic/simple 1040 filing. See product description for details.Basic/simple 1040 filing. See product description for details.Basic/simple 1040 filing. See product description for details.Basic/simple 1040 filing. See product description for details.All forms, with a few exclusions. Cash App Taxes excluded forms
Free State Available To:All filers, limited scopeAll filers, limited scopeAll filers, limited scopeN/A, state filing is $34.95 per returnN/A, state filing is $14.99 per returnAll filers
Free State Scope Limited to:Basic 1040, with few additional formsBasic 1040, with few additional formsBasic 1040, with few additional formsBasic 1040, with few additional formsN/A, state filing is $14.99 per returnAll filers
Ability to Have a Tax Pro Review Your Return Online:Yes, with "Tax Pro Review" versionsYes, with "Live" versionsNoNoNoNo
Office Locations:YesNoNoNoNoNo

The Cheapest Tax Software Prep (& Free Tax Software Prep):

If your goal is strictly to find the cheapest tax software available, I recommend 5 above the others:




  1. H&R Block
  2. TurboTax
  3. TaxSlayer
  4. TaxAct
  5. Cash App Taxes (formerly “Credit Karma Tax”, now owned by Square/Cash App)

Each have at least 1 “free” or “basic” version that offers free filing for both federal and state returns (note that TaxAct charges $34.95 per state filing). The scope of these free tax prep offerings can be limited, however, as it usually only covers a simple 1040 filing, with W-2 income and a handful of added forms. H&R Block, TurboTax, TaxSlayer, and TaxAct also allow you to start with a version and upgrade later to a more robust version that covers everything you need, without having to re-enter all of your information. Look at the product descriptions to take your best guess on where to start and go from there.

free tax software

I really don’t recommend jumping at something just because it is “free”, on the surface. Make sure you do your homework to find the best fit. Here’s just a sampling of what the “free” versions of tax software often do not cover:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • HSA contributions/withdrawals
  • Itemized deductions
  • Mortgage interest deductions
  • Charitable contributions
  • Investment income
  • Landlord rental income
  • Self-employment income
  • Business income

Those are commonly used forms by many tax filers. The IRS Free File Alliance (see more in my cheap or free ways to e-file post) also connects to you many of the free versions I highlight in this article, but they typically have state, age, and income restrictions and can also be limited in the forms that they cover. Also, note that both H&R Block and Turbotax are no longer participating in the Free File Alliance. Furthermore, you may not be able to transfer to an upgraded paid plan (if needed), without reentering all of your information. If you have a simple return, the free versions in this article are just as good, don’t come with the restrictions, and are easily transferred to upgraded versions, if needed. Of course, you could always try to go the Free Fillable Forms route too, but I would not advise it. ;-)

Tax Software Discount Coupon Promo Codes

If you’re looking to pay for whatever tax software is the best fit or you’ve used before, here are some discount coupon promo codes to utilize, in order to get the best price if you need to upgrade to a paid version later on in the filing process. I have affiliate partner relationships with a number of these tax software programs, and they have provided me with special discounted pricing to offer to my readers that is the best you will be able to find anywhere, automatically applied by using the links below (for a limited-time only).

  1. H&R Block: 25% off at link on paid versions (this is an exclusive discount for 20somethingfinance readers)
  2. TurboTax: discounts have ended for this year on paid versions
  3. TaxSlayer: discounts have ended for this year on paid versions
  4. TaxAct: 20% off at link on paid versions
  5. Cash App Taxes: free to use (formerly “Credit Karma Tax”, now owned by Square/Cash App)
  6. FreeTaxUSA: lowest price at link on state e-file
  7. Liberty Tax: $10 or $15 off, varies by paid online version
  8. eSmartTax: $10 or $15 off, varies by paid online version
  9. E-file.com: 30% off at link

The Best Tax Software Prep:

Cheapest is not always best – particularly when it comes to something as essential as filing your taxes.

If you have a more complex return and want the most robust programs and support, the best tax software options are

  1. H&R Block
  2. TurboTax
  3. TaxSlayer

All offer:

  • the broadest feature sets of all tax programs
  • they cover up to every possible form, with upgraded versions
  • data imports
  • prior year returns
  • accuracy guarantees
  • audit support (included or as an add-on)
  • live chat support
  • the ability to have a tax expert personally review your return (at H&R Block and TurboTax only, for an added charge)




And if things get real crazy, H&R Block even has office locations for in-person reviews and support. You can also check out my free guide on how to do your taxes to get your basics squared away in preparation for filing your return.

Happy tax filing to all!

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