choose an online tax serviceTax season is officially underway, and since tax identity theft continues to be a growing problem, some might be eager to file sooner rather than later. For those who opt to e-file, it can sometimes be a challenge to find the right service to use. While many online tax preparation services have similar features, each service offers different pricing, filing options and add-on features. Continue reading as we describe how you can choose an online tax service that best fits your needs.

Consider the forms you’ll be filing

Online tax services often divide their offerings into packages that serve users based on the type of documentation they will need to file their returns. For example, taxpayers with simple returns who make less than $64,000/year, according to the IRS, qualify to file a 1040EZ federal tax form for free, while those with more income and complicated tax returns do not qualify for free federal filing. When planning to e-file, your very first consideration should be deciding which tax form (1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) you’ll need to submit. You may not know which form is best for you, so if you need some help deciding, you may want to test out an online tax service, as a lot of these services allow you to begin filing your return without paying. By doing so, you can not only get a feel for the program, but also find out which forms you should file, as these services automatically tell you which forms you’ll need. Once you know the appropriate forms, you can either choose to stick with that service, or shop around to confirm you’re using the best online tax service for your needs.

Look into basic features

Filing your taxes requires a lot of paperwork, especially if your return is more complicated. While you can input all of this information into your selected online tax service yourself, a number of tax services, including all the services we review, allow you to easily import these tax forms into your return, which makes things convenient and offers less opportunity for errors.

Think about support and add-on features

Each tax preparation service offers a somewhat different level of support. While most have phone, email or online chat, not all provide all three support options as well as additional features like extensive audit support or the ability to speak to a tax professional in-person, at a physical location to every user. Even if you end up not needing tax help or audit support this season, simply knowing you have more options at your disposal is empowering. Keep in mind that services with extensive support, more add-on features or access to in-person certified tax professionals tend to cost more, but it may be worth the cost if you expect to utilize these features.

Determine if the price is right

Even if your preferred tax service offers all the features and add-ons you’re looking for, if the price isn’t right, you’ll probably find yourself unsatisfied after you file. That’s why it’s important to not just settle for the first service you come across and, instead, shop around for a service that you feel you’ll be happy with. Our guide to picking the right online tax service may be helpful if you want to know which services offer the best value, are the most user friendly, offer the best support and much more. You may also want to check out our online tax preparation service reviews if you want to compare all the top names in e-filing to determine which is best for you.