If you’ve been looking for tax software in the Mac App Store you’re out of luck because there isn’t any but we’ve looked at the very best tax software for Mac to help maximize your refund in 2021.
The US tax filing deadline for 2021 is Monday 17th of May so time is now limited to get those returns in.
Tax software makes things a lot easier than trying to file taxes on your own whether its personal tax returns or small businesses that need S-Corp filing on Mac.
In these tax filing software reviews, we’ve looked at a combination of income tax software and business tax software for Mac users that need to file corporate accounts in 2021.
Note that all the programs featured here are for filing taxes in the USA and Canada only and all are compatible with the latest versions of macOS including Catalina and Big Sur.
The important thing to be aware of from the start is that there are very few US tax filing desktop apps for Mac anymore and even many Windows tax apps are being phased out.
The exception is H&R Block which still offers an offline Mac desktop app that works on macOS 10.13 High Sierra and above.
Despite this, we still ranked the best tax preparation software for Mac is the free version of TurboTax which works in any browser on a Mac.
Mac Tax Software: What You Need To Know
The three most important aspects to any tax software are that it does things accurately, simply and maximizes your return.
A bonus is that it does all this for free although you’ll find almost every tax filing solution only offer this for State and Federal returns.
The sort of information you’ll need on hand to enter into tax software are typically:
- W-2 Income
- College Tuition Expenses
- Interest and Dividend Income
- Mortgage Interest
- Other Income and Expenses
Important documents and information to make sure you have include:
- W-2 and 1099: One handy feature of TurboTax is that it allows you to take a photo of these documents and import them into the software.
- Student loan interest form including tuition fees (1098-E)
- Mortgage and Property interest (Form 1098)
- Contributions to IRAs or retirement funds
- Any medical bills greater than 10% of your income
- Receipts for business expenses and other deductibles
- Charitable donation receipts
If you’ve got these handy, it will make life easier whichever solution you choose so that you don’t end-up wondering if there’s something missing or if you’ve forgotten something.
Which Credits, Refunds And Deductions Are Supported?
If you’ve made a big purchase (such as a hybrid or electric car) and are expecting a nice big refund for it, double-check that the tax software supports those kind of returns.
Tax software vendors usually keep software updated annually regarding tax laws and what’s refundable or not but they’re not always bang on the ball so check with the developer first if you’ve made a major purchase.
Important credits and deductions worth looking at in any tax software include:
- Charity Donations
- Itemized Deductions
- Business Owner Deductions
- Depreciation Summaries
- Rental Property Deductions
Finally, it’s also worth checking what payment methods the tax software accepts tax refunds such as check, bank transfer, prepaid debit card, credit card, savings bonds etc as some only support specific refund types.
Accuracy And Audit Protection Guarantees
Check whether the software offers any guarantees regarding accuracy and audit protection.
Both TurboTax and HR Block offer guarantees for both which gives you some support or financial compensation if you’re informed by by the IRS that there’s a problem with your return.
Along with deduction maximization and general support, this is one of the major differences between paid and free tax software.
For instance, TurboTax’s Audit Defense feature means that in the case of an audit, an Intuit tax professional will take care of administrating an audit so that you can concentrate on other things.
TurboTax also offers an accuracy guarantee that in case of any inaccuracies, it will pay any of your IRS penalties.
Note however that no tax software can provide guarantees that you won’t be audited – they simply provide comprehensive backup and mediation if you are.
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With all this in mind then, here are the best tax preparation software for Mac of 2021 in order of ranking.
All you have to do is import your W-2, answer a few simple questions and TurboTax will automatically calculate the maximum refund you can get.
TurboTax is a very easy to use and comprehensive tax software with 350 tax deductions which double checks your tax returns and guarantees 100% accuracy in calculations.
TurboTax Versions Compared
There are four different versions of TurboTax: Federal Free, Deluxe, Premier and Self Employed.
Recently TurboTax also introduced TurboTaxLive.
This gives you the option of having a real CPA and EA review your tax return but this generally adds an extra $20 onto the cost of each package.
Here we take a closer look at the different versions of TurboTax.
You can file for free with TurboTax if all you need is to make simple 1040EZ/1040A tax returns. This version allows you to prepare and e-file both federal and state taxes.
If you earn under $100,000 a year and don’t own a home, this is the edition you’ll need.
