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With tax season upon us, it’s time to choose the best tax preparation software for you. We’ve done a side-by-side comparison of three of the most popular tax-preparation software plans in the industry: TurboTax, H&R Block, and Cash App Taxes.
We haven’t declared a hands-down winner or even provided a ranking of the three. Each has its own advantages (and disadvantages). And this means any one of them could be the right tax-preparation software for you.
The information provided in this guide should help you make that choice.
Cash App Taxes vs. TurboTax vs. H&R Block: Quick Comparison
Before we go into a deep-dive analysis of the three popular tax software plans, you can peruse the table below to learn about the basic features of each. Note that Cash App Taxes was previously Credit Karma Tax. The tax software was acquired by Square in 2020 and the name changed, but Cash App Taxes is still free.
Cash App Taxes
Cash App Taxes is best for those who have relatively simple tax situations and are looking for truly free tax-preparation software. But even if you don’t have a straightforward return, you can make this software work for you. For example, unlike TurboTax and H&R Block, you can file free even if you itemize deductions, have investment income, or are self-employed.
Cash App Taxes is an excellent choice for those who have a good handle on filing their taxes and won’t need support. But because this provider does not offer any options for live assistance, paid or otherwise, and doesn’t sell software, it’s not a good choice for anything other than DIY online filing.
TurboTax may very well be the best all-around tax-preparation software. The software is comprehensive and can accommodate virtually any type of tax situation, and it makes it easy to find deductions and credits to save more. To qualify for TurboTax’s Free Edition, you need to earn W-2 income and take the standard deduction. For simple tax returns only. Not all taxpayers qualify.
If you need to itemize or have other sources of income, you’ll need a paid plan. And it’s important to note that TurboTax has the highest prices of the three. You can also pay for full preparation services or professional support.
TurboTax is great for beginners thanks to its intuitive platform and resources and is especially great for returning customers. But this provider is not a good choice for those on a tight budget.
H&R Block is the go-to tax-preparation software for anyone looking to file their taxes with a pro. H&R Block offers excellent online plans for self-filing as well as top-notch professional services at a reasonable price.
With H&R Block’s layered tax-preparation process, you can get started with an online plan and get expert support whenever you need it or even turn the job over to a professional to finish filing for as little as $85. You can either make an in-person appointment or do it all remotely.
In addition, H&R Block also offers tax preparation services for ex-pats starting at $99 for simple returns, not including state and FBAR filing. This is unique because neither TurboTax nor Cash App Taxes provides services specifically designed for Americans living abroad. This provider offers great support but if you have a more complicated return and you don’t plan to pay for expert help, you can save money going with another company.
Pricing and Fees
Cash App Taxes: $0
Cash App Taxes does not have different online filing plans at different price points. Everything is free, whether you have a very simple return or you’re self-employed and need to report different types of income, use many forms, and take a bunch of credits.
Cash App Taxes can accommodate most tax situations. Here’s a list of just the most common types of income, forms, and credits Cash App taxes allows.
- W-2 income
- Small business earnings
- Investment income
- Rental property income
- Form 1099
- Schedules A, B, C, D, E, F, and H
- Itemized deductions
- Child Tax Credit
- Mortgage Interest Credit
- Education Credits
This list is far from exhaustive. As you can see, Cash App Taxes is equivalent to the highest tier plan with many tax software providers (usually a self-employed plan).
But you cannot pay for extra support, software downloads, or full preparation services. And one of the main drawbacks of this service compared to others is that you can’t file multiple state tax returns.
TurboTax: $0 – $89+
TurboTax offers four different online plans for filing yourself: Free Edition, Deluxe, Premier, and Self-Employed. This provider also gives you the option to have an expert file for you. This service, called TurboTax Live Full Service, starts at $169 for basic federal returns.
All TurboTax online plans come with an Audit Support Guarantee, a thorough check of your return before submitting, and customer service Monday through Friday.
Let’s go over the online plans here.
TurboTax Free Edition: $0 for federal returns and $0 for up to one state return
For simple returns using Form 1040 with W-2 income, supports standard deduction or use of Earned Income Tax Credit, child tax credits, and student loan interest deductions.
For simple tax returns only. Not all taxpayers qualify.
TurboTax Deluxe: $39 for federal returns and $39 for each state return
For more complex returns with itemized deductions including those for health savings accounts (HSAs), mortgage and property tax, and charitable donations (over 350 deductions and credits in total). Permits unemployment income.
TurboTax Premier: $69 for federal returns and $39 for each state return
For complex returns with investment income (including crypto sales), rental property income, and over 450 different deductions and credits. Includes support for calculating property depreciation.
TurboTax Self-Employed: $89 for federal returns and $39 for each state return
For most complex returns with self-employed income, forms 1099-NEC and Schedule C, and business expenses. Offers over 500 deductions and credits including self-employed tax deductions and the ability to import earnings and expenses from rideshare and delivery companies such as UberEats. This version also offers a year-round tax estimator for quarterly self-employed taxes to help you determine your income and estimate what you owe.
H&R Block: $0 – 85+
Like TurboTax, H&R Block offers four different e-filing plans starting with a free version and working up to the costliest self-employed version.
For an added price, you can unlimited, on-demand help from a tax professional. But if you have the Deluxe online plan or better, you will have access to free live tech support by phone or chat.
