Best Tax Preparation Companies: Top 6 Tax Prep Services of 2022

Whether you're looking for professional tax assistance or a reliable online tax software, here are the best tax preparation services for 2023.

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When tax season arrives and it’s time to file your federal and state income taxes, you’ll need the best tax preparation services or software to maximize your return. 

However, sorting through all the tax filing services and software out there can be intimidating. To help you find the best tax filer, we’ve reviewed the top tax preparation companies in the industry. Each tax service below was evaluated on a variety of factors including features, ease-of-use, user reviews, guarantee, and price. 

Whether you’re looking for professional tax assistance or a reliable online tax software, here are the best tax preparation services for 2023.

The Six Best Tax Preparation Services of 2022

#1. Liberty Tax: Best Overall

Liberty Tax has been providing Americans with tax help since 1997 with a mission to offer personalized tax preparation services from an established and trusted company. You can file taxes online or in person through Liberty Tax, making it an excellent option for people in various situations.

Liberty Tax wants to help taxpayers stop overpaying the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and get their largest possible refunds. Whether you file through Liberty Tax’s online tax software or in person at one of their offices across the U.S. and Canada, Liberty Tax will find every possible credit, deduction, and tax advantage.

Tax Services Offered

Liberty Tax offers a range of services, whether you want to do your own taxes or get help from professional tax preparers. Services include:

ITIN application: The IRS issues Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs) to taxpayers who don’t have Social Security numbers. Liberty Tax offers services for applying for and renewing ITINs.

Online tax preparation: Taxpayers can file online using Liberty Tax’s E-filing or Virtual Tax Pro systems. The latter includes help from a tax professional.

In-person tax preparation: As a brick-and-mortar company, Liberty Tax offers in-person filing for those who prefer to speak to a tax professional in person. Offices welcome appointments and walk-ins.

Costs

With three service tiers, everyone can find a tax solution within their budget. Liberty Tax tiers include:

$45.95 Basic: The basic tier supports Forms 1040 and 8853. You may opt for this tier if you’re in a simple tax situation, such as being single.

$65.95 Deluxe: The deluxe tier supports Forms 1040, 4562, 8829, 4136, 8839, and 8853. This tier serves taxpayers with more complicated situations, such as those who have children or investments or own a home.

$85.95 Premium: The premium tier supports Forms 1040, 4562, 8829, 4136, 4684, 4835, 8839, and 8853. You may opt for this tier if you have an uncommon income source, such as being a freelancer or independent contractor.

Each state return through Liberty Tax costs an additional $36.95.

Please note: All prices listed above and throughout the rest of this article are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change.

Pros

  • Services for Spanish speakers
  • Free tax advice online and in person
  • Free imports from competitor sites
  • Audit assistance
  • Simple online user interface

Cons

  • Outdated online user interface
  • Tricky navigation
  • Lack of cost tier increase warning

Click Here to Learn More About Liberty Tax

#2. H&R Block: Great Place to File Returns Online

H&R Block offers taxpayers another great option for in-person and online tax preparation services. This company has been preparing tax returns since 1955 with a mission of putting people first.

H&R Block offers in-person federal and state filing at locations in all 50 states and online filing through tax preparation software. Taxpayers in almost any tax situation can find a tax solution from H&R Block, including people with self-employment income.

Tax Services Offered

H&R Block offers comprehensive tax preparation services that include:

Online tax filing: Preparing a federal tax return online starts free (with a $65 state return fee). H&R Block’s online tax software provides an easy-to-use interface for filing tax returns online.

Virtual and in-person filing with a tax professional: If you prefer to discuss your tax documents with a professional, you can opt for in-person, phone, or virtual guidance from a tax pro.

Drop-off tax filing: H&R Block also offers a convenient drop-off tax preparation service. Customers drop off all relevant tax forms at an office location and then return to approve everything at a later time or date.

Expat tax filing: Tax filers who live overseas can file through H&R Block’s international expat services, which include DIY and professional tax assistance.

Costs

H&R Block charges base fees for specific services, state refund fees, and add-on fees. These costs include:

Free online services: Many taxpayers qualify for free online tax preparation (not including the state refund fee).

