It is tax season again and many people will be looking to find out how to file taxes and for the right places to go to ensure it is done correctly. We will be looking at eight of the best tax preparation services to help you with your taxes. Let’s get started.
What are Tax Preparation Services?
Tax preparation service companies are a place to go for help with filing your tax return. A tax professional can help with tax forms, calculate your adjusted gross income, and let you know what deductions and credits you are eligible for, making your experience quicker and much less confusing.
Choosing the Best Tax Preparation Services: Our Methodology
Choosing the right tax preparation service is crucial for small business owners and entrepreneurs, as it can significantly impact their financial health and compliance. Here’s our methodology for assessing tax preparation services, using a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most important:
- Accuracy and Compliance (5/5):
- Track record of accurate and compliant filings
- Knowledge of current tax laws and regulations
- Guarantees or assurances against filing errors
- Cost and Value (4/5):
- Transparent pricing without hidden fees
- Competitive rates for the level of service provided
- Value for money considering the services offered
- Range of Services (4/5):
- Comprehensive service offerings (e.g., federal, state, local, and international taxes)
- Additional services like tax planning and financial advice
- Specialization in relevant industries or tax situations
- Ease of Use and Accessibility (4/5):
- User-friendly interface for digital services
- Availability of in-person assistance where necessary
- Accessibility for people with disabilities
- Security and Privacy (5/5):
- Robust measures to protect sensitive financial data
- Compliance with privacy regulations and best practices
- Clear and trustworthy privacy policies
- Customer Support (4/5):
- Availability and responsiveness of customer support
- Quality and helpfulness of tax professionals
- Support options (phone, email, live chat, in-person)
- Technology and Tools (3/5):
- Utilization of up-to-date software and technology
- Availability of tools for easy document upload and management
- Integration capabilities with accounting software
- Reputation and Reliability (4/5):
- Positive reviews and testimonials from clients
- History of reliability and trustworthiness in the industry
- Professional accreditations and certifications
- Turnaround Time (3/5):
- Efficiency in completing and filing tax returns
- Timely updates and communication throughout the process
- Ability to handle urgent or last-minute filings
- Educational Resources (3/5):
- Provision of resources to help clients understand their taxes
- Availability of workshops, webinars, or informational content
- Guidance on tax-saving strategies and financial planning
By meticulously evaluating each tax preparation service against these criteria, we aim to provide small business owners with reliable and effective options that can handle their tax needs with precision and care.
Where is the Best Place to Get Your Taxes Done?
Whether you want to do your own taxes or would like to get the help of tax professionals there are some really great options to choose from. At the top of our list is H&R Block with great prices, easy-to-use online services, and a plethora of locations that easily make it the best overall.
Jackson Hewitt’s services are the easiest to use and offer lots of tools to make filing a breeze. If you like to do your taxes online from the comfort of your own home then Turbo Tax Live is a fantastic option to get your taxes done right.
Small Business Deals
Last but not least is Ey TaxChat, an online tax preparation service that is especially good for the self-employed tax filer. We will learn more about these options and a few others in the following sections.
The 8 Best Tax Preparation Services
We have compiled a list of the 8 Best Tax Preparation Services and online tax software that offer comprehensive assistance with filing your taxes. These services provide reliable support from an experienced tax pro who will help small business owners and individuals insure that their return is accurate and up-to-date with all deductions and credits available.
1. H&R Block– Best Overall
Heading our list for best overall tax service is H&R Block. H&R Block was started in 1955 by two brothers and has grown to over 12,000 locations worldwide. It has multiple services to choose from, the best tax software, and competitive prices that will take care of all your individual or business income tax preparation needs.
H&R Block Pros
- Affordable pricing starting under $100
- Maximum refund guarantee
- Thousands of locations to provide accessible services
- Various tax services are available
- Offers free tax advice to filers using online services
- Offers a free file option for simple tax returns
H&R Block Cons
- A certified public accountant may not be available to help you
- More complex filings come with higher prices
H&R Block Pricing
H&R Block offers transparent pricing. A tax professional will walk you through all the forms you will need, provide free tax advice, and advise you of any fees so that you know how much you will be spending before you even begin.
|State Return Fee (per state)
|Prices vary based on requirements
2. Jackson Hewitt– Ease of use
Jackson Hewitt is a tax preparation service that is known for being one of the easiest services to use. This reputable service was started in 1982 and now has over 6,000 locations across the US. They offer a variety of different tax filing and preparation services for both individuals and businesses.
