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It’s that time again… like a bad penny, Tax Day keeps turning up, year after year. For many investors, the tax filing deadline is enough to induce a headache, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There is plenty of tax software to make this annual chore a whole lot easier.
But with a bevy of tax preparation services on the market, what’s the best option for investors?
The answer to this depends on what you’re looking for. To help you decide, we’ve compared plans with some of the top tax software providers and laid out the most important features they offer. Take a look before starting your taxes this year.
Best for Features: TurboTax Premier
Owned by Intuit, TurboTax has provided tax services for nearly 40 years. Today, it offers a whole range of tax-filing products, from a watered-down freebie great for students or first-time filers to an in-depth but decidedly not free version for small business owners.
If you’re an investor, TurboTax Premier is the online plan you’d need.
TurboTax Premier Features
- Import investment info from hundreds of trading platforms and brokerages
- Report up to 10,000 stock transactions and up to 20,000 crypto transactions
- Audit assistance included
- Calculators for capital gains/losses, rental depreciation, crypto sales, and more
TurboTax Premier lets you claim income from investments including rental properties (as well as calculate depreciation), track your capital gains and losses, and take deductions for investment-related investments.
Easily import your investment sales from an investing platform – whether you’ve sold crypto, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, or all of the above – and TurboTax will crunch the numbers for you to output your capital gains and losses. It’ll also give you tips for maximizing your advantages, guide you to find deductions, and help you figure out your cost basis for employee stock. If you own rental property, TurboTax will show you how to write off different expenses.
You can file Form 1099, Schedule E, Schedule K-1, Schedules B and C, and many others.
Since you do your taxes only once each year, it’s incredibly easy to make mistakes or miss important IRS changes. TurboTax Premier will also carry results over to future years. This is particularly important if you have capital losses that exceed $3,000 and must be calculated year-over-year to be deductible.
In terms of service and support, you’ll receive Audit Assistance if you ever receive a letter from the IRS after filing with TurboTax with this plan. You can also pay for an Audit Defense Membership for help seeing your audit through.
TurboTax Premier does not include live support but you can upgrade to Live Assisted Premier for $179 to receive unlimited on-demand help or pay $369 for Live Full Service Premier to hand your taxes over to a pro.
- Federal return: $99
- State return: $59
While TurboTax Deluxe also allows you to itemize deductions and file Schedules B, C, and D, you’ll need Premier to file Schedule E. Rental property owners, that means you.
Find out more >>> Read our TurboTax review.
Best Value: TaxAct Premier
TaxAct packs quite a wallop in relation to its low price. Though it positions itself as a discount provider, its online e-filing platform is comprehensive and convenient, putting TaxAct on par with the best of them. The TaxAct Premier plan is specifically for filers with investments to track.
TaxAct Premier Features
- Free Xpert Assist included
- Stock Assistant allows for easy investment reporting
- Import past returns and data from online investment services such as Betterment, TD Ameritrade, and Raymond James
- DocVault app lets you store all your tax documents and track charitable donations
With TaxAct, everything from importing investing data to itemizing is simple. This platform includes a number of tools and resources to help you file correctly and stay organized from Stock Assistant for tracking capital gains and losses to DocVault for storing all the information you’ll need to complete your returns (including pictures of donations you can write off).
Investors will find TaxAct Premier’s importing capabilities to be especially handy. If you have complicated K-1 forms to fill, Schedule E rental property income to report, stock sales to record, and a number of deductions and credits you plan to take, TaxAct will help you import all of this to auto-fill the trickiest parts.
You may be able to automatically import capital gains and losses as well. But if you do have to enter, Stock Assistant lets you plug your stock data into a spreadsheet before populating it into your forms.
Right now, all TaxAct online plans include unlimited free Xpert Assist. This means you’ll be able to submit any questions you might have about your taxes and get a call from an expert who can take a look at your return and walk you through issues. When you’re done filing, TaxAct will review your forms and alert you about issues they catch like missing or inaccurate info.
For technical support questions, you can call during business hours or use the online chat function. TaxAct offers only a basic level of audit assistance with its online plans, meaning they’ll help you understand what the IRS needs and how to get started but will not represent you.
