The 4 Best TurboTax Alternatives

The first few years I filed my taxes, I used Intuit’s TurboTax.

Back in the early 2000s, there weren’t too many options. There were almost no free options.

TurboTax walked me through all the questions, imported my payroll data, and checked my federal tax return for common mistakes and errors — all for free. I had a very simple return but their process made me feel like I had done them correctly. To their credit, or perhaps because I had such a simple return, I was never audited!

Today, there are many options out there and some of them are very good and extremely affordable (if not free).

If you’re looking for an alternative or replacement for TurboTax, here are some of your best options that offer an improvement on what TurboTax offers.

Table of Contents
  1. Cash App Taxes
  2. FreeTaxUSA
  3. TaxSlayer
  4. H&R Block
  5. TurboTax Is Still Good
  6. Why Only These Four?

🔃 Updated January 2024 with new pricing for this year.

Cash App Taxes

Cash App is best known as the convenient payments platform and in November 2020, they acquired Credit Karma Tax. Cash App has kept everything the same, except for the name, including historical tax returns if you used them previously.

Cash App Taxes is absolutely free for federal and state taxes. They offer everything you get with TurboTax Online (auto-import W2, earned income and child tax credits, 1099-DIV, and 1099-INT forms).

They also offer these, which the free version of TurboTax Online doesn’t:

  • Mortgage interest deduction
  • Property tax deduction
  • Other itemized deductions
  • Schedule B: Interest & dividend income
  • Schedule C: Profit or loss from business
  • Schedule D: Capital gains and losses
  • Schedule E: Rental property income
  • Schedule SE: Self-employment tax

You also get their Audit Defense feature, also for free. Once you file your return, one of the pages of your tax package will include instructions and a voucher code you can use for audit defense with Tax Protection Plus, which is a third-party provider. TurboTax also comes with free audit support, or you can upgrade to full audit representation for a fee.

What I like most about Cash App Taxes is that there is absolutely no up-sell. They either do it for free or they cannot do your returns at all. They don’t play games where they take all your information and then tell you “oops, sorry, you have to pay to get that.”

Who can’t use Cash App Taxes?
If you need to file more than one state return, you can’t use Cash App Taxes because they don’t support it. This includes:

  • Multiple state returns: If you earned income in more than one state and have to file multiple returns
  • Part-year state returns: Where you or your spouse lived in a state for only part of the year
  • Nonresident state returns: If you earned income out of the state of residency
  • Married filing separately in community property states
  • Form 1040-PR for self-employed persons resident in Puerto Rico
  • Filing state taxes without filing federal taxes

Here’s the full list of forms they do not support, which includes a lot of more esoteric forms (Schedule J, Income Averaging for Farmers and Fishermen) but some more common ones (Schedule K-1 – Estate or Trust Income).

Read our full review of Cash App Taxes.

Learn more about Cash App Taxes

FreeTaxUSA

FreeTaxUSA logo

FreeTaxUSA is similar to the free version of TurboTax Online but it also includes the forms needed by self-employed persons, rental income, K-1 forms (from an LLC, partnership, or S-Corp), or needed to take the home office deduction.

Best of all, you can import the previous year’s tax return from TurboTax, H&R Block, or TaxAct so you aren’t starting from scratch.

FreeTax USA offers free federal income tax returns but they charge a $14.99 fee for e-filing state income tax returns. If you have a more complicated tax situation and can’t use their free version, the Deluxe version costs just $7.99. The big difference between the Deluxe and Free versions is support. With Deluxe, you get live chat and priority support.

With FreeTax USA, can also upgrade to Pro Support for $39.99, which is personalized advice from a tax expert via phone, live chat, or screen share. In comparison, TurboTax’s Live Assisted program regularly starts at $89 and goes up in price depending on the complexity of your filing.

FreeTax USA also offers Audit Defense for $19.99, for help if you’re audited. TurboTax, on the other hand, comes with an audit support guarantee, which includes free one-on-one guidance if you’re audited. Or you can upgrade to Audit Defense, which is full representation, for a fee.

There is one drawback to FreeTaxUSA: they don’t import data from payroll processors or banks. Many other tax preparation services can offer this (usually because they pay for it) but with FreeTaxUSA you’ll need to upload a PDF of your W-2 or 1099-INT. If you have stock transactions, you’ll have to manually enter them.

All in all, for slightly more complicated tax returns, you can’t beat FreeTaxUSA.

Read our full review of FreeTaxUSA.

Learn more about FreeTaxUSA

TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer is one of the most affordable tax preparation packages because their price is based on the level of support you need in completing your taxes — not the functionality you need.

