Best Tax Software For Early Filers [December 2023]

[ad_1]


best software for early filers
Are you searching for the best tax software for early filers? If you know you’re getting a tax refund, you may want to file your taxes sooner than later.

Three out of four Americans receive an annual tax refund from the IRS, and with the average refund worth around $2,300, it makes sense to want to get your taxes done as early as possible.

Many tax filers use their final pay stub of the year to file their tax return in late December or early January. However, there are drawbacks to filing your taxes too early. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of filing taxes early and our picks for the best five tax software choices for early filers in 2024.

This year, our top choices for early tax filing are
TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxHawk, TaxAct, and TaxSlayer. You can read our full list of the best tax software.

How Early Can You File Taxes In 2024?

Americans can start mailing their tax returns on Jan. 1, 2024, and e-filing officially opens later in January. Based on prior years, we estimate that the IRS will begin accepting e-File around January 23, 2024. This is to file tax returns for the 2023 tax year.

People hoping to get a jump on filing can start preparing their returns by late December using their chosen tax software. However, most people shouldn’t start working on their taxes in December or January. Even if you need that refund, here are reasons to hold off on doing your taxes until February or later.

  • Tax Forms Not Available Until January or Later: Businesses typically send out W-2 forms to employees and 1099-NEC forms to contractors in mid to late January. They’re legally due to you by Jan. 31 at the latest. You can start your taxes and come back to fill in details as they show up in your mailbox or inbox, but it’s more efficient to sit and enter everything at once, and it may also help you avoid errors. For investments, you may not get tax forms until February or later.
  • Tax Saving Contribution Deadlines: Most tax filers can make contributions for prior year retirement plans until the tax due date or when you file your tax return. If you hold off until April, you have a few more months to make tax-advantaged contributions to your IRA, Roth IRA, and HSA accounts and cut your tax bill.
  • Amended Returns: If you make a mistake or a tax form arrives late, you can always update your taxes with an amended return. However, this is time-consuming, and many tax apps charge extra for amended returns. If you wait, you’re more likely to have everything you need to avoid mistakes.

In most situations, we suggest holding off until late February to do your taxes, but you can sign up and enter your personal information today. By signing up for your favorite tax software early, you may be able to lock in a deal with a lower price before they increase closer to tax day.

Another option for early filing is a tax refund anticipation loan or tax advance loan. You can see our full guide to tax refund anticipation loans here. Due to fees and interest costs, it’s best to wait until you get your refund if you can.

Smart Reasons To File As Early As Possible

While filing too early is problematic, filing as early as possible makes sense in most situations. That means you’ll need to determine when your tax information will arrive to make the best decision.

  • Get your refund faster: Many people receive thousands of dollars. This refund can be especially welcome after a year of underemployment or limited income.
  • Identify expected tax forms: When you start work on your tax return early, you can figure out whether you’re missing forms. Tracking these down by the deadline is much easier when you have plenty of time and a good list of what you need.
  • Reduce identity theft risk: Someone else may file a fake tax return to claim a fraudulent refund using your Social Security number, but they can’t once you’ve filed your tax return. Early filing is a small added protection against identity theft.
  • Estimate what you owe: If you’re self-employed, run a side hustle, or bring in any other income outside of work, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise if you find you owe money this year. Filing earlier gives you more time to put the money together to make a payment by the IRS deadline in April.
  • Avoid the stress of last-minute filing: It’s stressful to line up at the post office or struggle against the deadline on your computer on the tax due date. When you do your taxes early, you’ll have plenty of time to finish and give them a second review to ensure your filing is error-free.

Getting a jump on collecting and entering that information can help you file as early as possible. Savvy tax filers keep a paper folder at home and a digital folder on their computer or cloud drive to gather their information in one place, so it’s all readily available when they want to file.

What You Can Expect If You File Early

Some taxpayers with simpler taxes have all the information they need to file their taxes by mid-January. If you’re an early filer, you can expect importing functions and other “bells and whistles” to be available when your forms are available. Early filers can typically e-file their federal returns a few weeks after the start of the new year.

If you file in early January with tax software, your tax return will be among the first sent to the IRS for processing, putting your refund at the front of the line. You can watch our Tax Refund Calendar to see when your tax refund will arrive.

State filing, unfortunately, isn’t always as quick and easy. Each tax software company opens state filing on different dates as they’re ready to process those states’ returns. The companies must update all 50 states, which can take some time. If you live in a state with big tax law changes this year, you can expect delays in state filing.