Although federal filing is free, some states require a fee for filing.
To get TurboTax Federal for free, you must simply subtract the fee from your federal tax refund and have the balance of your refund deposited directly to your bank account – you don’t need a credit card either.
Note that there used to be a free TurboTax Free Edition desktop app from the Mac App Store but this is no longer available.
The Deluxe Edition of TurboTax is the most popular version and includes all the features in the Federal Free Edition with the inclusion of access to basic deduction identification tools and improved support.
Deluxe claims to maximize your tax deductions by identifying more areas where there are industry or occupation specific deduction opportunities.
There are also enhanced tools for things like inheritances, donations and audit risk protection.
However in 2016 Intuit removed Schedule C and D tax returns from the Deluxe Version and packaged it into the Self Employed Edition (then called “Home & Business Edition”).
This means that the Deluxe version is no longer suitable as an LLC tax software anymore.
TurboTax Premier Edition gives you full access to all features of the software with deduction assistance that includes support for rental properties and other business-specific tax deductions.
It also has advanced calculators and additional investment resources for those with stocks, shares, funds and other assets.
This is now the most expensive version of TurboTax and essential for small business owners and professional tax software for Schedule B and C tax returns which used to be part of the lower priced Deluxe version.
Although these features used to be part of TurboTax Deluxe, the Self Employed edition is a lot cheaper than hiring an accountant and if your returns are fairly straightforward, it’s still worth the investment if you’re going to use it regularly.
The TurboTax Self Employed Edition can also calculate schedule C with depreciation schedule and 1040.
While TurboTax is generally very easy to use and holds your hand closely during the process of entering your data, TurboTax can be very fussy sometimes about entering data.
For example, even entering something as simple as a social security number requires endless steps walk-throughs which can make the process very frustrating.
In general though, the layout and format of TurboTax is well done and there are easy to follow deduction tools.
TurboTax makes it very clear how to fill in your returns and there are some nifty little features such as “W-2 Snap & Autofill” which allows you to take a picture of your W2 on your Mac or iOS device and upload it.
There’s also a feature called “SmartLook” which automatically connects you to one of Intuit’s tax specialists if you have a tax doubt or question.
This is bolstered with an “ExplainWhy” feature which helps explain certain fields and requirements in your tax return.
For personal income tax returns, TurboTax has an easy to use and comprehensive Federal Free Edition that includes 1040EZ, 1040A, and 1040 forms including live chat support.
Since there are so many users of TurboTax on both Mac and Windows, the TurboTax AnswerXchange Site is very extensive with a thriving user base.
Chances are, if you encounter a problem with TurboTax, someone else has probably had the same problem and the answer will be in AnswerXchange
There are other useful features of TurboTax to give you peace of mind too.
Accuracy Protection means that if TurboTax calculates your taxes incorrectly, Intuit will pay any fees or money owed to the IRS.
It also offers three levels of audit protection – Audit Risk Meter, Audit Support Guarantee and Audit Defense. The Risk Meter appears while you are filling out forms to show you if there are any potential problems with your form.
The Audit Support Guarantee provides guidance from a tax professional if the IRS contacts you and finally Audit Defense is an optional service that provides full audit representation by a licensed tax professional (although unlike with H&R Block, this comes at an extra cost to the software itself). A
Audit Defense means that Intuit provides full tax specialist and legal support if you are audited as a result of a tax return completed with TurboTax.
There’s also something called MAX which is an enhancement to Audit Defense and includes things such as Tax Identity Restoration and quicker response times from Intuit.
TurboTax is still the most widely used tax software out there although it has lost ground in recent years to H&R Block, partly due to its pricing policy and removal of features from cheaper versions and putting them in more expensive versions.
TurboTax also requires you to pay more for features that come with the price of the software in H&R Block such as Audit Defense and MAX.
The negative press surrounding incidences of TurboTax fraud in 2015 has no doubt also damaged confidence in the product although in an effort to reassure customers, TurboTax has focused on significantly improving security.
Overall though, TurboTax is easier than ever to use and if you don’t need the peace of mind of being able to speak to someone face to face about your tax filings, TurboTax is still a good choice.
Note that if you’re based in Canada, you need to use the Canadian version of TurboTax.
TaxAct is easily the most popular alternative to the big two names in tax filing – TurboTax and H&R Block. It doesn’t have a Mac app but it offers an excellent online tool that works perfectly well on macOS.