Jackson Hewitt Pros
- Better Business Bureau accredited with an A+ rating
- Various options such as dropping off your paperwork or uploading it online
- Walk-in preparations available
- Thousands of Jackson Hewitt office locations including some located inside Walmart
- Early Refund Advance Loan available
Jackson Hewitt Cons
- Does not offer a free filing option
- Not all tax professionals are CPAs
Jackson Hewitt Pricing
Jackson Hewitt’s pricing is not clear and easy to find on their website.
|Online Filing (State and Federal combined)
|In-person Professional Assistance
|Prices vary (case-by-case basis)
3. Turbo Tax Live– Overall Best Online Experience
Turbo Tax Live is a top tax preparation service that offers an easy and convenient online filing experience. It was launched in 1993 by Intuit and has been rated as the best online tax service on multiple occasions and is one of the best tax software for small business owners.
Turbo Tax Live Pros
- Accredited by the Better Business Bureau with an A- rating
- Allows you to file your taxes online or using a mobile app for an easy and accessible experience
- In-depth question and answer guidance available 24/7 with real accountants
- Instant refund estimates
Turbo Tax Live Cons
- If you are self-employed and are filing with one or more states it can become pricy. Turbo Tax Live is probably not the best tax software for small business filers.
- You are unable to go into a physical location and speak with someone in person
4. EY TaxChat-Best for Self-Employed
EY TaxChat is a top tax preparation service that is completed via your computer or phone and is the best for freelance income filers and small business owners. It was launched in 1986 by Ernst and Young and has a great reputation for high-quality tax services.
EY TaxChat Pros
- Ability to speak with a tax preparer who will be able to help you understand the meaning of standard deduction, explain things on your state tax websites that are not so clear, or help to file your side business taxes.
- Easily send documents using your computer or electronic devices
- Get paired with a professional who will be able to help you with your specific tax needs
EY TaxChat Cons
- Can be pricier than other competitors
- No option to speak with someone face to face
EY TaxChat Pricing
Pricing for EY TaxChat begins at $199 and will vary depending on each individual’s needs.
Cash App Taxes is a top tax preparation service that offers a fast and easy way to get your taxes done. This app was originally Credit Karma and Cash App bought out the tax service that is now Cash App Taxes. It is a fast and easy way to get your taxes filed online.
Cash App Taxes Pros
- File online via your mobile device
- A free base price and state tax filing fee
- Get your refund two days earlier by having your refund deposited directly into your Cash App account
- Offers a guarantee to get you the maximum refund possible
Cash App Taxes Cons
- Not all states are able to file through Cash App Taxes
- This is not the best choice for those who have more complex tax needs
Cash App Taxes Pricing
Cash App Taxes are always free no matter what your situation.
TaxSlayer originated in Agusta, Georgia in 1965 as Rhodes-Murphy & Co. It started as a tax preparation service and has changed a couple of times over the years and is now an affordable software for the average everyday tax filer.
- Free federal tax filing for all active duty military with no restrictions
- Affordable filing options for your individual needs
- Simply Free is a 100% free option for filers with simple tax situations. With this option federal tax filing is free as well as the first state filing.
- No early refund loan services
- Not good for individuals that want free tax services with high income
TaxSlayer offers four tiers of pricing for different tax needs.
|Most simple tax returns
|Standard tax returns
|Tax filers with more complex situations
|Access to a team of professionals; ideal for those with self-employed tax needs
7. Liberty Tax
Liberty Tax is a tax preparation service that was founded in Virginia Beach, Virginia in 1997 and serves individuals and small businesses. In the US and Canada, there are over 2,500 branches and they have received several accolades over the years for their exemplary service.
Liberty Tax Pros
- App available for remote filing
- Do your own taxes online and utilize the virtual customer support team
- Brick-and-mortar locations available for more personal filing experience
- No free filing option for simple tax returns
- Does not offer 24 hr support
Liberty Tax Pricing
|Itemized deductions without complexity
|Itemized deductions plus income from self-employed business
|More complex tax situations
In 1998 TaxAct was founded and has helped many individuals and businesses file their own taxes digitally, regardless of their tax situation. This online software is also equipt with many tools to make filing easy for any tax filer.
