What's the best alternative to Turbo Tax?
March 9, 2015 12:05 PM   Subscribe

Simply stated- TurboTax is a scummy company with a checkered past that always makes me feel weird using it. Surely there has to be a spritely, young up and comer in the tax game? My taxes are pretty simple- I have a few 1099s, perilously little income and student loans out the wazoo. Nothing too weird. What else is out there?
posted by GilloD to Work & Money (20 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
TaxAct has served me well for several years.
posted by soelo at 12:05 PM on March 9, 2015 [10 favorites]

If your taxes are relatively simple then I would say the best alternative to TurboTax is the IRS. The forms aren't difficult, they've dumbed down the math so there's hardly anything to calculate and you could do them on paper in pretty much the time it takes you to research alternatives to turbotax, buy, download, and do your taxes on said alternative. You might have to then mail them in which means waiting longer for your refund, but that's just waiting time, not doing time.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:10 PM on March 9, 2015 [6 favorites]

We have used TaxSlayer.com for our taxes the last 3 years and we like it. Federal filing is free and state is ~$25.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 12:16 PM on March 9, 2015

I've been using HR Block online for over a decade now: no problems, always easy.
posted by General Malaise at 12:17 PM on March 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

This review of US tax software has TurboTax as its top pick, but does address the unpleasant stuff Intuit's done over the years and suggests alternatives.

I usually go through the whole thing with two or three of the different websites to make sure things are coming out consistently, and then submit for free with the IRS/state tax division forms. (Definitely check your state's tax website to see what free filing options they offer; some states have agreements with different tax-doing websites.)
posted by asperity at 12:24 PM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

I've used TaxAct for the past 8 years and did a comparison one year with Turbo Tax and another year with a CPA and results were the same.
posted by IpsoFacto at 12:37 PM on March 9, 2015

I used TaxAct this year, but found it a bit confusing in comparison to TurboTax in certain areas. I'm glad that I did my return through TurboTax first to compare to my TaxAct results.
posted by acidic at 12:40 PM on March 9, 2015

posted by achrise at 12:43 PM on March 9, 2015

Nthing Tax Act. TurboTax (as acidic said) is often slightly more clear so what I've been doing the last few years is actually putting my numbers into both (to make sure everything lines up), but only filing with Tax Act.

Another thing you may want to do is check your local credit union--mine will help you file your taxes for free which is nice.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 12:59 PM on March 9, 2015

We use H&R Block online.
posted by matildaben at 1:05 PM on March 9, 2015

H&R Block. Buy it from Amazon on sale as a digital download. Don't buy the State add-on unless your state taxes are crazy complicated.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:27 PM on March 9, 2015

I don't think you would find any ethical companies in the domain, but I have used TaxAct past few years and was happy with the results. Cost for Federal + State is around $16
posted by WizKid at 1:29 PM on March 9, 2015

I used TaxAct this year and really liked it.

However, you may qualify for the IRS Free-File program. Many states have similar programs, although different thresholds.
posted by susiswimmer at 1:37 PM on March 9, 2015

If you are concerned about ethics, H&R Block may not meet your criteria either. I've always found their commercials to be misleading. That post has an article at the end comparing various programs.
posted by soelo at 1:39 PM on March 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I've used FreeTaxUSA for the last two years, and as scammy as the name makes it sound I like it a lot. It's super straightforward, very cheap (I paid about 20 bucks for combined federal and state with add-ons for audit protection and the like), and very good about not trying to upsell you.
posted by Itaxpica at 1:50 PM on March 9, 2015

For several years, I have used the Free File Fillable Forms produced by an IRS-industry partnership. You can submit them online. It works pretty well, especially if the basic outlines of your tax situation change little year-to-year, because you can use last year's forms as a guide to filling out this year's.
posted by grouse at 4:28 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've used TaxSlayer for 3 or 4 years now. I hate their advertising, but I haven't had any problems with my taxes.
posted by COD at 6:54 PM on March 9, 2015

It seems that you're in California. You can use Calfile for the state and free e-file.
posted by notned at 10:10 AM on March 10, 2015

Nthing the IRS. They even have helpful, courteous support staff waiting by the phone - no, really!
posted by IAmBroom at 6:35 PM on March 10, 2015

Response by poster: I ended up using TaxSlayer. I ran through TaxAct and found it kind of daunting- I had one W2 and one 1099 and not a lot of special needs. TaxAct was asking for all kinds of stuff I didn't have on hand, I felt like it was pushing me to deduct. In the end, the TaxAct total was about $200 less than the TaxSlayer total, but I felt like I was doing some real guesswork for a bit.

Tax Slayer felt like the right level of complication for me and I found the interface to be much friendlier. I paid $26.97 for my state return in addition to federal.

There were a ton of guilt-trippy upsells (I had to click "No, I do not want to protet my assets!" at one point) and social share buttons, but they were avoidable enough.
posted by GilloD at 3:29 PM on March 30, 2015

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