Taxes can be overwhelming and confusing, even for the well-versed.
Luckily for most people, there are tax software providers that make the process faster, cheaper, and easier than finding and working with a tax pro in person. “Most of the software out there do a very good job at helping people navigate through filing,” said Luis Rosa, CFP and founder of Build a Better Financial Future financial planning firm in Las Vegas.
But it isn’t for everyone. If you have a more complex tax situation, you may want to involve a professional, Rosa said. Maybe you engaged in multiple real estate or crypto transactions, or sold a business, or you have self-employment income. With the IRS cracking down on tax compliance this year, it’s important to make sure your taxes are filed correctly, and a tax professional help you maximize any eligible deductions or credits. Working with a tax professional can cost anywhere between $200 to $1,000 or more, depending on the complexity of your taxes.
These are our top picks for every type of tax filer.
Best Tax Software of 2022
Compare the Best Tax Software of 2022
|Tax Software Company||Best for||Plans||Federal Filing Price||State Filing Price||Customer Support|
|TurboTax||Most People||Free Assisted: Basic Deluxe, Premier, Self-Employed Full Service: Basic, Deluxe, Premier and Self-Employed||– $0 to $89*|
– $0 to $169 for TurboTax Live*
– $169 to $359 for Turbo Tax Live Support*
|$39 to $49*||Phone and email support. TurboTax Live add-on connects you with a tax pro via chat or screen share.|
|FreeTaxUSA||Simple Returns||– Free|
|$0||$14.99||Email support and live chat as part of the Deluxe add-on.|
|Cash App Taxes||Free Federal and State Filing||Free||$0||$0||Access to app, chat, or phone support.|
How Does Tax Software Work?
Tax software automates the tax preparation process. Instead of filling out paper forms by hand and doing the math yourself, the tax software does it for you.
There are typically two types of formats when it comes to tax software: a form-based step-by-step guide and an interview-style questionnaire. Many find the latter helpful because it can help taxpayers identify what is relevant to their tax situation and what is not. Four of our picks for tax software – H&R Block, TurboTax, FreeTaxUSA, and TaxAct — have a question-and-answer format, while Cash App Taxes has a straightforward fill-in-the-blank format.
Generally, tax software can help you avoid mistakes, stay organized, and save you huge amounts of time versus filing on your own. For example, if the tax software automatically imports your W-2 or 1099, you don’t have to keep track of the paper copies of those documents or spend time putting in the number. Tax software programs are often programmed to catch errors, and your tax returns and any other relevant tax documents are often saved automatically within your account for easy access and download.
Many tax software programs also offer access to tax experts who can provide guidance, answer questions, or review your tax return’s accuracy before filing. Keep in mind there’s no guarantee that online tax software support services will connect you with a licensed tax professional, such as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), unless otherwise stated.
Should I Hire a CPA?
Whether you should hire a tax professional depends on your tax situation. If you have a complicated return — for example, you’re a business owner, or you have rental income or traded crypto — consider skipping tax software altogether and finding a tax professional.
“The trickier your return gets, the less the software can help you if you don’t know what you’re doing,” said Michele Cagan, CPA and author of “Debt 101.” A tax pro may be able to reveal tax breaks that even the best tax software might not catch.”
Sheneya Wilson, a CPA and founder of Fola Financial, agreed and said as soon as you “trigger the alphabet,” meaning IRS Schedule A, B, C, or so on you should hire a tax pro. The IRS typically requires you to include a tax schedule along with your tax return when claiming certain types of income or deductions.
How Much Does a CPA Cost?
Hiring an accountant to do your taxes is typically more expensive, but it could save you time and stress if you have a complicated tax situation.
The average cost for a tax pro to prepare and submit a Form 1040 and state return with no itemized deductions is $220. That number goes up to over $300 if you have an itemized Form 1040 with a Schedule A and a state tax return, according to a survey from the National Society of Accountants (NSA). If you own a business, expect to pay even more. Accounting firms charge around $900 on average for Form 1120S, a required tax form if you own a S corporation, the survey shows.
When Are Taxes Due in 2023?
You have a few months until the final deadline to file your taxes, and the IRS typically starts accepting tax returns in late January. Most states have the same deadline as federal taxes, but some states don’t, so be sure to check with your state tax agency. As you prepare to file your 2022 taxes, here are some important dates to mark on your calendar:
- Jan. 16: Fourth quarter 2022 estimated tax payment due
- Late January: First day you can file federal tax returns
- Jan. 31: Deadline for employers to send Form W-2, Deadline for companies to send various 1099 forms (1099-NEC, 1099-MISC, and 1099-K)
- Feb. 15: Form W-4 “exempt” status expires. Last day to update form W-2 to maintain exempt status.
- April 3: Required minimum distribution due if you turned 72 in 2022
- April 18: Last day to file your 2022 tax return, request an extension, make IRA and HSA contributions, and pay taxes owed. First quarter 2023 estimated tax payment due
- June 15: Second quarter 2023 estimated tax payment due
- Sept. 15: Third quarter 2023 estimated tax payment due
- Oct. 16: Due date to file if you request and are granted an extension