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According to the IRS, the average tax refund in 2020 was $1,869. To ensure the biggest refund possible, it’s important to check for every tax deduction and credit available to you. Online and mobile tax apps make this easy.  
In addition to checking for credits and deductions, some tax apps even allow for expense and mileage tracking. Each tax app takes roughly the same time to go through the tax filing process, although some apps can auto-fill certain tax forms and offer live support to speed up the process. If you want an advance on your refund, some apps offer that, too. 
We reviewed 20 different tax apps to determine the best options available. Features and costs were big considerations in our ranking. We also looked at ease of use and real customer reviews.
 TaxAct
TaxAct Express is the best overall tax app because it offers reasonable prices and a robust free package. Most apps charge close to $40 to pay for your filing fees using your tax return, but this app is just $17.99 if your refund is direct deposited.
Easily import last year’s tax data even if you used a different provider
Most robust free option out of all providers
Pay for tax filing with your refund
No expense tracking
State filing is extra, even for the free package
The user interface isn’t as seamless as other tax apps
Founded in 1998 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, TaxAct provides tax prep software that makes it easy to e-file with its TaxAct Express app. It’s available via its web interface, as well as in the App Store (4.4 stars) and the Google Play store (3.9 stars). People enjoy its competitively priced packages and the ability to pay for filing fees using their tax refund for far cheaper than other tax apps earning our top spot.
If TaxAct software makes a calculation error, it will reimburse you up to $100,000 in IRS penalties and interest. Your filing is free if you receive a higher refund using a different product thanks to its Maximum Refund Guarantee. 
Other benefits include importing last year’s tax return information by uploading the PDF—even if you didn’t use TaxAct. Plus, if you refer a friend, get a $20 Amazon gift card, and they get 20% off.
Do-it-yourself TaxAct Express packages include:
There are four packages offering live support:
 Credit Karma Tax
We chose Credit Karma as the best free tax app option because it’s 100% free from start to finish. If you have the Credit Karma app, you already have access to all of the tax filing features available. Filing is also relatively fast, provided you don’t have a complex tax situation.
It’s completely free
Import last year’s 1040, even if you didn’t use Credit Karma
Audit defense is also free if you’re a Credit Karma member, even if you use another service to file
There’s no native expense or receipt tracking feature
The maximum refund guarantee only offers a maximum of $100—in the form of a gift card
Credit Karma is a personal finance company that’s part of Intuit. Many people use it to monitor their credit score and accounts and don’t realize you can also file your taxes with it—for free. The tax filing feature is available right from the Credit Karma app. Simply click the three bars in the top right corner to get started. Otherwise, file right from its website for no cost with no upcharges, which is why it wins the spot for best free option. 
The app has over three million reviews on the App Store and has 4.9 stars. It has 4.8 stars on the Google Play store, with 1.3 million reviews. It’s one of the most popular personal finance apps available, although most of its reviews came in before it started offering tax filing. 
It’s 100% free to file for both state and federal taxes, although only 40 states are available right now. While it offers a maximum refund guarantee where you will get the difference if your tax refund is higher on another app, it will only pay up to $100 in the form of a gift card. 
Credit Karma Tax does cover self-employment and other more complex situations. However, if you have a complex tax issue or have moved states, you may need a tax app that offers tax expert support.
 QuickBooks
If you’re a business owner, it’s best to use a tax app specifically meant for your tax situation. QuickBooks Self-Employed is a tax app offering business expense tracking and tax filing. You can even make your quarterly estimated tax payments right through the app.
Track business expenses and mileage on-the-go
Authorize access for your accountant or tax advisor
Estimate what you owe the IRS and pay quarterly through the app
Easy to accidentally duplicate data between uploading and syncing transactions
Smaller banks and credit unions may not have syncing capability
Doesn’t offer inventory tracking or payroll
QuickBooks is a leader in accounting software, and its Self-Employed app integrates seamlessly with TurboTax. With this app, you can track both personal and business expenses, mileage, and you can even send and track invoices making it the best for business owners. 
It has 4.7 stars in the App Store and 3.6 stars in the Google Play store, and you can also access the app using its web interface. Some reviewers complain about glitches using the app, while others enjoy how the app allows tracking of both personal and business expenses.
QuickBooks Self-Employed doesn’t offer inventory tracking, so business owners with larger operations may need QuickBooks Online instead of the self-employed version.
There are three QuickBooks Self-Employed packages available:
 H&R Block logo
H&R Block Tax Prep and File is the best tax app for live support because it offers Online Assist, where you can receive unlimited help from tax experts 24/7 during the tax season. You can even upload all your documents into the app and have a tax professional file your taxes for you.
Starts at $39.99 to receive unlimited help from tax experts, enrolled agents, and CPAs 24/7 during the tax season
Upload your documents and a tax professional will do your taxes for you using Tax Pro Go
Save receipts, returns, donations, and other tax documents
One of the more expensive apps available because you must pay for Online Assist
No expense tracking
Peace of Mind audit support only matters if H&R Block made the mistake
H&R Block Tax Prep and File is a tax app by H&R Block, which is a tax preparation company founded in 1955 in Kansas City, Missouri. Use the app to file your taxes yourself and receive assistance from tax experts starting at $39.99, or have a tax professional file your taxes for you starting at $69, making H&R Block Tax Prep and File our choice for best online support.