TaxAct definitely has a look and feel that’s clearly inspired by TurboTax and H&R Block but its slighter cheaper for most versions.
TaxAct is also the only tax filing service that allows Mac users to file S-Corp taxes online via the TaxAct Online Business 1120S service although this costs $109.95.
On Windows TaxAct S-Corp filing is also available as a desktop app but Mac users can only use the online version.
The pricing model for TaxAct is slightly simpler than its two nearest rivals too.
We also like the fact that you get free phone support thrown in with TaxAct which most tax prep software charge for so if you have a problem, you can talk directly to a TaxAct representative.
There are 4 versions of TaxAct – Free, Deluxe+, Premier+ and Self Employed+.
Like many tax filing services though, TaxAct can be persistent on the upsell encouraging you to upgrade from the free version and even lock-in prices for next years’ tax returns.
Lock-in means that you can pay a set price today for doing next year’s returns and you won’t be hit by any price increases in the software come next tax filing season.
TaxAct also provides a very useful summary of deductions and is very good at identifying deductions to maximize your refunds.
On the surface it looks like a pretty good deal with the same features as H&R Block and TurboTax although things don’t always work as well as they should.
For instance, TaxAct claims that the Deluxe+ versions can import investments, 1099s forms, Schedule K-1s and PDFs but this can be very hit and miss.
The number of financial institutions you can import from is also quite limited with even major banks such as Morgan Stanley not supported.
In summary, TaxAct offers a fast, efficient and value for money tax filing service and is great for Mac users looking for personal tax filing or S-Corp filing software.
TaxSlayer is an easy to use, no nonsense tax filing software that offers some of the most competitive prices on the market.
TaxSlayer promises to maximize your return and has a simple pricing model depending on your needs. If you’re just filing a simple tax return, TaxSlayer is completely free including for both federal and state taxes or Form 1040 EZ.
TaxSlayer has an extremely clean and easy to use interface which doesn’t feel bloated or overwhelming like a lot of tax filing apps do.
TaxSlayer also has a simple pricing structure that’s easy to understand. TaxSlayer Simply Free for anyone filing a form 1040EZ; Classic for all major Federal forms and fast W-2 imports; Premium for VIP Support and tax help and Self Employed for Contractors, Freelancers and 1099s.
Note that the Classic version of TaxSlayer doesn’t deduct simple things such as charity donations, rental properties, sale of home etc although the Premium version can deduct some of these. It also has a special version for military personnel tax returns.
If you want a quick and easy way to file taxes on your Mac, TaxSlayer is about as cheap and easy as it gets.
If you’re in the US military you can file for free with TaxSlayer no matter what your tax situation with no restrictions.
You can start filing for free with TaxSlayer straight away and to ensure the security of your logins, it will verify your account via SMS to your mobile.
Along with TurboTax, H&R Block or “Block” as it’s more commonly known, is probably the most widely used tax software out there.
The most unique feature of H&R Block is that it has over 12,000 physical offices around the US where you can actually talk face-to-face with a tax specialist if you’re having problems.
Anyone that has spent hours on the phone to for any kind of software support will vouch for how much stress and hassle this can potentially save.
However, this will obviously now be complicated by the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak so bear in mind that you may not be able to see an H&R Block specialist in your area at the moment.
HR Block is therefore ideal for small business owners that may have slightly more complex tax returns, especially because you can see someone face-to-face to have a look over your finances in one of their offices.
Note that the amount granted is simply a loan based on the size of your refund that H&R Block calculates.
The most basic version of HR Block costs still contains all IRS forms unlike TurboTax that has now removed many tax forms from its equivalent basic version.
You can file Federal taxes for free however with H&R Block online Free Edition which provides everything, including free tax advice at no extra cost like all H&R Block products. Another useful feature is that if you’ve already got data stored in TurboTax, you can import it into HR Block.
It’s important to distinguish that H&R Block offers both online and desktop tax software with slightly different naming and pricing for both.
There are 4 versions of the H&R Block desktop version available – Basic, Deluxe, Premium and Premium & Business.
All of these are available either as an online version (which is slightly cheaper and have slightly different names e.g. “Basic” is called “Free Online”) or as a desktop download.
All versions advise you where can make deductions to help maximize your refund and offer tax advice over the phone from a professional.
