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Tax Software Choices

Picking the best tax software for your needs.

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    TURBOTAX--

    Pros: The ability to electronically import information from employers and financial institutions cuts the time it takes to prepare your taxes by as much as 50% and reduces errors. Cons: TurboTax can cost up to $90 depending on your needs.

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    H&R BLOCK--

    Pros: At the beginning of the program, H&R Block provides a comprehensive list of all the forms you may need to file your return, which will help you get organized before you start plugging in numbers. Cons: Block allows users to import information from some W-2s and financial institutions, but its list isn’t as comprehensive as the one provided by TurboTax.

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    TAXACT--

    Pros: Anybody can prepare and e-file a federal tax return free with TaxAct. The Ultimate Bundle, including free federal and state returns, costs only $17.99. Customers can use the free version to get help via email or online chat; if they want to talk to a tax expert on the phone, they must pay a one-time fee of $7.99. Cons: TaxAct has limited import capabilities. You’ll likely have to type in information from some of your W-2s and all of your 1099s. The guidance isn’t as comprehensive as with TurboTax or H&R Block and assumes an understanding of tax laws that some users may not possess.

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    TAXSLAYER--

    Pros: You can prepare, e-file and print a federal tax return free. Active-duty members of the military can prepare and e-file federal and state tax returns free. Customers who take advantage of the free federal version will pay $23.90 to file a state return. Cons: TaxSlayer doesn’t provide as much support as some of the other programs. If you want to talk to an expert, you must submit your question via email. In addition, TaxSlayer can’t import most financial documents.

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    If your 2013 adjusted gross income was $58,000 or less, you can prepare and e-file a federal tax return free via the IRS Free File program. In most cases, you’ll have to pay to prepare and e-file a state return. Taxpayers who make too much to qualify for Free File but have simple returns may be eligible for free programs offered by the major software providers.