Generally, the sooner you fork over cash, the less you’ll have to cough up. Deep discounts for desktop software have begun to dry up, and the price to file using a web app is gradually rising. (For online apps, you pay when you file, not when you first begin your return.)
To help you get the best prices, we’ve combed through the listings for the two most popular programs out there—TurboTax and H&R Block, which are available through multiple channels—and will continue to do so until April 15.
Prices current as of April 9, 2019.
Best TurboTax discounts
As one of the most familiar names in tax software, TurboTax justifies its following by offering a solid set of tools with an attractive and easy-to-follow interface.
For the moment—and in contrast to previous years—you’ll pay the same price for the desktop versions, regardless of whether you buy a downloadable copy or a boxed disc. That means you won’t need to fumble around for an external DVD drive if your system lacks one.
Currently Amazon is one of the best retailers to buy TurboTax from: Not only is it matching the lowest prices available, but it’s also bundling in a free one-year subscription to Quicken Starter Edition 2018 with any purchase of TurboTax 2018.
Tip: If you live near a Costco and can install from disc, brave the crowds to buy your copy of TurboTax. The in-warehouse discount is typically better than what you can get through Costco.com.
You can read up on what’s included in each edition of TurboTax (be it the desktop or online versions) on Intuit’s website.
† Includes a free 1-year subscription to Quicken Starter Edition 2018
You can only access TurboTax online through Intuit’s website, but we’re tracking the prices here as a reference.
$0 for Free Edition, for basic filers
$60 for Deluxe, which is what most tax filers will use
$80 for Premier, for filers with rental property or investment income
$120 for Self-Employed, for anyone running a personal business that isn’t a corporation; this version is compatible with QuickBooks Self-Employed
(For filers who also want a tax professional to look at their return before filing)
$80 for Basic
$120 for Deluxe
$170 for Premier
$200 for Self-Employed
State taxes cost an additional $45 per filing for Deluxe, Premier, and Self-Employed across TurboTax and TurboTax Live. For TurboTax Live Basic, a state filing is $35.
Best H&R Block discounts
Best known for its many storefronts, H&R Block holds its own against TurboTax’s better feature set by providing access to live tax professions online. It also offers the option to see someone in person at a local H&R Block offices, though you’ll have to fork over extra cash for that.
Amazon is your best bet for a discount on H&R Block tax software—unless you’re die-hard about buying software on discs or loathe the ever-growing retail behemoth. Its prices on digital downloads of software are considerably lower than the competition.
(Its bonus offer of a 5 percent refund bonus is a more questionable benefit, as you have to choose to receive at least a portion of your Federal refund on an Amazon.com gift card.)
Be aware that unlike TurboTax, H&R Block does not include a state filing with its more expensive versions. Only the mid-tier “Deluxe + State edition” includes it.
You can read about what’s included in each edition of H&R Block’s software (be it the desktop or online versions) on the company’s website.
† Amazon is offering a 5 percent refund bonus if you choose to receive at least a portion of your Federal refund on an Amazon.com gift card.
Though you can only access H&R Block online through the company’s website, we’re tracking the prices here as a reference.
$0 for Free Online, which covers a basic 1040 filing
$50 for Deluxe, which includes itemized deductions
$70 for Premium for those with special income needs, including contract work and rental income
$105 for Self-Employed Online, if your return includes self-employment or small business income
$145 for Tax Pro Review, if you’d like a tax pro to review, sign, and e-file for you
State tax filings cost an additional $40 per state for Deluxe, Premium, Self-Employed Online, and Tax Pro Review.
Alaina Yee is PCWorld's resident bargain hunter—when she's not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she's scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.