- Federal return: starting at $26.21
- State return: starting at $33.71
The price per state return for TaxAct Premier is a little higher than comparable sites, but $34.95 for an investor-friendly filing plan is not bad at all. The next lowest tier, TaxAct Deluxe, does not allow for investment reporting, so you’ll need at least Premier.
Find out more >>> Read our TaxAct review.
Best for Expenses and Deductions: H&R Block Premium Online
If you’re the type of investor who likes to cover all your bases and wants plenty of audit support, H&R Block Premium might be the right service for you. This platform offers many of the same features as the other two tax software programs mentioned above as well as optional audit support and representation (on top of free assistance).
For investors, we recommend the H&R Block Premium Online plan.
H&R Block Premium Online Features
- Import investment info from hundreds of trading platforms and brokerages
- Support for reporting rental property income
- Free audit assistance
- Optional paid audit representation
The Premium Online plan is backed by an accuracy guarantee, a max refund guarantee, a no surprise guarantee (which promises pricing transparency), and an audit support guarantee. Here, audit support just means basic guidance through the process, not representation from an expert. You can pay extra for that though, which is a great feature of H&R Block.
If your return is especially complicated, as it often is for investors with various assets, H&R Block helps simplify the process. You can import your investment data, answer questions about your rental properties, and use the platform’s various calculators to speed up filing and avoid mistakes when reporting your income, transactions, capital gains/losses, etc. This plan supports Schedules D, E, and K-1 and any credits or deductions an investor might need. At any time, you can live chat with tech support without paying for it.
All filers with the Premium Online plan have unlimited live tech support via phone or chat.
You can also add on unlimited help from a tax professional for an extra $115 for federal returns. With this, you’ll share your screen to show them what you’re looking at and reference specific problems.
Worry-Free Audit Support is another optional add-on worth mentioning. It costs $19.99 and means H&R Block will have your back if your return is audited. In the event the IRS audits you, H&R Block will provide an Enrolled Agent (EA) to help you prep, get organized, file any reports, and represent you throughout the entire process if you appear in person.
- Federal return: $55
- State return: $37
H&R Block is priced a little lower than TurboTax and the two platforms are very comparable. The Deluxe plan below it allows you to itemize deductions, but only Premium and Self-Employed let you report investments.
Find out more >>> Read our H&R Block review.
Best for Professional Support: TaxSlayer® Premium
TaxSlayer is a competitively-priced tax software provider with impressive features and a unique pricing structure. It also happens to be one of the best options for getting help from a tax expert, and you’ll see why.
If you have investment income, TaxSlayer® Premium is the right plan for you.
TaxSlayer® Premium Features
- Unlimited access to a tax professional for filing questions and guidance
- Three years of Audit Assistance including representation
- Priority phone and live chat support
TaxSlayer prides itself on easy, speedy filing, and most users will find this to be the case. Investors will have access to all of the forms, deductions, and credits they could possibly need (with very few exceptions) and be able to easily upload forms from other providers if they’ve used a different platform in the past. But the best thing about this online filing plan is the unlimited one-on-one support.
Filling out tax forms for investments can get confusing, especially if you don’t understand what you’re supposed to report and how. And other platforms would require you to pay more for assistance. With TaxSlayer Premium, If you run into any issues or just have a question about what you’re supposed to do or what advantages you might be able to take, both priority tech support and professional help are included in the modest price.
Although this platform’s filing process isn’t as guided as the others, it’s plenty intuitive and comes with this huge advantage.
As mentioned, this plan includes faster tech support and professional help as needed as well as IRS Audit Assistance. For up to three years after the IRS accepts your TaxSlayer e-file, the company’s team of enrolled agents (EAs) and CPAs will assist you with handling the audit.
There is no limit to how many times you can ask a question. And unlike other providers, this plan only differs from the one below it – TaxSlayer Classic – because of the added support. If you don’t feel you’ll need that, you can choose Classic and still itemize, report investment income, etc.
- Federal return: $54.95
- State return: $39.95
At this price point, it’s really surprising how much you can do with TaxSlayer.
Find out more >>> Read our TaxSlayer review.
Best Free Option: Cash App Taxes
Bet you didn’t expect to see a free version on this list, did you? For a number of reasons, Cash App Taxes – formerly known as Credit Karma Tax – is very different from the others. Not only is this provider entirely free, even for investment taxes, but it also does away with the standard model of plans altogether.
