Skip to main content

TaxAct vs TurboTax: Which One Is Better?

Published March 2, 2021

3 minute read

Cora Walker

By Cora Walker

With as much as our lives have changed over the last year, it can be difficult to remember major obligations. But driver’s licenses need to be renewed, you could receive a summons for jury duty, and tax season still comes around. This can be a stressful time, and most earners may turn to tax prep software, so let’s look at a head-to-head for the two most popular brands on the market today: TaxAct vs TurboTax.

It’s no secret that tax documents can be dizzying. This is understandable; most of us only think about taxes once a year. It’s not like we are reading tax documents all the time unless we are tax professionals.

Some applications help make this yearly requirement a little more user-friendly. Instead of requiring you to decipher deductions and decode what lines or forms you need to fill out, they frame each point as a question. There’s less room for confusion and less room for big mistakes.

We’ll compare these two brands, their strengths, weaknesses, and when you’re probably better off springing for a CPA.

Prices for TaxAct vs TurboTax

Both TurboTax and TaxAct start with free versions. For a majority of earners, this could be all you need. TaxAct charges a $19 fee for state taxes, while TurboTax also offers a free state tax option as well. Note that this is only for the simplest returns with minimal deductions. This is true of both tools.

Both companies have “Deluxe” and “Premier” level packages. TaxAct’s Deluxe package is about $75 compared to TurboTax’s $120. Likewise, TaxAct offers their Premier-level service for $95 while TurboTax charges $170.

Freelancers may also notice a steep difference. Self-employment taxes are naturally more complicated, and people who contract are often short on resources even though they may need the most aid from tax pros. TurboTax charges $200 for self-employment taxes with live support, compared to TaxAct’s $139 for professional assistance.

Beyond the most basic tier, TaxAct wins out if the price is your primary concern.

Customer Experiences for TaxAct vs TurboTax

Price isn’t everything. As part of your research process, it’s important to look up reviews from other users. You’re the one paying money, so making sure others were satisfied with their purchase will help give you a better understanding of which option is right for you. Consumer Affairs is one place to look and see how a product is scoring with other people.

A quick note that while they both have a score of around 4.75 stars, it’s important to note that TurboTax has about 800 reviews, while TaxAct has under 200.

Professional reviews are also important decision-making tools. A 2019 article from Consumer Reports noted that while both TurboTax and TaxAct have good information, support, and user experience, they are both prone to having out-of-date explanations for some tax law changes. This isn’t really a surprise since tax laws can shift significantly year to year, but it is something to keep in mind if you’re seeking to use either one of them.

When to Reach Out to a CPA

With as difficult as it can be to navigate tax season, prep and compliance software is clearly very useful (and—if you’re like me—can help bring down your panic level). But if you have particularly high wages or a large portfolio of investments, we recommend you consider seeking out an accounting firm. We can’t lie, prices can be a bit steeper, but it will be worth it, in the long run, to help prevent major errors.

Audits are a huge drain on resources. Tax prep software like TaxAct and TurboTax are useful tools, but CPAs have extra certifications, training, and experience to help manage large accounts. If you are juggling things like small business ownership, trusts, estates, real estate holdings, or other high-yield investments, you should probably be seeking out a professional accountant. Professional accountants can also help you strategize throughout the year to minimize the hit you take during tax season.

In Conclusion

TaxAct has less name recognition but comparable performance. However, TurboTax still has a 100% free option and TaxAct does not.

Taxpayers with the most complicated returns should pay a CPA. But if you aren’t hung up on the brand and have fairly straightforward returns with a couple of special deductions or minor investments, TaxAct is a great option that could save you some money.

online tax return software


Cora Walker


Cora is a Northwest-based writer and editor who wants to make information as accessible as possible in the internet age. Video games are this writer’s primary vice. With a degree from the University of Washington as well as 5+ years of experience in web writing and publishing, Cora is here to share financial tips from experts and talk about good habits.

Explore Taxes


What Are The New 2021 Tax Brackets?

Each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) updates their marginal income tax rates. In other words, they issue new tax brackets for the year ahead to reflect the ongoing impact of inflation. For 2021, there are seven income tax brackets in the United States: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%. These will be […]

Read More about Post Title

6 minute read


Payroll Tax Deferment Guide: Everything You Need to Know

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law. It’s a $1.9 trillion bill that extends many forms of federal assistance for businesses impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Two of the provisions found in the ARPT are the employee retention credit and the employer payroll tax deferral. These provisions are […]

Read More about Post Title

3 minute read


Reasons Why Your Tax Refund is Delayed

The Internal Revenue Service is currently swamped. Despite that admission, you might still be anxiously waiting for your expected tax refund. The IRS says they have already processed more than 91 million individual returns from 2020. Additionally, more than 68 million refunds have already been issued to taxpayers. However, the agency is still holding more […]

Read More about Post Title

9 minute read

See All In Taxes

More from WalletGenius

Home Ownership

How To Win a Home Bidding War

I haven’t really talked about this publicly before, but we had to win a bidding war to buy our house last year. To make matters worse, it was right before the onset of the pandemic, making everything that much more stressful. Luckily, we succeeded and my family now enjoys living in a bigger, newer home. […]

Read More about Post Title

10 minute read

young couple redecorating a house Home Ownership

How To Redecorate Your House On a Budget

I’m not sure if it’s because everyone has been stuck inside due to the pandemic or just a coincidence. Whatever the reason, it seems like everyone I know has recently been updating their homes. Whether it’s a minor or major redecoration, all this time indoors has spawned a bunch of amateur interior designers. If you’ve […]

Read More about Post Title

7 minute read

Woman at Farmers' Market Save Money

How To Save Money Shopping At The Farmers’ Market

Buying from a road-side produce stand or a locals farmer’s market is an amazing experience. They are some of the best options for getting fresh (and often organic) fruit, vegetables, meats, and other products, while still supporting local farmers. Farmers’ Markets are certainly a better choice for fresh, high-quality, in-season produce. The prices there are […]

Read More about Post Title

7 minute read

stock market short seller Investing

How to Short a Stock: A Complete Guide

I first learned about short selling from my Dad. It was in the dot-com crash of the early 00s, when practically every investment was going down. Many people lost their savings because they plowed too much money into ridiculously-valued tech stocks. Looking back in retrospect, these stocks were already so high that they had no […]

Read More about Post Title

11 minute read

Trusted provider of accurate rates & financial information