Filling out your tax return can feel like a daunting task. After all, there’s a lot of paperwork to go through and you might not be sure of where everything should be reported. You want to make sure you’re following the guidelines, but also that you maximize things like deductions and any potential tax refunds.
If you don’t want to spring for an accountant, but you still need a little guidance, you can buy tax preparation software. Services like TaxAct help you through the process and can even help you file your taxes electronically so you get your refund faster.
In this review:
TaxAct offers a suite of tax software tools designed to help you prepare your taxes. It’s designed by tax accountants and computer programmers in a way that allows to fill in all your forms with relative ease. All the TaxAct return forms are approved by the IRS and state forms have approval as well.
In addition to providing needed tools and calculators to help you fill in your forms, you can also access enrolled agents and CPAs to help you if you run into trouble. TaxAct is known for its fairly low price; you won’t find a lot of fancy interfaces or tweaks to color schemes, but you will get what you need in a straightforward manner at a competitive rate. There is a TaxAct mobile app available in addition to the online tax services offered by the company.
- Can choose between 5 versions
- Costs vary between $0 and $69.95, depending on the package
- Call or email TaxAct’s customer service, which is open during the weekend during tax season
Pricing and Plans
If you decide to use TaxAct, you can choose from a variety of online versions depending on your needs and the specifics of your tax situation. One of the nice features offered by TaxAct tax software is the price lock-in. If you lock in your online price by selecting a version, you don’t have to worry about paying a higher price later.
Here are the TaxAct versions available to you. You can select different situations, and TaxAct will recommend the right version for you, whether you just need something basic or you’re self-employed and need a more comprehensive package.
If you meet the income requirements for IRS Free File or if you’re eligible to fill out the 1040EZ form, you can use TaxAct for free. Your PDF files from TurboTax and H&R Block can be imported if needed. Additionally, there is no charge for preparing your state tax forms.
You can get access to your prior years’ tax returns for seven years after the filing deadline, and you can easily claim your dependent expenses and college expenses. This the version for those who are taking “above the line” deductions rather than itemizing.
Basic+ costs $9.95 for your federal return and an additional $19.95 for each state return.
If you know you’ll be itemizing, or if you have other adjustments and credits to make, this version of TaxAct is probably right for you. In addition to help filling out your Schedule A, you’ll also get in-app email support from tax specialists, as well as phone technical support.
Deluxe+ costs $29.95 for your federal return and an additional $36.95 for a state return.
If you’re an investor, this version can help you report dividends, harvest tax losses, and more. It comes with support for the forms in previous versions as well.
One of the nice bonuses of the Premier+ version from TaxAct is the fact that you get their Expert Review feature. After you file, a tax expert will analyze your return, one-on-one, with you. They’ll even give you tips so you can plan your tax strategy for next year.
Premier+ costs $34.95 for your federal return and an additional $36.95 for a state return.
Are you your own boss? This self-employment version can help you identify and claim all the deductions you’re entitled to for tax filing. TaxAct has a tool designed for the self-employed. While working on your tax return, you can use in-app chat, screen-share services, and dedicated phone help. On top of that, when you lock in this version, you get year-round tax planning help for your business.
Self-Employed+ costs $49.95 for your federal return and an additional $36.95 for a state return.
Features and Customer Support
TaxAct is fairly straightforward with simple tools and calculators to help you fill in your forms. You answer questions as you go through your return and are directed to the correct line on the form. Customer support is fairly robust as well, especially if you have a more expensive package. However, no matter which version you get, you have access to email and phone support.
TaxAct is available on all devices and even includes the ability for you to snap a picture of your W-2 for import. You can import PDF files from other programs so that last year’s tax return can be used to help prepare this year’s. On top of that, if you get the Premier+ version, you can import your investment information.
You can switch between devices to work on your tax return from anywhere, at any time, with the online version.
TaxAct offers guarantees as to its accuracy, as well as a satisfaction guarantee and a maximum refund guarantee. If you find that TaxAct doesn’t live up to your expectations, you can file a claim.
Finally, if you’re audited, TaxAct doesn’t actually defend you or feature audit defense features like some other similar companies. Instead, you have the opportunity to enroll with Protection Plus when you file your return.
With Protection Plus, you get a comprehensive strategy for handling your return, including representation to the IRS so you don’t have to worry about sending the correspondence. You get help on the return for three years. However, you do have to purchase Protection Plus separately, starting at $44.95.
The Pros and Cons of TaxAct
TaxAct offers all the basics to take care of your federal tax needs and your state taxes. You can fill out forms and accomplish the task. Plus, the customer support for tax preparation, especially when you get the more expensive versions, is robust and helpful.
On top of that, this tax software comes with proprietary tools aimed at the self-employed. For the most part, you can accomplish what you need to with TaxAct in a user-friendly way—and do it at a lower price than you’ll see with a lot of other tax preparation options.
The downside is that TaxAct is somewhat limited in features. While you can access everything you need, someone who isn’t a veteran at tax preparation might struggle, even with the customer support and customer service available. You might not get access to advanced features, and rather than representing you to the IRS, TaxAct requires you to purchase a separate defense product to receive any kind of audit support.
If you’re looking for inexpensive tax software, TaxAct can be a good choice for tax season. When compared to some of the best tax software programs, TaxAct comes out pretty well.
With H&R Block, you need an upgrade to get access to the same level of technical email and phone support TaxAct offers with its packages. Additionally, at each level, TaxAct costs less than H&R Block, including for individual state returns. Plus, H&R Block charges you based on when you complete your return, not the price you lock in at the beginning. H&R Block has a few more robust tools, however, which can make it worth the price in some cases.
TurboTax is a similar story. However, TurboTax is even more expensive than H&R Block, charging nearly $200 if you get the self-employed/business version of the tax software. You need an upgrade to access the previous seven years of tax returns, a feature that TaxAct offers for all its versions, without the need for an upgrade. However, TurboTax is one of the most robust tax preparation software packages, offering tools, insights, and help that might not be available with other products.
In the end, TaxAct is great for people who are confident in their ability to complete a tax return with only a small amount of help. It costs a lot less and there is a free version, but also comes with fewer features and tools. You’ll need to weigh your level of needed help against the cost savings as you decide if TaxAct is right for you.