In some cases, state filing options may open as early as mid-January, while others could be delayed until March. Remember that users can e-file their federal returns before filing their state returns, but it’s easier to do both at once rather than file your federal first and have to return later for your state taxes.

Comparing Tax Software For Early Filers

For early filing, all major tax software providers have options. We narrowed down these five competitors as top options for early filers in 2024. To compare the leading tax software for early filers, we judged the following criteria:

  • Ease of use
  • How much of the software is available in mid-December
  • Pricing
  • Technical issues

Note that all tax software undergoes frequent updates. Many missing pieces are expected to be released before Christmas, but some may not be ready until mid-January.

You can read our detailed reviews here:

TurboTax Review
H&R Block Review
TaxAct Review
TaxHawk Review
TaxSlayer Review

Header

Early Tax Software Comparison: TurboTax
Early Tax Software Comparison: H&R Block ONline
Early Tax Software Comparison: TaxAct
Early Tax Software Comparison: TaxHawk
Early Tax Software Comparison: TaxSlayer

All income, credit and deduction sections worked, but states are still delayed.

Schedule C (Self-Employed income) doesn’t work yet. State filing will not be ready until late December. Importing not available until January.

All income, credit and deduction sections worked. State filing planners are ready, but software updates will continue through January.

All income, credit and deduction sections worked. State filing will not be available until the end of January

All income, credit and deduction sections worked. State returns are not currently available.

Do You Need To Sign Up To Try?

Free

$0
Deluxe

$69
Premier:

$129
Self Employed: $129

Free:

$0
Deluxe:

$35
Premium: 

$60
Self Employed: 

$85

Free:

$0
Deluxe:

$24.99
Premium: 

$34.99
Self Employed: 

$64.99

Free:

$0
Deluxe:

$7.99
Pro Support: 

$44.99

Free:

$0
Classic:

$34.95

Premier: 

$54.95

Self Employed:

$64.95

Free:

$0
Deluxe:

$59
Premier:

$59
Self Employed 

$59

Free:

$0
Deluxe:

$37
Premium:

$37
Self Employed: $37

Free:

$39.99
Deluxe:

$44.99
Premium: 

$44.99
Self Employed: 

$44.99

Free:

$0
Classic:

$39.95

Premier: 

$39.95

Self Employed:

$39.95

Cell

Top Choices For Early Filers

Early filers choose to start filing early for different reasons. We’ve ranked the top filing options based on features early filers often seek.

Best For Fast Refunds: TurboTax

TurboTax offers early refund options for e-filers using their software. You can get up to $4,000, depending on the size of your tax refund. The minimum tax refund to get an advance is $500.

The money will be deposited into your Credit Karma Money account. This is only available until February 15, but that makes sense because your normal refund would only take 21 days by the time tax season opens.

Easiest To Use: TurboTax

This year, TurboTax retains its title as the easiest software overall and the easiest for early filers. The user interface helps users easily navigate between various forms and requirements, and users can switch sections in a couple of clicks.

TurboTax offers the most robust integration and form upload features to avoid manual data entry.

Best Low-Cost Option: TaxHawk

TaxHawk offers excellent functionality at a very low price. Early filers, even those with complex filing situations, can complete their federal filing for free.

State filing costs $14.99 per state. TaxHawk is an excellent option for experienced filers who don’t want to upgrade just because they have daycare expenses or an HSA.

Best Value: H&R Block Premium and TaxSlayer Classic

H&R Block Premium and TaxSlayer Classic are both high-value picks. H&R Block Premium is ideal for side hustlers, landlords, and anyone with an active stock trading account. The software is incredibly easy to use, especially given the competitive pricing.

Try H&R Block Premium >>

TaxSlayer Classic gives users access to every major tax form, so even complex filers can use it. The software is also easy to use and full of great knowledge articles. TaxSlayer’s biggest drawback is a lack of support for W-2 or 1099 imports.

Try TaxSlayer Classic >>

Final Thoughts

It’s important to remember that this guide is our earliest snapshot of tax season and what software is available. We’re not even able to test some tax software options until early January. However, we know that many Americans want to file their taxes as early as possible.

If you’re racing to claim your tax refund, these options should meet your needs. For more in-depth reviews, check out our YouTube tax software reviews here.

[ad_2]

Leave a Comment