I recently ran a poll on my YouTube channel that asked tax filers who have got their refund, or confirmation of it being paid, which tax software provider they used. Below are the result of the poll.
Obviously the poll is not a scientific study, but it does correlate surprisingly well to what I am reading, seeing, and hearing anecdotally.
Which tax software provider gets the largest refund?
They also have larger than average refunds because they offer a range of products and the highest refund generally accrue to a lot of small business owners – since they can claim a lot of deductions or tend to overpay estimated taxes.
The average tax refund is around $2,800. However this season, due to various tax breaks and small business deductions, some are seeing refunds in excess of $20,000!
Even lower income folks or those who qualify for most government credits, are seeing larger than average refunds and using a reputable online software tax provider can ensure they maximize their refund.
While refund size is important, getting it on time is even more so. Keep reading below to see which ones and factors to consider.
|TurboTax||The most headache-free option, with a very slick user interface and a variety of live support options. From the simplest to the most complex return, TurboTax probably has various options to cover you (see full review). Good for small business’ and self employed. It also has some great post filing support and a 100% accuracy guarantee, where they pay any IRS or state penalty (or interest) related to any errors they made. |
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|H&R Block||H&R Block’s offers an in-person and online do-it-yourself tax preparation service with well designed filing software and over 12,000 retail offices to provide back-up options and audit support. It’s a large national brand and if you like the ability to get a high level of support (online and in person) then block is a good option. |
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|TaxAct||Provider of affordable digital tax preparation solutions for individuals, business owners and tax professionals. The software has been designed by in-house programmers and tax accountants. Probably one of the best value D-I-Y online tax filing options out there. |
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|eFile||Basic and no-frill tax filing software for a fraction of the cost of the larger providers. If your return is simple and you just want a straightforward electronic filing option then this is the tax filing package for you. |
File for free with eFile
|Tax Slayer||Another one of the low frill providers out there for those looking for an inexpensive tax software option a sleek and mobile friendly user interface. They also provide maximum refund guarantees. Like other providers you get one free state filing with your federal return and can up load a lot of your tax documents. Phone and email support is available, but no live chat. |
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Fastest Refund Payments?
The speed of your tax refund is directly correlated to how accurate your filing is. This is because the IRS checks what you submitted, against what they have in their systems.
So the tax filing software providers that enable the the most accurate filing, tend to also get you the fastest refund.
Note however that once your return is with the IRS, your tax provider has no control over IRS processing speeds, which has been slower than usual in recent years due to large backlogs and staffing shortage.
To get around this and show confidence with their filing many providers have been offering advance tax refund loans. While these are perfectly fine for simpler and predictable returns, be careful of using this for more complex returns.
Other key trends observed from my survey (and comments) and follow-up research around refund speed and size via leading tax software package providers include:
Electronic filing is definitely the fastest and least error prone option. TurboTax and H&R block are the biggest players out there so have invested a lot more in their software to use AI/ML (Artificial intelligence and Machine learning) to reduce the number of errors and reconcile filing amounts, which mean the IRS has fewer issues processing returns form these providers. So look for ones that have a 100% guarantee around filing.
The best providers have great (& mobile friendly) user interfaces (UIs) and process flows to guide the tax filer through their various deductions, credits and other tax considerations. It also allows them to electronically upload documents or connect to their key financial intuitions for getting the most accurate tax information (manual entry is a sure fire way for mistakes!)
Given all the advance and expanded credits like Recovery Rebates (stimulus checks) and Advance CTC, filing for these the right way can definitely ensure your return is not held up beyond the standard IRS refund processing time.
This is where some up and coming providers like Tax Act and Tax Slayer are providing good no-frill platforms, but do have a ways to go to catch-up with the big boys. However in recent tax seasons, seeing a lot of younger tax filers go with them because of their lower cost and mobile friendly user interfaces.
Having a provider that can provide telephone, live chat or in-person support (at an office) can also help expedite returns when you do run into issue and get notices from the IRS to provide more information.
Many times the tax software provider can clarify this ask for you, allowing you to respond in a more prompt manner and reducing any potential refund delays.
Smaller and budget players like eFile & Liberty can do all the tax filing and processing the bigger providers can. Which is great for those with simple tax returns (single filers, W2 income and some investments), but when you get more complex or have a history of issues with the IRS, then you may find your return delayed and much smaller than expected than with the larger providers.
Feel free to leave a comment with your experience.