$80 expert services: Fees start at $80 for professional tax preparation. Whether the taxpayer opts for virtual, in-person, or drop-off services, this fee remains the same.

$99 expat online services: Online federal and state filing for expatriate customers who are U.S. citizens or for green card holders involve higher fees but include technical support.

$199 expat expert services: Expats who need help from professional tax preparers also pay higher fees, but this service provides a cost estimate before the tax professional gets started.

$65 state return: H&R Block charges a $65 fee for every state tax return.

The H&R Block website lists these fees as starting costs, so prices may increase.

Pros

  • Brick-and-mortar locations in all 50 states
  • Wide variety of tax preparation services
  • Excellent user interface and navigation
  • Well-designed mobile apps
  • Downloadable tax preparation software

Cons

  • High state return fee
  • Steep prices for complex tax returns
  • Required fees for professional support

Click Here to Learn More About H&R Block

#3. TaxAct: Affordable and Knowledgeable Tax Preparers

TaxAct has offered taxpayers a digital tax filing solution since 1998, becoming one of the first free tax software providers. The company aims to offer every American a convenient tax filing option, regardless of their tax situation. Whether you’re a single filer, self-employed, or a small business owner, you can file taxes online through TaxAct.

TaxAct offers an incredibly comprehensive support section on the website that includes hundreds of topics ranging from signing in to the TaxAct portal to filing online with unemployment income.

TaxAct provides two types of products: TaxAct Online and TaxAct Desktop (Download). Both enable you to prepare your tax return, and then print and e-file it. The Desktop version costs more since you can use it to prepare multiple tax returns rather than just one.

Tax Services Offered

TaxAct designed its services to provide taxpayers who want to file their own taxes with a simple online and downloadable solution. Tax preparation services include:

Online tax preparation: TaxAct offers a maximum refund guarantee for all filers who use their tax preparation software. Any taxpayer who wants to file their own taxes can find an affordable solution through TaxAct.

Self-employed tax preparation: TaxAct offers a specific plan for self-employed filers. This plan supports both personal and business income.

Sole proprietor tax preparation: Self-employed filers who own businesses as sole proprietors can file tax returns through TaxAct.

TaxAct does not offer in-person filing at physical locations.

Costs

TaxAct offers a variety of plans, including a free option for simple filers. Plans include:

Free Online Plan: If you have simple taxes and a W-2 income, file online through TaxAct’s free version. The basic desktop plan costs $39.95 to download.

$46.95 Deluxe: If you have a home loan or dependents, you’ll need the deluxe plan. Deductions include child and dependent care, student loan interest, mortgage interest, and more. The desktop version costs $119.95.

$69.95 Premier: Opt for the premier plan if you have investments. With more forms than the deluxe plan, Premier is ideal for filers with foreign bank accounts or rental property income. The desktop version costs $129.95.

$94.95 Self-Employed or Sole Proprietor: These plans offer TaxAct’s full range of services, including personalized business deductions, and provide the best tax software if you’re a small business owner or self-employed. The desktop version costs $139.95.

TaxAct charges a state refund fee of $54.95 per state.

Pros

  • Free Xpert Assist
  • Thorough online user interface
  • Downloadable software (Desktop version)
  • Simple import process from competitor sites
  • Free tax advice

Cons

  • Inferior audit support
  • Pricey state return fee
  • Questionable search results

Click Here to Learn More About TaxAct

#4. TurboTax: Best Online Tax Software

Intuit purchased TurboTax in 1993. Since then, TurboTax has become one of the most popular tax preparation services. Many taxpayers consider TurboTax the best free tax software.

TurboTax supports DIY filing through online tax software and also offers complete tax preparation services performed by tax professionals. TurboTax does not have brick-and-mortar locations, so all services are provided virtually through online portals.

Tax Services Offered

TurboTax offers a service that will suit you, whether you want to handle your own taxes or have a tax pro do it for you. TurboTax services include:

Online tax return filing: TurboTax provides user-friendly tax software for DIY tax preparation. If you have simple taxes, take advantage of free tax filing services for federal and state returns.

Online tax filing with professional tax assistance: This service allows you to ask questions and have a tax pro review your return before submitting it.

Online filing completed by a professional: This lets you hand off the job to a TurboTax expert, who’ll handle all tax preparation and keep the customer updated from start to finish.