- Downloadable app to file taxes via mobile devices
- Free advice available from a live tax expert
- Access to free tools that make filing your taxes easier
- No physical location
- Possibility of technical problems occurring with the software
|Simple federal returns
|Federal loans or claiming children; most popular choice
|Filers with investments
|Reporting personal and business income; most comprehensive package
Tax software designed for small businesses streamlines the often intricate process of preparing and filing income tax returns. Here’s a deeper look into the world of tax software:
- Types of Tax Software:
- Form-Based Software: This type primarily focuses on providing digital versions of tax forms. Users input their data directly into these forms, which often replicate the appearance and structure of the paper counterparts.
- Interview-Based Software: Instead of directly filling out forms, users answer a series of questions. Based on these answers, the software determines which forms to use and automatically populates them.
- Key Features:
- E-filing Services: Allows users to electronically submit their tax returns, ensuring quicker processing times and receipt confirmations.
- Document Storage: Stores important tax-related documents, like W-2s or 1099s, in a digital format, which can be beneficial for record-keeping and future reference.
- Credit and Deduction Suggestions: The software analyzes user data to recommend tax credits and deductions that the taxpayer may be eligible for, ensuring they get the maximum refund possible.
- Audit Protection: Some software provides features that either decrease the risk of an audit or offer support in the event one occurs.
- Multi-state Filing: For businesses operating in multiple states, certain software offers the option to file in various states seamlessly.
- Benefits for Small Businesses:
- Cost-Effective: Using tax software can be significantly cheaper than hiring a tax professional, especially for businesses with straightforward finances.
- Time-Saving: Automated calculations and form population reduce the time spent on manual data entry.
- Accuracy: The risk of errors is minimized as the software automatically performs calculations and checks for common mistakes.
- Year-Round Access: Most platforms offer access throughout the year, allowing businesses to input data, track expenses, and adjust financial strategies as needed.
- Complexity: While software can handle a variety of tax situations, businesses with particularly intricate finances might still benefit from consulting a tax professional.
- Updates: As tax laws and regulations change, it’s essential to ensure that the software is regularly updated to remain compliant.
Maximizing Tax Benefits: Tips for Small Businesses
In the intricate landscape of small business taxation, unlocking the full potential of tax benefits can significantly bolster financial health and growth. Navigating this realm requires a blend of strategic planning and astute awareness of the tax advantages available.
Here are some essential tips for small businesses aiming to maximize their tax benefits:
- Stay Informed on Tax Deductions: Regularly updating your knowledge about the ever-evolving tax deductions is critical. This includes understanding deductions related to home office expenses, business travel, and equipment purchases. Leveraging these deductions can substantially lower your taxable income.
- Consider Retirement Plans: Investing in retirement plans like SEP IRAs or Solo 401(k)s not only secures future financial stability but also offers immediate tax benefits. Contributions to these plans are typically tax-deductible, reducing your current taxable income.
- Utilize Tax Credits: Tax credits are a powerful tool as they directly reduce your tax bill. Credits may be available for certain business activities like hiring new employees, implementing environmentally friendly practices, or research and development efforts. Staying informed about these opportunities can lead to significant savings.
- Employ Effective Accounting Strategies: Accurate and efficient accounting practices lay the foundation for maximizing tax benefits. This includes meticulous record-keeping, which simplifies the process of claiming deductions and credits, and ensures compliance with tax laws.
- Seek Professional Advice: The complexity of tax laws often necessitates professional guidance. Collaborating with a knowledgeable tax advisor can unveil hidden tax-saving opportunities tailored to your specific business scenario.
- Leverage Tax Software: For businesses handling taxes internally, utilizing advanced tax software can simplify the process and ensure accuracy. These tools often come equipped with features that highlight potential deductions and credits.
- Plan for Tax Payments: Effective tax planning involves setting aside funds for tax payments throughout the year. This proactive approach prevents cash flow issues and potential penalties associated with late or insufficient tax payments.
- Understand Industry-Specific Benefits: Different industries often have unique tax incentives. Understanding and leveraging these industry-specific benefits can lead to considerable tax savings.
Is it Worth Going to a Tax Preparer?
