Here are our Top 4 tax prep options – and advice for picking the perfect one for your finances.

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Asking yourself what is the best tax software this year?

Americans are expected to file more than 155 million tax returns between now and the April 17 deadline. According to researchers, among all those who filed federal income taxes last year, nearly half used tax software to prepare their returns. With a variety of online tools out there, the question becomes: which tax software is best?

The answer: It depends…

What is the best tax software?

1. Turbo Tax

Turbo Tax has five levels of service, with prices that start at free and run up to $150. Each is tailored to different needs.

It touts the deluxe package as its most popular at $40. You must upgrade one level if you have investments and rental property, and up another level if you’re self-employed. The $150 package gets you advice from an expert or CPA on demand via video connection.

TurboTax is widely given props for having the most user-friendly software, guiding you through the landscape in a Q&A style. But it also allows you to skip all that and go straight to the forms if you’re bored or an old pro.

Pro help: Concerned about an audit? They’ll help you out, but you’ll have to pay $45 for the “Max Assist and Defend” add-on before you file.

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2. H&R Block

On top of having more than 12,000 brick-and-mortar stores nationally, H&R Block offers four online filing options, starting at free and topping out at $75, each tailored for different needs.

Its “More Zero” package is pitched to new filers, those with simple tax returns, and homeowners. The base of the paid options promises to get the most deductions, but if you are a freelancer, contractor, investor, or rental property owner, H&R directs you to the next level. Those who are self-employed or small business owners (or Uber drivers) are covered by the $75 option.

According to MoneyCrashers, H&R Block’s Free and Basic plans can handle more complicated items than their TurboTax counterparts, making them a better deal. On the downside, the same reviewer found H&R Block’s software slightly more tedious: Once you begin, you can’t skip over sections that aren’t relevant to your tax situation. You must answer all the questions to move on to the next section.

Pro help: For a price that scales up with each package starting at $49.99, you can have a tax pro review your return, checking it for accuracy and maximized results. In-person advice and information is free if you’re audited.

Pay with your refund: Yes, for a $34.99 fee.

State tax returns: Included on a price scale from free up to $36.99, depending on the software package.

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3. Liberty Tax

Liberty Tax Online is another tax-prep program with brick-and-mortar roots and thousands of branches from coast to coast. Its four options, which range from $14.95 to $69.95 depending on client needs, top out below the most expensive offerings from TurboTax or H&R Block. The big difference: Liberty has no file-for-free option, and its $14.95 base package is good for 1040EZ situations only — so in this regard, it’s pricey.

On the flip side, if you get lost in the weeds at any time, Liberty offers “seamless online-to-office transition” — so you can pop into a Liberty Tax office and meet with a real person.

Pro help: Liberty’s tax professionals are available to answer detailed questions about your taxes for a one-time fee of $4.95 if you go with the lower-priced plans. Those questions are answered for free in the higher-priced packages. If you’re audited, basic informational help is free. Advanced assistance is available for a fee.

Pay with your refund: No.

State tax returns: An additional $26.95 per state return.

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4. TaxAct

TaxAct is an online filing operation that has been around since 1998. It also has a three-tier suite of software for individual filers, ranging from free to Premium at $51. And it also offers a package for those whose tax situation involves income from an estate or trust.

TaxAct also offers a variety of packages for small and medium-sized businesses, including a program for the Sole Proprietor, Partnership (LLC), S-Corporation and C-Corporation that range in price up to $60.

State returns: Included in the free version for simple situations, costs $37 for more complex returns.

Pro help: Interested in audit defense? TaxAct advises you buy the Premium package that includes assistance with tax debt relief, denied credits, fraud, and correspondence with the IRS and state on your behalf.

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5. Biz Solutions Network – for low-cost professional tax prep

Biz Solutions Network is powered by the Tax Defense Network, a company that specializes in helping individuals get out of tax debt. Biz Solutions Network provides expert federal and state tax return filing for businesses and individuals.

Biz Solutions Network can handle the entire tax preparation process to ensure compliance. Things like quarterly estimated taxes and sales tax can be difficult to maintain on top of daily operations.

Business Filings: Prices are based on individual business needs and are obtained after a free initial phone consultation.

Pro help: Need more help and advice with running your business? Biz Solutions Network also provides bookkeeping, tax debt resolution, financing options and business advice to their clients.

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Other things to know…

These companies guarantee their software is accurate, or they’ll pay any IRS fines. They also promise to get you the most money back or ensure you owe the smallest sum possible.

All have ways to make importing W2s and other forms simple. Some require only a photo of the form, others may require you finding your employer from a long list and clicking on the appropriate buttons.

So, what is the best tax software? In all cases, you can download the software and pay only when you file. So giving more than one a try may take up some time, but it shouldn’t deplete your bank account.

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Article last modified on March 20, 2018. Published by Debt.com, LLC .