Costs

Like many other tax preparation companies on this list, TurboTax offers its services in tiers. The pricing depends on whether the customer chooses TurboTax and TurboTax Live with professional support:

Free Edition: Many taxpayers qualify for the free version of TurboTax. If you have a simple tax return, you may choose this service to file your federal and state returns through the best free tax software. TurboTax Live’s $79 basic plan replaces the free plan if the customer wants live help.

$59 Deluxe: TurboTax’s deluxe plan offers more options for tax credits and deductions. You may opt for this tier if you have a home loan. The fee for this plan increases to $119 for TurboTax Live.

$89 Premier: This plan supports taxpayers with stocks and bonds, rental income, and other investments. The Live version costs $169.

$119 Self-Employed: This tier supports small business owners, contractors, freelancers, and other self-employed taxpayers. For live help, customers pay $199.

TurboTax charges a fee between $44 and $54 for state tax returns.

Pros

  • Straightforward user interface
  • Great customer support
  • Downloadable versions
  • Free for reserve, active duty, and National Guard
  • Versions for Spanish speakers

Cons

  • Expensive pricing for some
  • No in-person support
  • Insufficient help from mobile apps

Click Here to Learn More About TurboTax

#5. TaxSlayer: Great for Fast Tax Refunds

We couldn’t provide a list of the best tax software and services without including TaxSlayer. The parent company launched its virtual tax preparation software in 1998 and has become a favorite among DIY taxpayers. Self-employed customers enjoy bargain prices for filing federal taxes.

TaxSlayer believes that even people with complex tax situations should be empowered to file their own taxes. This online service provides free tax advice via phone and email to ensure every customer can maximize deductions and get the refund they deserve.

Tax Services Offered

Through TaxSlayer, you can:

File your tax return online: TaxSlayer supports taxpayers in all situations. You can handle your own federal and state filing, whether you have dividend income, medical expenses, business expenses, business income, or a simple tax return.

Get three years of audit defense: TaxSlayer also provides legal representation for three years to support customers if the IRS audits them.

Costs

Tax filers who want to save money on their federal and state returns choose TaxSlayer for the fantastic prices. Only simple tax situations qualify for the free version, but TaxSlayer plans offer some of the lowest prices in the tax preparation market. Price plans include:

Simply Free:  Lets you file for free with simple 1040 tax returns

$29.95 Classic: Supports all tax situations and offers a low price for maximum tax deductions and credits

$49.95 Premium: Gives you access to tax pros via live chats and priority support through phone and email

 $59.95 Self-Employed: Offers the best tax software value for self-employed filers, including live help from professionals

State filing costs $39.95 per state unless you qualify for the free version.

Pros

  • Great affordability compared to other tax software
  • Simple user interface
  • Comprehensive education resources
  • Free filing for federal taxes for active duty military members
  • Affordable state filing

Cons

  • No in-person support
  • Limited context-sensitive advice
  • No support for specific forms

Click Here to Learn More About TaxSlayer

#6. Jackson Hewitt: Best Guarantee

Jackson Hewitt has been offering tax preparation services since 1982. This company can help you file your tax return online, in person, or even while you complete a Walmart shopping trip.

With 6,000 brick-and-mortar and 3,000 Walmart locations, Jackson Hewitt offers excellent service no matter how you wish to file.

Although this tax prep company formerly charged tier pricing for online filing, it now charges a flat fee, making this one of the best tax software options for filing from the comfort of your home.

Tax Services Offered

Jackson Hewitt offers tax return preparation in person and online. The options include:

In-office filing: If you prefer to deal with a tax professional in person, you can visit one of Jackson Hewitt’s many office locations, which are conveniently open on nights and weekends.

Drop-off filing: Taxpayers can skip the time commitment of preparing their taxes by dropping off their tax documents at a Jackson Hewitt office. A tax pro will complete the tax return with no return visit necessary.

Walmart filing: Jackson Hewitt offers another convenient drop-off option at thousands of Walmart stores. Customers can drop off their documents and have their taxes completed for them while they shop.

Online filing: Jackson Hewitt offers online filing through DIY tax software and live online preparation.