If you have a complex tax situation, other services will charge you more than if you have a simpler tax situation. With TaxSlayer, you pay based on how much help you need from TaxSlayer, so a complex tax situation and a simple tax situation will cost you the same if you don’t need much support.

By comparison, TurboTax’s base pricing is also set according to how much support you need but then varies depending on how complicated your taxes are.

TaxSlayer offers four packages, with affordable pricing that’s lower than TurboTax:

  • Simply Free – $0 for federal and state. This is for the simple tax situation where you earn less than $100,000, have no dependents, don’t itemize, and don’t have investments, rental income, or a business; you also don’t take the earned income tax credit.
  • Classic – $22.95 for federal, $39.95 for state. This will work for almost everyone else (free for active-duty military) who doesn’t need much support.
  • Premium – $42.95 for federal, $39.95 for state. This is the same as Classic but you get priority phone and email support, audit assistance, and access to tax professionals (unlimited).
  • Self-Employed – $52.95 for federal, $39.95 for state. With this version, you get access to professionals who specialize in self-employment.

Read our full review of TaxSlayer.

Learn more about TaxSlayer

H&R Block

H&R Block has been around for ages and in many minds, they are interchangeable with TurboTax except for the color schemes. In many respects, they are quite similar with similar pricing schemes too.

Both companies have a free basic version that can support taxpayers with child and dependent care expenses, student loan deductions, and earned income credit. The one key difference is TurboTax’s free plan does not include unemployment income.

Depending on your tax complexity, TurboTax may be the more affordable of the two. With H&R Block, you select one of three plans, all of which have a set rate, as follows (note that these are discounted rates on offer as of publishing):

  • Deluxe – $35 for federal, $37 for state. This includes everything available with the free version but also adds health savings accounts, itemized deductions, freelance, gig work, and other self-employment income.
  • Premium – $65, for federal, $37 for state. This includes capital gains and losses, rental property income, cryptocurrency sales, and freelance and contractor income
  • Self-Employed – $85 for federal, $37 for state. With this version, you can claim expenses such as a home office deduction, business asset depreciation, and travel and entertainment.

TurboTax, on the other hand, sets its pricing depending on how much assistance you need. From there, its starting rates (from free to $39 as of publishing) increase with complexity. If you want support but don’t have complicated taxes, TurboTax’s tiered structure may be a cheaper option. Alternately, if you know you have very complicated taxes, H&R Block’s set rate may be more wallet-friendly than TurboTax’s add-ons.

Finally, if you want to talk to a person, H&R Block has offices you can visit whereas most of the other companies on this list are online only.

Here’s a head-to-head comparison of H&R Block vs. TurboTax.

Learn more about H&R Block

TurboTax Is Still Good

This article is about all the alternatives if you don’t want to use TurboTax but for the price, TurboTax is still one of the best tax preparation packages out there. It still offers good value even as you get up into the more complex and expensive versions. I know sometimes we try to cut costs when possible but there are instances where you can’t escape it. If you have a complex situation, TurboTax is much cheaper than an accountant!

The free version for simple returns covers quite a bit. You qualify if you only have W-2 income, limited interest and dividend income, claim the standard deduction, and only claim the earned income tax credit and child tax credits. It’s only when you add itemized deductions, business and MISC income, stock activity, and the other schedules that it becomes more expensive.

Finally, if you want a live tax expert, they offer TurboTax Live and on-demand expert consultations. A real certified public accountant will review your return, as if you walked into an accountant’s office to have them check it out.

Why Only These Four?

A list of four alternatives seems short and you may be wondering why I only list Cash App Taxes, FreeTaxUSA, TaxSlayer, and H&R Block. It’s because I didn’t see some of the other (unlisted) companies as being that much better or different. These are also the ones that I’ve had experience with.

TaxAct is an alternative but doesn’t offer a significant improvement in any area over TurboTax. I don’t know a lot about LibertyTax, other than they have a lot of offices similar to H&R Block, but their Simple Tax Return (which is similar to others on this list) costs $49.95.

If you have an alternative I should consider, let me know!

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a forty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and farms in Illinois, Louisiana, and California through AcreTrader.

Recently, he's invested in a few pieces of art on Masterworks too.

>> Read more articles by Jim

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  1. Dividend Portfolio says

    Nice write-up JW. I use Turbo Tax, but I’ve noticed it keeps getting more expensive every year – although that seems to have more to do with my tax circumstance than anything. It never hurts to have alternatives, especially for more simple returns. But for me, Turbo Tax is adequate, and as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    I use Credit Karma to check my credit report and score. It might be a while before I trust them to also do my tax returns. I’m sure they are good, but I just don’t see them that way.

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