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Best Early Tax Filing Software 2022 (December And January Returns)



Every year, more than three out of four Americans qualify for a tax refund. With refund checks averaging $2,766, many taxpayers qualify for a windfall that they won’t get any other time this year. For those who are eager to get their money back, early filing makes a ton of sense. 

In 2022, early filing is going to be especially attractive for parents who didn’t receive their Advanced Child Tax Credit payments and those who didn’t receive their stimulus money in 2021.

Americans can legally start mailing in their tax returns on January 1, 2022, but e-filing officially opens on January 24, 2022. Despite the delay in e-filing, people hoping to get a jump on filing can start preparing their returns by late December. 

This year, TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxHawk, TaxAct, and TaxSlayer have released their new software versions. We’re comparing these top companies for anyone seeking early filing options.

If you want to prepare to submit your taxes the day the IRS opens e-filing, these are the software companies to consider. 

Are You Filing Your Taxes Too Early?

There are several things to consider when you start prepping your taxes early in the season. While early filing ensures you get a timely refund, there is such a thing as too early. These are a few reasons to wait before filing.

  • You haven’t received all your financial documents. Companies typically send out W-2 Forms and 1099-NEC forms in mid to late January. Filers must have these forms to complete tax returns. Many banks and brokerages won’t release financial statements until early February. While it’s great to get a jump on your taxes, you may need to hold off on filing until you have all the necessary information at once.
  • You haven’t made retirement contributions yet. Retirement contributions may entitle you to tax deductions or credits. In many cases, filers can make retirement contributions until April 15th, 2022.
  • You may make a mistake. It’s always possible to amend a tax return, but it’s not something you will want to do. It can lead to audits and potential tax penalties if your refund was overpaid. It’s far better to wait for all your information before you actually file.

Although filing too early is a mistake, all six companies listed above are allowing users to start entering information today. Get a jump in the software, but wait until you’re sure before filing.

Note: Another option to early filing is a tax refund anticipation loan or tax advance loan. You can see our full guide to tax refund anticipation loans here.

Great Reasons To File As Early As Possible

While filing too early is problematic, filing as early as possible makes sense in most situations. These are a few reasons to get a jump on filing.

  •  Get your refund faster. This year, many people will receive windfall amounts. This refund can be especially welcome after a year of underemployment or limited income.
  • Identify missing forms. When you start filing early, you can figure out whether you’re missing forms. Tracking these down is much easier when you have time on your side.
  • Reduce the risk of identity theft. Someone else may file their taxes using your social security number. You don’t want to be the victim of identity theft and filing your taxes early can prevent that.
  • Find out how much you owe. If you’re one of the legions of people who found themselves unexpectedly self-employed, you may be in for a rude surprise when you find you owe money this year. Filing earlier gives you time to scrape the money together to make a payment.
  • Avoid the stress of last-minute filing. Take it from a consistent last-minute filer, you don’t want to be like me. It’s stressful to have to take a day off work just to get filing complete. Do your taxes early, and you’ll have plenty of time to get it done.

You need complete information, but getting a jump on collecting and entering that information can help you file as early as possible.

What You Can Expect If You File Early

Many taxpayers find they have all the information they need to file their taxes by mid-January. If you’re an early filer, you can expect importing functions and other “bells and whistles” to be available by the time you have your forms in hand. Early filers can typically e-file their federal returns a few weeks after the start of the new year.

This year, the IRS opens eFile on January 24, 2022. So if you file in early January with your tax software company, your tax return will be among the very first sent to the IRS for processing when they allow it. Then you can watch our Tax Refund Calendar to see when you can expect your tax refund to arrive.

State filing, unfortunately, isn’t always as easy. Each company opens state filing at different times in the new year. The companies have to make updates for all 50 states. If you live in a state that had big tax law changes this year, you can expect delays for state filing.

In some cases, state filing options may open as early as mid-January, while others could be delayed until early March. Keep in mind that users have the option to e-file their federal returns before filing their state returns.

