TurboTax is the most expensive of the two tax preparation software packages, but it is the most capable and extensive of the two. It has a list of added features and questions it uses to reduce the user's tax liability. The preparation time is about 45 minutes to one hour for a basic return. It is free to file your federal 1040-EZ return if you earned an Adjusted Gross Income in 2010 of $31,000 or less, or $58,000 or less if you are active military or qualify for the Earned Income Credit -- there is a cost of $27.95 (per state) to file your state tax return.
TaxSlayer is based on simplicity and is for a user who has a basic return to file. It does not offer extra features or perform the checks that the more expensive TurboTax does, but it will get the user's return ready to file within 20 to 25 minutes. It is free to file your federal 1040 EZ form if you meet certain requirements, but a state return costs $14.90 for your 2010 tax return.
The Breakdown in Cost
If you choose not to use the free version of the software that each site offers then there is a cost. For your 2010 tax filings, TurboTax packages range in cost from $29.95 to $129.95 for business filers. TaxSlayer has two software packages: $9.95 for the Classic edition, and $19.95 for the Premium edition. Note in all cases, there is an additional charge to file your state income taxes.
Both TurboTax and TaxSlayer offer online support to its customers. Both sites have an extensive Q & A section on common tax questions and topics. Both sites can also be reached during tax season via online support tools or telephone should your tax questions not be answered in the online database.
When deciding what tax preparation software is best for you, only you can determine your tax needs. If you have many deductions, need assistance and have forms that will need to be attached you might want to consider TurboTax. If you have a basic return and need minimal or no support, then TaxSlayer is probably best for you. The IRS provides 18 other tax support websites that offer free e-filing options for your federal tax return should you decide that TurboTax or TaxSlayer is not for your. Please see the link in the Resources section for additional website services. If you still are not sure, you can reach out to a tax professional.