Let’s dig into how Cash App Taxes works and if it might be the right platform for you.
Cash App Taxes Features
Cash App Taxes is free for all personal tax filing at the state and federal level. Period. It doesn’t matter if you have a simple return with just a W-2 or a complex situation with investments, rental properties, and businesses. Cash App Taxes will not charge you to file and doesn’t even give you the option to pay for more.
The only “catch,” if you can call it that, is that Cash App Taxes has limitations. For example, you won’t be able to report foreign-earned income or file multiple state returns. And if you invest in a partnership, you can file a Schedule K-1 Form 1065, but you won’t be able to file a Schedule K-1 Form 1041 for an estate or trust. You will be able to itemize deductions and file Schedules A through F.
For most people, including investors, landlords, self-employed filers, and small business owners, Cash App Taxes can do everything you need just fine. But we recommend it only for confident filers who can get by without help.
In terms of support, Cash App Taxes is pretty limited. You won’t get live support from tax professionals, audit assistance, or any of the other helpful features baked into many of the other plans. What you will get is, well, free.
If you do need help, you can search for articles by topic in the help section or reach out to Cash App’s general support. This won’t be dedicated specifically to taxes, but it can provide clarification for tech issues and the like.
$0 for all filing. We didn’t need to include this section, but we didn’t want it to look weird.
Find out more >>> Read our Cash App Taxes review.
Best for In-Person Filing: Liberty Tax Deluxe
Liberty Tax is more than just some guy in a Statue of Liberty costume waving a sign around. With Liberty, you can visit an office, or you can file online by yourself or pay a pro to file for you (remotely). But one of the main things this provider has going for it is in-person support. Still, we’ll cover the best online plan for investors for self-filing.
The Deluxe plan with this provider is going to be the best fit of the three online plans available for many filers.
Liberty Tax Deluxe Features
- Optional in-person filing
- Audit Assistance included with in-store plans
- Correspondence Assistance included with in-store plans
We primarily recommend Liberty Tax Deluxe for basic investing because it’s a more stripped-down tax filing plan than the others. More specifically, it only supports Schedules A, B, and C, which is not as many options as most of the others in this review. But if your investing doesn’t go beyond basic stock trading and purchases – and you have no use for forms like Schedule E and K-1 anyway – you may appreciate the simplicity this provider offers. And you can still claim deductions and credits for your investing with this option and track capital gains.
And like many other tax filing platforms, Liberty Tax backs its services with a 100% accuracy guarantee. If you make a mistake when filing that causes you to be charged interest or fees, Liberty Tax will reimburse you.
Liberty online plans come with a maximum refund and accuracy guarantee. But if you pay for preparation instead, you’ll also receive Audit Assistance and Correspondence Assistance in the event that you’re audited. A representative will stand by you and help you make your case.
Liberty Tax has a few thousand branch locations, so you can walk in to get help at no cost to you, even after filing. Though some of the others on this list also provide the option for in-person support, including H&R Block, Liberty Tax offices are far more widespread.
- Federal return: $65.95
- State return: $36.95
For investors, the Deluxe online plan is the lowest plan you can get away with using. But if you need to fill out a Schedule E form, you’ll actually need to pay for Premium, which will cost you $85.95. For preparation services, prices vary by location and needs.
Find out more >>> Read our Liberty Tax review.
Which Tax Preparation Service Should You Use?
As an investor, any of these tax software packages will likely serve you well. It may come down to personal preference more than anything else.
But we strongly recommend using tax preparation software to do your taxes instead of filing without. Especially when you have a lot of transactions to track, there’s a lot of room for error when you prepare your taxes this way. Tax filing plans are well worth paying for whether they mean a larger refund or just less of a headache and less time. Plus, many of them offer guarantees as an added layer of protection and will check over your forms before submitting them.
To help you choose a plan, we’ve gathered up five of the best tax software programs for investors in 2023. Here’s how to know which one is right for you.
- For a feature-packed plan that will walk you through every step, go with TurboTax.
- For a well-priced option with a user-friendly platform, go with TaxAct.
- For a plan that’ll help you uncover more tax advantages, go with H&R Block.
- For a simple and affordable option packed with support, go with TaxSlayer.
- For a free option that’s great if you know what you’re doing, go with Cash App Taxes.
- And for filing in person with help from a pro, go with Liberty Taxes.
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