In this TaxAct review, we’ll explain how the program works, explore what it offers, and determine which option may be a good fit for you. Enjoy!
Are you looking for ways to easily prepare and file your own tax returns? Look no further than TaxAct.
With TaxAct, individuals and couples can file their tax returns without having to take them to a tax professional. Like with many of the best tax software options, this program’s easy to use interface makes filing your taxes a breeze. It walks you through preparing both your Federal and State tax returns, making it simple for anybody who wants to do their own taxes.
Sound good? Let’s take a closer look at TaxAct’s top features and determine which version is best for you!
What is TaxAct?
TaxAct is an online tax preparation software that allows you to prepare and file your Federal and State income taxes. The company has been around since 1998, originally offered as desktop software. Since then, TaxAct has become one of the most popular tax programs on the market, available online and as a downloadable program.
From its free version all the way to the Premier+ version, TaxAct has helped millions of people file their own taxes. Using an interview-style process, this program takes the pain out of tax preparation. There is also an Online Self-Employed+ version specifically designed for freelancers, sole proprietors, and independent contractors.
TaxAct Online Products
TaxAct offers five online variations of their tax software. Costs and features vary between each version. The right version for you will depend on your needs and the complexity of your tax situation.
All options are backed by TaxAct’s $100K Accuracy Guarantee and Maximum Refund Guarantee. With backing like that, you can prepare your own taxes, feeling confident that TaxAct has your back. Let’s take a closer look at each version.
TaxAct Online Free Edition
Like other popular tax prep companies, TaxAct offers a free version of their product. The free edition is meant for individuals and couples filing jointly, without dependents, that have simple Federal tax returns. Currently, filing simple State tax returns is free as well.
The Free Edition uses the same interview-style tax preparation as the paid versions. It also comes with TaxAct’s $100K Accuracy Guarantee and Maximum Refund Guarantee. Because it is a free version of the software, you can’t use it if you need to itemize or file any of the new Schedules 1-6. Thus, TaxAct Online Free Edition is best for people who only have standard deductions or the earned income tax credit.
TaxAct Online Basic+
The next option available through TaxAct is their Basic+ Edition. This version offers everything the free version does, but it also includes other features like:
- Credits and deductions for dependents
- Free access to TaxAct’s Answer Center and unlimited phone and email technical support from tax specialists
- Assistance with preparing tax forms for FAFSA
- Convenient import of last year’s tax return
Currently, TaxAct Online Basic+ costs $9.95 for Federal preparation and tax filing. There is an extra charge of $19.95 for State tax returns.
TaxAct Online Deluxe+
With TaxAct’s Deluxe+ Edition, you can start itemizing your deductions with a Schedule A. It also allows you to include additional income, adjustments, and credits with Schedules 1-6.
The Deluxe+ version includes everything from Basic+ plus the following:
- Access to Donation Assistant to help you calculate and track charitable donations
- More than 100 available forms and schedules
- Credits and deductions for child and dependent care expenses
- Education credits
Federal tax returns with TaxAct Online Deluxe+ currently cost $29.95. State tax returns cost $39.95.
TaxAct Online Premier+
TaxAct Premier+ comes as the most highly recommended version of the product. Not only does it offer the same great features as the other versions, it also includes options for more complex Federal tax returns.
Additionally, TaxAct Premier+ offers prioritized support with a dedicated phone line, screen share capabilities, and limited in-app chat support. You can also report rental property income (with a Schedule E) and stock and investments (with a Schedule D).
TaxAct Online 2018 Premier+ currently costs $34.95 for Federal tax returns. There is an additional $39.95 charge for State income tax return preparation and filing.
TaxAct Online Self-Employed+
Are you a freelancer or independent contractor? If so, you already know it’s not easy to run your own business. Thankfully, TaxAct has you covered with their Self-Employed+ Edition.
Self-Employed+ users enjoy the same $100K Accuracy Guarantee and Maximum Refund Guarantee that other versions offer. Other helpful features include:
- TaxAct’s Deduction Maximizer
- Year-round tax support and planning, not just during tax season, which allows you to stay on top of your quarterly taxes
- Easily report income, expenses, depreciation, and more
- Access to more tax forms and tax schedules
- Prioritized phone, email, and chat support
The Online Self-Employed+ Edition currently costs $49.95 for Federal tax returns. There is an extra charge of $39.95 for State tax return preparation and filing.
TaxAct Downloadable Programs
While TaxAct’s online versions offer convenient access to your tax return from anywhere and on any device, the company also offers downloadable software. Downloads are available for all versions of TaxAct except the Free Edition.