Comparing Tax Software For Early Filers

When it comes to early filing, all of the major competitors came to play this year. We’re comparing five software options to help taxpayers decide which software is best for them.

To compare the top tax software for early filers, we judged the following criteria:

  • Ease of use
  • How much of the software is available in mid-December
  • Pricing
  • Technical issues

Please note, these companies have frequent releases and updates. Many of the missing pieces are expected to be released before Christmas, but some may not be ready until mid-January.

It is worth noting that TurboTax offers a free virtual review for qualified “Free” filers who complete their returns before March 31st. Filers who don’t qualify for the free review will need to upgrade to receive a virtual review.

You can read our full list of the best tax software here.

Header

All income, credit and deduction sections worked, but states are still delayed.

Schedule C (Self-Employed income) doesn’t work yet. State filing will not be ready until late December. Importing not available until January.

All income, credit and deduction sections worked. State filing planners are ready, but software updates will continue through January.

All income, credit and deduction sections worked. State filing will not be available until the end of January

All income, credit and deduction sections worked. State returns are not currently available.

Do You Need To Sign Up To Try?

Free

$0
Deluxe

$39
Premier:

$69
Self Employed: $89

Free:

$0
Deluxe:

$29.99
Premium: $49.99
Self Employed: $84.99

Free:

$0
Deluxe:

$24.95
Premium: $34.95
Self Employed: $64.95

Free:

$0
Deluxe:

$6.99
Pro Support: $24.99

Free:

$0
Classic:

$24.95

Premier: 

$44.95

Self Employed:

$54.95

Free:

$0
Deluxe:

$39
Premier:

$39
Self Employed 

$39

Free:

$0
Deluxe:

$36.99
Premium: $36.99
Self Employed: $36.99

Free:

$0
Deluxe:

$44.95
Premium: $44.95
Self Employed: $44.95

Free:

$0
Classic:

$39.95

Premier: 

$39.95

Self Employed:

$39.95

Cell

You can read our full reviews here:

Top Choices For Early Filers

Early filers choose to start filing early for different reasons. We’ve ranked the top filing options based on features early filers are often seeking.

Best For Fast Refunds

TurboTax and TaxSlayer both have refund advance options for e-filers who use their software. Users who choose either product can have a proportion of their refund advanced to a prepaid debit card. In both cases, the loan is a 0% interest loan.

Easiest To Use

This year, TurboTax retains its title as the easiest software for early filers. The user interface helps users predict what will happen, and users can jump around in the software easily.

TurboTax makes filing taxes seamless from the point that users log in to the software, to the point where they see their results.

Best Low-Cost Option

TaxHawk offers excellent functionality for an extremely low price. Early filers, even those with complex filing situations can complete their federal filing for free.

State filing costs just $14.99 per state. TaxHawk is an excellent option for experienced filers who don’t want to upgrade just because they have daycare expenses or an HSA.

Best Value

H&R Block Premium and TaxSlayer Classic are both high-value picks.

H&R Block Premium is especially ideal for side-hustlers, landlords and people who dabble in stock trading. The software is incredibly easy to use, especially given the competitive pricing. Try H&R Block Premium >>

TaxSlayer Classic gives users access to every major tax form, so even complex filers can use it. The software is also easy to use, and full of great knowledge articles. TaxSlayer’s only real weakness is that it still doesn’t support W-2 or 1099 imports. Try TaxSlayer Classic >>

Final Thoughts

It’s important to remember that this guide is our earliest snapshot of tax season and what software is available. In fact, we’re not even going to be able to test some of them (like the highly anticipated CashApp Tax) until early January.

However, we also know that a good amount of Americans are looking to file their taxes as early as possible to claim their tax refunds. So, with that in mind, we wanted to make sure that these folks had the best information to make that decision.

If you’re looking for more in-depth looks at each of these options, check out our YouTube tax software reviews here.

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