The differences between each one follow a similar model to TurboTax but with slight differences.
The Free version is for those with simple tax returns. It can import your W2, 1099 and previous year’s tax return from TurboTax. It will also do Schedule A itemized deductions and includes Refund Reveal – a useful tool which explains and shows exactly how much you can expect to get back.
The Deluxe version is necessary for homeowners and investors to complete e-filing. It includes all the features of Basic plus guidance on home and mortgage interests and help with investments and dividends.
The Premium version includes all of the Deluxe but also supports all Schedule C returns for small business owners and schedule E returns for rental property income.
The Premium is the complete business tax preparation software for small business owners but also includes corporate, partnership and LLC returns. It can also generate payroll and employer forms. However, Premium & Business is not available for Mac – it’s Windows only.
This HR Block comparison table perhaps gives a more detailed overview of the precise difference between each version:
The H&R Block range of products is clearly very similar to TurboTax. There are however some advantages of H&R Block vs TurboTax that apply to all versions:
- Refund Guarantee: If you’re able to get a higher refund with another tax software, H&R Block will refund you the difference
- 100% Accuracy Guarantee: H&R Block will refund you for any penalties imposed by the IRS as a result of inaccuracies
- Audit Protection: H&R Block will take care of administration of any audits caused as a result of filing with it’s software. Note that this is not a protection against being audited by the IRS.
- Secure Connections: H&R Block uses several layers of security protection when it comes to filing online.
- W2 Finder: Like TurboTax, you can also file online using your iOS device such as iPhone or iPad and take pictures of W2 forms. H&R Block however can even look-up your W2 form for you.
In terms of price, the Mac desktop versions of H&R Block are marginally cheaper than TurboTax although the respective versions aren’t exactly the same.
Note that H&R Block desktop works on macOS 10.13 High Sierra or higher which includes Big Sur.
H&R Block Summary
H&R Block has gained much ground on TurboTax in recent years. The differences between TurboTax and H&R Block are increasingly minor but H&R Block offers the big bonus of face-to-face customer support in a physical office at no extra cost.
It also promises to refund you in case of any mistakes that can be proved were caused by the software and H&R Block will even handle any audits requested by the IRS as a result of using the software.
TurboTax has slightly more attractive form wizards and interface touches but H&R Block still looks good and does the job very efficiently indeed.
You can start filing for free with H&R Block here.
Credit Karma now offers tax filing after it bought OnePriceTaxes back in 2016.
Credit Karma Tax is completely free and a surprisingly good, albeit basic alternative to TurboTax and H&R Block.
Credit Karma Tax supports IRS forms and schedules including Schedule C.
OnePriceTaxes takes around 30 minutes to file all your taxes. You can complete simple or complex returns and include your state return too.
Credit Karma Tax is refreshing because there are no confusing add-ons or hidden fees and it clearly allows you to see what your tax refund will be before choosing whether you want to file Federal and State taxes online.
After signing-up for a free account, you can start entering your personal information and tax data.
Credit Karma tax is incredibly easy to fill in. Since there are none of the fancy features or setup wizards found in TurboTax and H&R Block, it’s very straightforward to fill in and use.
Once you’ve entered essential information such as your name, address and social security number, you simply have to fill in information about any dependents you have, review your return with the estimated refund and then file online.
Credit Karma Tax includes most return forms including small business Schedule C, Rental Property Schedule E and various 1099 forms.
However, W-2 imports are limited and you can’t import interest or investment data.
Credit Karma does allow you to enter deductions but unlike TurboTax and H&R Block, it won’t help you maximize your returns or identify areas where you could be deducting more.
There’s also very little support if anything goes wrong unlike with the big tax filing platforms.
If you’re not worried about maximizing your returns and know what you’re doing when it comes to deductions and which forms you need, Credit Karma Tax is a refreshingly free and easy tax software that anyone can use.
Business Tax Software & S-Corp Taxes On Mac
Unfortunately there is no desktop software that supports small business and S-Corp tax filing on Mac.
The desktop business editions of H&R Block and TurboTax do support S-Corp filing but they are only available for Windows.
The only option for Mac users is the TaxAct Online Business 1120S Service which allows you to file S-Corp taxes online from any platform but it costs $109.95.
We hope this guide to software on macOS has helped but if you have any questions, problems or suggestions regarding the software featured here, let us know in the comments below.