Find the app in the App Store (4.4 stars) and on Google Play (4.6 stars). Otherwise, use its web interface to file your taxes. Pay for your tax filing fees by using your tax refund for a $39 fee. 
Guarantees include the following:
There are several packages to choose from:
 TurboTax
With TurboTax, you can receive up to $4,000 as a refund advance within three hours of IRS acceptance of your tax return. You can also auto-import and auto-fill data by taking a picture with your phone, so it’s perfect if you need to file fast.
Take a photo of your W2, and the app inputs the info in the right forms
Access up to $4,000 of your tax refund within three hours of IRS acceptance of your return using Refund Advance
With an Employer Identification Number, the app may be able to auto-import your W2 information without taking a photo
More expensive than most tax apps if your taxes aren’t simple
Constant upsell offers
Most packages, you need to pay additional for state filing
TurboTax is owned by Intuit, a leader in tax prep software. Using the TurboTax Tax Return App, you can file quickly thanks to the auto-fill and auto-import options in the app, making it the best for fast filing. 
You can find the app on the Google Play store (4.2 stars) and App Store (4.8 stars). You can also use the web interface, but to auto-fill information from your W2, you’ll need to upload the image. Many reviewers complain about upsells and paying far more than advertised, so pay careful attention to the pricing to know which package your tax filing will require. 
Even if you use the Free Edition of TurboTax, you’re entitled to the maximum refund guarantee. If you receive a larger refund with another app or a smaller tax burden, you will get your federal and state filing fee back. If you used the Free Edition, you’ll get $30 under the guarantee.
TurboTax offers an option to pay for your taxes using your tax refund, so you don’t pay anything up-front to file your taxes through them. However, there’s a $39.99 fee to do this. Otherwise, you can pay your filing fees with a credit card or checking account. 
With Refund Advance, filers can access up to $4,000 of their refund as an advance as soon as three hours after the IRS accepts the return. There are no loan fees, and it’s 0% APR. 
There are four TurboTax packages available on both the mobile and web interface if you’re doing the taxes yourself:
There are four packages for live support:
If you want your taxes done for you, there are also four levels of Live Full Service packages:
 You Need a Budget
Traditionally thought of as a budgeting app, You Need a Budget (YNAB) is a great tool to track your ongoing expenses. When it’s time to file taxes, simply download a comma-separated values (CSV) file to share your spreadsheet of income and expenses with your tax preparer, or you can do it yourself.
Offers video tutorials, articles, and free online courses
Available via an app and through your browser
Can sync transactions with your bank and investment accounts
Steep learning curve
No built-in tax filing—you must export a CSV file into outside tax filing software
Must manually upload transactions if your bank isn’t supported
The best way to prepare to file taxes is to be organized throughout the year. Spend a little time upfront to get your accounts set up on YNAB, and then maintain it every time you’re paid. Then, when you’re ready to file taxes, each category of income and expenses is labeled—making filing a breeze and your tax advisor happy to not have to wade through a shoebox full of receipts earning our spot for best expense reporting.
YNAB is available in both an app and web interface. Pay $11.99 per month or $84 per year, and try it out free for 34 days. If you’re a college student, it’s free for a year. At the end of your free year, YNAB offers a 10% discount on the annual plan. 
On the App Store, it has 4.8 stars, and 4.1 stars on the Google Play store. Most reviews discuss the learning curve but praise its ability to help budget and track expenses. You can take a live class seven days a week to learn how to budget with the YNAB app or access any of its tutorials anytime.
While most tax apps don’t offer expense tracking, many make it easy to file your taxes right from your mobile phone. If you have a complex tax situation, you’ll need to pay for advanced packages. However, if you’re a simple filer, almost every tax app available offers a free option that can help you. 
We recommend TaxAct Express as the best tax app because it offers reasonable filing fees, a robust free package, and the ability to pay for your filing fees from your tax return. Plus, you can import last year’s tax data even if you used a different provider.
Most tax software has a maximum refund guarantee, where your filing is free if your refund is higher using other software. However, to maximize your tax refund, take advantage of every possible deduction and tax credit offered by your software. Examples include the earned income credit (EIC), child tax credit, and home mortgage interest deduction (HMID). 
After filing your taxes using a tax app, the app electronically sends your return to the IRS. It takes the IRS anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days to match your personal information with the return.
You can check the status of your return using the IRS “Where’s My Refund?” tool. Expect to receive your refund within 21 days provided there are no errors or issues. To receive your refund quicker, set up direct deposit. If you owe money, you have until the tax filing deadline to pay unless you file for an extension. 
You do not need a mobile tax app to file your taxes. However, using a mobile app can help make filing your taxes easier. Many of these tax apps allow you to upload receipts and categorize expenses year-round, so the act of filing taxes doesn’t take as long during the tax season. 
Some mobile tax apps help track your expenses, receipts, and mileage year-round, while most only offer the ability to file your taxes. Input or upload your W2 information, check for credits and deductions, and e-file your taxes right on your mobile phone. 
We looked at 20 of the best tax apps available and narrowed it down to the best six options based on several features and considerations. We considered features, costs, reviews, and ease of use. It was important to find providers that offered a free version for simple taxes but then could evolve with solutions for those who have more complex tax needs.
IRS. "Filing Season Statistics for Week Ending January 31, 2020." Accessed February 6, 2021.
IRS. "Where's My Refund?." Accessed February 6, 2021.

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