H&R Block Free Online: $0 for federal returns and $0 per state return
For simple returns using Form 1040 with W-2 income or Form 1099-G with unemployment income, supports standard deduction or use of Earned Income Tax Credit, child tax credits, and student loan interest deductions.
H&R Block Deluxe: $35 for federal returns and $37 per state return
For more complex returns with itemized deductions including those for HSAs, mortgage and property tax, and charitable donations. Can also be used to organize self-employed income.
H&R Block Premium: $55 for federal returns and $37 per state return
For complex returns with investment income (including crypto sales), rental property income, and more deductions and credits. Supports Schedule D and Schedule E in addition to all forms included with Deluxe.
H&R Block Self-Employed: $85 for federal returns and $37 per state return
For most complex returns with self-employed income, forms 1099-NEC and Schedule C, and business expenses. This version includes guidance for claiming different types of self-employed income and maximizing business deductions, expense-tracking tools for small businesses, and import functionality with rideshare and delivery platforms.
Unique Features of Each Brand
Free Filing: Cash App Taxes
Cash App Taxes is free for all filers for both federal and state tax returns. Here are a few more features that set it apart.
- Free Audit Defense through Tax Protection Plus, LLC – includes correspondence, preparation, and representation.
- Refunds may be deposited up to six days earlier than usual if made into your Cash App Account.
- Accurate Calculations Guarantee – Reimbursement up to $1,000 in the form of gift card(s) if the IRS or state tax authority penalizes you due to calculation errors made using Cash App Taxes.
- Maximum Refund Guarantee – Reimbursement up to a $100 gift card if you file with Cash App Taxes and receive a larger refund or owe less when you amend with another tax software provider using the same information.
Features and Software: TurboTax
TurboTax is perhaps the most popular tax-preparation software in the industry. And there are plenty of reasons why:
- Optional paid live support or preparation from tax professionals.
- Optional paid TurboTax Audit Defense for $39.99 – includes correspondence, preparation, and representation.
- Tax Return Lifetime Guarantee – Accuracy and refund guarantees carry over for up to seven years per return.
- 100% Accurate Calculations Guarantee – Full reimbursement for penalty fees and interest charged as a result of a TurboTax calculation error.
- Maximum Refund Guarantee/Maximum Tax Savings Guarantee – Reimbursement for applicable filing fees if you file with TurboTax and receive a larger refund or smaller tax due when you amend with another tax software provider.
- Satisfaction Guarantee – Don’t pay for TurboTax until you’re ready to file, even if you fill out your return.
- Import from QuickBooks Online or income information from Mint.
Live Assistance: H&R Block
H&R Block operates a vast network of local tax preparation offices and stands out for its live assistance services.
- Optional live assistance for filing on your own or having your returns fully prepared by a professional in-person or online.
- Free Audit Support Guarantee included with all online plans and optional paid Worry-Free Audit Support for $19.99 when e-filing – free audit assistance includes basic help preparing while support includes correspondence, preparation, and representation.
- No Surprise Guarantee – Save 20% when filing next year’s returns if you do not receive transparent pricing, transparent process, free audit assistance, or a free mid-year check-in).
- Maximum Refund Guarantee – Reimbursement for filing fees, plus free optional re-filing, if you discover an error that entitles you to a larger refund or smaller amount due.
- 100% Accuracy Guarantee Reimbursement up to $10,000 for penalty fees and interest charged as a result of software errors
- 100% Satisfaction Guarantee – Don’t pay H&R Block until you accept and e-file your return.
Where Each Tax Preparation Software Falls Short
Cash App Taxes
- Cash App Taxes can’t accommodate multi-state returns and doesn’t provide as much guidance for filing self-employed taxes and maximizing deductions and credits.
- You must sign up for Cash App, a free finance app for payments and more, in order to use Cash App Taxes.
- There is no dedicated support specifically for Cash App Taxes, only for Cash App in general, and live assistance is not available free or paid.
- Fewer calculators, organizational tools, and educational resources than other providers.
- TurboTax costs more than most tax-preparation software providers, even if you file completely on your own.
- TurboTax does not include free audit defense.
- TurboTax Free Edition is very basic and more limited in supported incomes, forms, and credits than other free e-filing plans.
- H&R Block is on the high end of pricing for tax prep software, though it generally costs a little less than TurboTax.
- H&R Block does not include free audit defense.
- The filing platform for this provider is slightly more difficult to use than other similarly-priced products.
Which One Should You Choose?
It really wouldn’t make sense to choose the best tax software provider for everyone between TurboTax, H&R Block, and Cash App Taxes. That’s because each will appeal to a different type of taxpayer depending on their tax situation, preferences, and budget. And really, you might find that none of these three has quite what you’re looking for.
What may be most important is realizing that you have options when it comes to preparing your own tax return. Here’s a quick summary of the strengths of each provider for different filers.
- If you want to prepare your taxes for free and don’t mind being mostly on your own, Cash App Taxes is an excellent choice.
- If you want the most intuitive and comprehensive filing platform possible and you don’t mind paying a higher price for it, TurboTax is probably your best bet.
- If you feel like you want to call in for reinforcements and pay for assistance, or even preparation, H&R Block will give you what you’re looking for.