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Picking the perfect tax software

IRS electronic tax filing

Even with a new, shorter Form 1040 in use for filing our 2018 returns, the Internal Revenue Service estimates that it will take, on average, a taxpayer 11 hours to file taxes.

This time frame includes ancillary tasks like sorting through tax records, planning tax moves and filling out and submitting a complete return.

Those hours also take into account dealing with all the associated forms and schedules, of which there are six new ones that now apply to just the revamped 1040, you'll have to deal with to meet your annual tax-filing responsibility.

It's no wonder so many of us use tax software to do our taxes. Without that electronic help, we could be measuring our tax filing tasks by the calendar instead of the clock!

7 tax software reviews: If you're among the growing number of taxpayers turning to software — there were almost 55.2 million of us (yes, I use it, too) last year and so far this year the pace of self-prepared e-filed returns is fractionally ahead of 2018 numbers — you'll likely use the same system you logged into last year.

However, if you're doing your taxes using a tax preparation product for the first time or have decided to give a competitor package a shot, this week's Saturday Shout Out is for you.

Kiplinger senior editor Sandra Block and writer Rivan Stinson have evaluated seven popular tax software programs. Their analyses of Intuit's TurboTax, H&R Block, Credit Karma Tax, TaxSlayer, TaxAct, Efile and FreeTaxUSA sum up each product's strengths and situations where they might come up a bit short.

As Block and Stinson note in their introduction:

"Most of the tax software programs we tested alerted us to money-saving tax breaks. They also did an admirable job of asking questions that were relevant to our situations, without bogging us down with questions about, say, farm income. But some provide a lot more hand-holding than others, and prices were all over the map, ranging from free to more than $100 to prepare and e-file a state and federal tax return. Even a taxpayer with a fairly straightforward return could be forced to upgrade to a more expensive program if she has a modest amount of investment income or a health savings account."

Check out the reviews. They could help you find an easy and cost-saving solution to completing your 2018 tax return.

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