If you prefer this method of tax preparation, unfortunately, it will cost you significantly more than the online versions. Here’s how the pricing breaks down:
- Basic = $24.95
- Deluxe+ = $84.90
- Premier+ = $89.90
- Self-Employed+ = $104.90
TaxAct has several tools to help users handle different aspects of tax preparation.
Tax Refund Calculator – Estimate your federal tax return by inputting some information about your income, withholdings, deductions, and credits.
Tax Bracket Calculator – Find out what tax bracket you’re in.
Self-Employment Tax Calculator – If you are self-employed, find out if you have to pay any tax related to your business income.
Other available tools include a tax dictionary, loan calculator, health care tax credit calculator, and tax reform updates.
Their website also features a tax date calendar so users can keep track of important upcoming tax dates. All of their tools are designed to save users time and educate them on every detail of the tax preparation process.
TaxAct Express Mobile App
TaxAct also offers TaxAct Express, their mobile app. Available on iOS and Android, TaxAct Express allows you to fill out your tax return from anywhere. Features include:
- W-2 capture
- Works with all online products: Free, Basic+, Deluxe+, Premium+, and Self-Employed+
- Touch ID/Face ID support for quick and secure log-in experience
- Notifications and tracking of your tax returns
- Enhanced support with live chat
By using the mobile app, users can start the tax preparation process from anywhere. TaxAct’s software saves your progress so you can seamlessly switch between your mobile phone, tablet, and PC without losing information. This is perfect if you don’t have time to finish your tax return preparation all in one sitting.
Tax Refund Options
TaxAct allows users several ways to receive their tax refund. Regardless of how you choose to file, users always have the option to receive their refund via direct deposit to a bank account. This is typically the quickest way to receive your refund, although you can also receive a paper check through the mail.
Like other programs, this product allows you to apply your refund toward next year’s taxes. You can also buy U.S. Savings Bonds with your refund.
Additionally, the program offers two fairly unique ways to receive your refund. Users have the choice to put their refund on an American Express Serve prepaid debit card or apply it to TaxAct’s Refund Marketplace where you’ll have the option to load it onto various gift cards. If you choose to put your refund on a gift card through the marketplace, you can get up to a $100 bonus from TaxAct.
People who purchased a paid version of TaxAct may also pay the TaxAct fee out of their return. With that said, you’ll be charged an additional fee by TaxAct for choosing this option.
TaxAct, like other tax preparation software, offers guarantees related to your tax return.
The $100K Accuracy and Maximum Refund Guarantee comes with every TaxAct product. They guarantee their software is 100% accurate and will calculate your maximum refund or they will pay you the difference in the refund or liability (up to $100,000). They’ll also reimburse you for penalties, interest, and audit costs.
The company also offers solid Satisfaction Guarantee. If you are not 100% satisfied with the product you purchase, you can discontinue use before the billing process and not face any fees related to software use. Because the billing process comes near the end, you have time to use the software before deciding if it’s right for you. TaxAct won’t issue a refund, however, if you have already printed or e-filed your tax return.
As with any guarantee, it is important to read the fine print and understand their implications for your situation.
Where Does TaxAct Shine?
TaxAct has many features users will love. Its interview-style process makes it easy to fill out tax forms. It is compatible with all devices and allows you to import your W-2 by snapping a photo. You can also import last year’s tax returns from other programs to save time filling out your personal information.
Compared to other tax preparation software, TaxAct offers lower prices while still providing enough tools to help most people effectively complete and file their Federal and State tax returns.
Where Does TaxAct Fall Short?
Despite being a popular choice for tax preparation, TaxAct has some drawbacks.
TaxAct upgraded their design this year, but they are still behind other companies in terms of having a more user-friendly interface. TaxAct has support features for its users, but they pale in comparison to other programs like H&R Block and TurboTax.
The biggest complaint, however, is that the software isn’t as intuitive as it should be during the interview process. Because of that, users may have to answer the same question multiple times, or they are left answering questions that don’t apply to their situation.
Who Should Use TaxAct?
TaxAct is perfect for people who have done their own taxes before and don’t require as much support during the tax preparation process. Beginners and users with more complicated tax situations may be better off using other tax preparation software from competitors.
If you are confident in your tax preparation abilities and don’t care about the extra support and more robust tax tools, TaxAct is probably the right choice for you.
The Bottom Line: Is TaxAct Worth It?
Despite some of its shortcomings, TaxAct is a solid choice for DIY tax preparation this year. Beginners should steer clear, but if you’ve already prepared your own taxes in the past, this program is more than sufficient and could save you some money in the process.
In the end, users will have to weigh their support needs against costs to determine which program is the right choice for their tax return situation.
Have you used TaxAct to file your returns? Let us know what you think in the comments!