Early tax filers are always chomping at the bit to start getting their tax returns.Why? Because if you’re getting a refund, why wait any longer than you must to file your return. Seriously – don’t let the government hold onto your money any longer than they already have.But the trouble is two-fold. One, we don’t know when you can file your return yet. It’s always a guessing game when the IRS will start accepting tax e-File tax returns (usually it’s the last week of January), but you can legally mail in your return starting on January 1. You can see our Tax Refund Calendar here. Second, with all the changes that happen late in the year (Congress is passing tax laws all the way up to Christmas), many software companies are really late to getting their tax software updated for 2019-2020 tax season. As a result, there are only two companies to compare this year – TurboTax and H&R Block.Today I wanted to look at what is available for early filers – those that want to start right now and be ready to submit on January 1 if they could. Who’s software is the best? Who’s is the cheapest? What’s happened in the past that could make a difference this year? Let’s break it down.
Before I dive into the comparisons of the best early filer tax return software, a few things to remember when it comes to your early tax return.First, the software issues. Many of the smaller, more reasonably priced options, aren’t able to get their tax software live until January. As such, there are only two real options for early filers right now. Even with both TurboTax and H&R Block, both are still missing support for many states. Speaking to some of the companies, they are hoping to be live around January 15. Second, Congress passed a law last year that requires the IRS to HOLD all tax refunds that include the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until February 15, 2020, regardless of how early the tax return was filed. So, if you file on the first day, you might still be waiting until February 15 for your refund.The IRS released a note last year that people held up by this delay shouldn’t expect their refunds until the week of February 25, assuming there are no other problems with the tax returns. You can read this press release here.The goal of this is to cut down on fraud and give the IRS time to ensure no duplicate returns are filed. The trouble is, the IRS will hold your entire tax refund, not just the EITC or ACTC part.Basically, if you have the EITC or ACTC, you might as well wait to file, as you’re going to wait anyway.Finally, maybe you’re an individual seeking a tax refund loan. If so, check out our guide to tax refund loans so you can see what your options are.When it comes to filing your taxes online, there are two major competitors this year: TurboTax and H&R Block. However, there are many more “small guys” out there. I’m going to try to review as many as possible, but for early filers, these are the only two who have their software updated in January.You can read our full list of the best tax software here. To compare the software for early filers, I looked at the following:
If you’re an early filer, the software that worked the best and had the best pricing was . Here’s why:H&R Block is our choice for early filers because everything works with their software, and it has the best pricing for the free tier this year. If you qualify for some deductions and credits, you might still be able to file free on H&R Block, where you’d have to upgrade to Deluxe with TurboTax.TurboTax is by far the easiest to use, but H&R Block isn’t far behind, and not enough of a difference to change our opinion of it.If you’re looking for an early tax refund anticipation loan, check out H&R Block as well. While we didn’t compare them here, they are the one of the only companies offering loans by filing your return online. They should have their software online very soon!Which tax filing program did you use last year and why? Are you planning to use the same this year?