Jackson Hewitt also offers tax resolution services to help taxpayers resolve issues with the IRS.

Costs

Pricing for Jackson Hewitt proved challenging to find, especially for in-person and drop-off services. We located the following price information on the website:

$25 online tax preparation: According to the website, Jackson Hewitt charges a flat fee of $25 for customers to do their own taxes from home. This price represents one of the most affordable options in the online tax preparation industry.

$59+ drop-off tax prep at Walmart: Customers who prefer to have their taxes done for them can drop off their documents at Walmart for fees starting at $59. 

We were unable to find any additional pricing information listed on the website.

Pros

  • Very affordable online filing
  • Appointments and walk-ins
  • In-person and virtual support
  • Decent mobile versions
  • Drop-off services

Cons

  • Non-transparent pricing for non-DIY filers
  • Some tricky navigation
  • Unfriendly user interface compared to competitors

Click Here to Learn More About Jackson Hewitt

All of the above tax preparation companies offer reliable and trusted services. The right one for you will depend on your tax needs, budget, and preference on how you want to file your taxes.

What Is a Tax Preparation Service?

The IRS requires the annual filing of tax returns from everyone who earns an income and either lives in the U.S. or is a U.S. citizen.

Some taxpayers use tax preparation services to file their income tax returns. These services, conducted in-person, online, or over the phone, help taxpayers prepare tax returns properly to avoid common mistakes and get the maximum refund.

For some people, getting tax preparation services means going to the local office of a certified public accountant. For others, it means going through a website or mobile app.

Virtual and in-person tax prep includes the filing of federal and state taxes. Customers who want their taxes done for them choose a tax preparation service.

What Is a Tax Preparation Software?

While tax prep services connect people with tax pros, tax preparation software allows taxpayers to file independently. Tax software from companies like TurboTax and H&R Block provides more efficient tax filing, especially for simple filers who don’t have complicated tax situations.

Tax software companies use interview- or form-based tax software to gather all the required personal finance information and provide an accurate maximum refund. The former uses a question-and-answer process, while the latter uses forms that mimic actual tax documents.

How Much Does Tax Preparation by an Accountant Cost?

The average costs of professional tax preparation depend on several factors, including the complexity of the taxpayer’s situation and how they choose to file.

According to a 2020-2021 income and fees survey of tax preparers and accountants, federal and state 1040 returns with no itemized deductions cost an average of $220 in 2020. The same tax returns with itemized deductions cost $323 in the same year.

The most expensive tax filing in 2020, as reported on the survey, was for preparing and submitting Form 706 at an average cost of $1,289.

How To Choose a Good Online Tax Preparation Software

Even with our list of the best tax preparation services, it may prove challenging to choose an online tax software for DIY tax filing. Whether you go with an option from our list or not, keep the following in mind to choose a good tax software:

Ease of Use

The best tax software provides an easy-to-use interface for convenient and efficient tax preparation. Not every tax software will use the same methods for collecting information, but a good interface will do so with easy navigation and a straightforward process.

To find easy-to-use options, prioritize products that offer:

  • Free trials so you can try before you buy.
  • Clear navigation menus so you know where to input your tax information.
  • Question-and-answer prompts that bring you to the proper forms.
  • Guidance from tax professionals via chat, phone, or email.

If you begin the tax preparation process but find your chosen service too tricky to navigate, you may decide to switch to another company. Many online tax software providers allow customers to upload tax documents from competitor sites.

Costs and Fees

The best tax software for you provides a budget-friendly option that fits your situation. For example, most tax software providers offer free federal tax filing, but these options often don’t include the same tax forms, deductions, and other services.

Try to find a product within your budget that offers:

  • Free or affordable tax preparation for your tax situation.
  • Free or budget-friendly add-ons, such as support from a tax pro.
  • Free or affordable preparation and submission for state taxes.

Keep in mind that you will likely pay higher fees for a more complicated situation.

Tax Forms and Filing Options

Depending on your situation, you will only need to prepare and file certain tax forms. The best tax software for you will provide the tax forms you need at an affordable cost. For example, many tax software providers offer Form 1040 for free, but others do not.