Tax season can be quite a headache, and many people wonder if it’s worth going to a tax preparer for help. The answer is yes! It may cost more money to hire someone for professional tax assistance, but the time and effort saved in the long run can be well worth it.
A tax preparer typically has extensive knowledge of the tax code and tax deductions such as self-employed taxes, which they can use to maximize your return or minimize what you owe if you are facing an audit. Tax preparers also have access to the latest software updates that make tax filing quicker and easier, meaning less stress for you during this busy time.
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed with managing your finances during tax season, a professional tax preparer could be just the thing to help make things simpler.
Who Should Use a Tax Preparation Service?
Any small business owner or self-employed individual who needs help filing their taxes should consider using a tax preparation service. These services can help with everything from calculating and claiming tax deductions to filing your taxes on time. They also offer expert advice and guidance that can help you minimize your tax liability and maximize your refund. Here’s a more detailed overview to help you decide whether a tax preparation service is right for you:
- Small Business Owners:
- Manage complex financial transactions.
- Need to navigate various tax laws specific to businesses.
- Can benefit from identifying potential deductions related to business expenses.
- Self-Employed Individuals:
- Handle fluctuating income levels.
- Need to consider self-employment taxes.
- Can take advantage of specific deductions like home office or business mileage.
- Individuals Needing Assistance with Calculations:
- Want assurance in accurate tax computations.
- Require help with calculating deductions and credits.
- Seek to avoid potential errors that can lead to penalties.
- Those Seeking Timely Filing:
- Want to ensure taxes are filed before the deadline.
- Seek help in organizing and managing necessary tax documents.
- Wish to avoid late-filing penalties.
- Taxpayers Wanting Expert Advice:
- Aim to understand the nuances of tax laws.
- Seek guidance on minimizing tax liability.
- Want to maximize potential refunds.
- Individuals with Complex Financial Situations:
- Have multiple sources of income, including investments or rental properties.
- Have undergone major life changes like marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child.
- Need to navigate inheritance or estate taxes.
What is the best free tax software?
If you are looking for free tax help and free filing for simple tax returns then H&R Block’s free version is the best choice for you. You will not only be able to file your taxes quickly and easily online but will have access to online tax help and it is all completely free.
Which online tax service gives the biggest refund?
Turbo Tax and H&R Block come pretty close when it comes to which online service gives the biggest tax refund. This is mostly because they are both used by a lot of small business owners who can claim many different deductions on their taxes. Often they will be owed money due to overpayment of taxes as well which also pads their expected refund. Finally, both services provide a maximum refund guarantee for their services.
How much does it cost to have someone else prepare your taxes?
The cost of having someone else prepare your taxes can vary from $100 and up. Usually, it starts with how they price their services and whether they charge a flat rate or charge for individual items. Additionally, factors including your location, the complexity of your taxes, and software costs will also influence how much you will pay. More complex tax situations come with a higher price tag.
How Is a Tax Preparation Service Different From Tax Preparation Software?
While tax preparation software can help you prepare your taxes, it does not offer the same level of expertise and guidance that a professional tax preparation service can. Tax services are staffed by tax professionals who are experienced in dealing with all aspects of tax filing and have the knowledge and resources to help you get the most out of your return.
Tax services typically offer additional services like document storage and e-filing that are not available with tax preparation software. The decision to use a tax preparation service or software comes down to your needs and preferences as a taxpayer.
How long does it take for a tax preparer to do your taxes?
The time it takes for a tax preparer to complete your taxes will depend on a number of factors, including the complexity of your return and the efficiency of the tax preparation service. A professional tax preparer may be able to complete and file your taxes in as little as a few hours, or it may take several days or weeks depending on your needs and situation.
Truly, the best way to find out how long it will take for a tax preparer to do your taxes is to consult with a tax professional directly.
Should I hire a tax preparation service or use tax prep software to do it myself?
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to whether you should use a tax preparation service or software. Both options offer benefits and drawbacks, and the right choice will depend on your personal situation, budget, and preferences.
Some factors to consider when deciding between a tax prep service and software include the level of expertise and support you need, the complexity of your taxes, and the cost. In the end, it all depends on your individual needs.
How much can a small business make before paying taxes in the US?
According to the IRS, small businesses in the US are typically required to pay taxes on any income earned above $400. Other factors that may impact your tax liabilities, such as expenses, deductions, and credits, may also affect the amount of taxes you owe.
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