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If you’re looking for the biggest refund, there is no one best tax software. They should all get the same refund because they can’t change the tax laws or what you did last year. Still, some software might be easier to use or have better features for your tax situation.
What’s the best tax software?
Turbo Tax, TaxAct, TaxSlayer, Liberty Tax, and H&R Block (affiliate links) are among the most popular tax preparation software providers. You can find more by visiting the IRS free file page during tax filing season. Even if you don’t qualify for free file, most tax preparation software companies will be listed there.
The best tax software is the software that’s easy for you to use and has a low cost. When an Enrolled Agent or CPA does your taxes, they can add value by helping you plan ways to reduce your future taxes, so it can make sense to pay more to hire an expert. Tax software is basically just a helpful calculator.
If you have a basic 1040 with just a W-2, almost any software will do. If you have investments, real estate, or self-employment income, you should check reviews that mention what you need. Some software provides more detailed explanations about these topics that can help you avoid mistakes. Other software may not handle the forms you need and leave you to figure it out on your own. In addition, one provider might have what you need in their basic tier, while another might require a more expensive upgrade.
Does different tax software give you a bigger tax refund?
Your tax software or human tax preparer can only get you the refund you’re entitled to under the law. No one can promise you that they can get you a bigger tax refund than someone else.
However, making a mistake or missing something could cause you to pay more taxes in error. That’s why it’s important to pick easy-to-use software with good reviews for the type of tax return you need to file.
Can tax software guarantee you the biggest refund?
Some tax software companies guarantee you that no one else will find you a bigger refund. The fine print is that it’s based upon the information you enter.
If the software developer coded something wrong and the software didn’t calculate your taxes properly, the guarantee applies. If you skip a question, don’t see a question, or answer a question incorrectly, the guarantee doesn’t apply — even if you didn’t understand what the software was asking.
How can you get a bigger tax refund?
There are very few ways to increase your refund once tax filing season starts. That’s because your tax return is based on what you did last year. The most common option to reduce your refund is to increase your retirement contributions before April 15th.
Some people prefer to increase their income tax withholding or estimated tax payments to get a bigger refund as a way of forced savings during the year. However, this is giving an interest-free loan to the government.
If you want a bigger refund, you should ask an Enrolled Agent or other tax professional for planning help to find ways to increase your deductions or credits in the upcoming year.