To find tax software that fits your needs and budget, investigate the following about your tax software options:

  • Does it offer free filing for certain tax forms? Which ones?
  • Does the free version have income restrictions?
  • What is the additional cost of filing state taxes?
  • Does it offer free customer support?

Different companies support different forms, so be sure to do your research before filing to ensure you choose an appropriate tax service.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tax Prep

Who should use a tax preparation service?

Taxpayers who need help filing their taxes can benefit from a tax preparation service, such as the in-person service you can find at companies like Liberty Tax, H&R Block, and Jackson Hewitt.

Tax preparation services handle tax return preparation and submission for you, letting you rest assured that you’ll get your maximum refund amount without navigating the sometimes confusing tax filing process.

Taxpayers with straightforward tax situations (such as 1040 filings) may not benefit from a full tax prep service. Instead, they might opt for one of the best tax software options listed above for more affordable DIY filing.

How long does it take for a tax preparer to do your taxes?

According to the IRS, the average person spends 13 hours on tax prep for a Form 1040 or 1040-SR. For more complicated tax situations, filing may take days.

This time may decrease if you choose to file online through a tax software provider. Online tax preparation often takes less time because the system can automatically upload documents and fill in all the required information (such as adjusted gross income).

If you have a simple 1040 tax return, filing online may provide a faster option.

Should I hire a tax preparation service or use tax prep software to do it myself?

Many taxpayers opt to complete their own taxes through reliable online tax software like TurboTax. You may benefit from this option if you:

  • Only have W-2 income
  • Are a single filer with no dependents
  • Worked for only one employer in one state during the tax year

Other taxpayers, such as people with investments or several income sources, benefit from using a tax preparation service with a certified tax pro. If you have a complex tax situation or need live help to file your taxes, you may choose to go with a professional service.

If you decide you would benefit from working with a professional preparer, ask candidates the following questions to ensure that you get the best possible tax prep service:

Do you have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN)?

Just as the IRS uses identification numbers to identify taxpayers, it uses PTINs to identify paid preparers. No one may charge you money for tax preparation services without a PTIN.

What is your background as a tax professional?

A tax preparer may have one or more of several credentials, including but not limited to:

  • CFP: A certified financial planner who has met the standards of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards but may not specialize in tax prep
  • CPA: A certified public accountant who has passed an exam and adhered to other state standards; they may specialize in financial planning, accounting, consulting, auditing, or business valuation
  • EA: An enrolled agent who is a former employee of the IRS or has passed a test to earn the ability to represent clients before the IRS; they also must complete continued education to remain an EA
  • AFSP: Annual Filing Season Program members who complete exams for Records of Completion, which allow them to prepare tax returns without credentials

Do you have experience with my tax situation?

The right preparer for you will have experience filing the type of tax return you need and meeting your state’s requirements. Preparers have varying levels of knowledge regarding specific tax situations, so be sure your preparer understands how to handle your return.

How do you calculate costs?

Look for a preparer who charges fees based on what the return entails, not based on a percentage of your refund. The latter encourages preparers to find tax deductions and credits that are inappropriate for your situation.

What if the IRS audits me?

Find out if the potential preparer has the proper credentials to represent you to the IRS, such as attorney, EA, or CPA credentials. Although you can use a tax pro who can’t represent you before the IRS, knowing this ahead of time proves essential if you get audited.

The Bottom Line

If you need to find a reliable and trustworthy tax preparation service or software, give one of the companies on our list of the best tax preparation services a try.

The companies featured here have proven themselves by filing millions of returns over decades of business success. You will surely find an option on our list that suits your budget and situation.

If you’re unsure which method to choose to file your next tax return, consider a consultation with one of the tax prep providers above. Some of them may even talk to you about your taxes for free.

Summary of the Top Recommended Tax Filing Companies

  • Liberty Tax: Best tax preparation service overall
  • H&R Block: Best for ease-of-use 
  • TaxAct: Best for small businesses
  • Turbo Tax: Best DIY Tax Software
  • Tax Slayer: Best for self-employed
  • Jackson Hewitt: Best for maximizing deductions

This content was not created by the Observer and does not imply any endorsement. You should consult with relevant professionals before making a decision relating to the information or products referenced


		
				Best Tax Preparation Companies: Top 6 Tax Prep Services of 2022