Editor's Note: Online e-filing services often change what features and prices they offer throughout the tax season. We will update the Online Tax Software reviews as needed throughout the 2014 tax season as new versions are released.
eSmart Tax is Liberty Tax's online tax software. Liberty Tax has more than 4,000 offices in North America, and likely many of us become aware that it is tax season again when we see Liberty Tax's Statue of Liberty mascots demonstrating their human-billboard abilities on busy street corners. In fact, there are six franchises within 10 miles of our corporate offices – they are everywhere. Liberty Tax has many years of experience in tax preparation; in fact, the company's CEO and founder, John Hewitt, helped found Jackson-Hewitt and worked with H&R Block.
eSmart's state returns are $9.95. Basic 1040s are free Deluxe 1040s are $9.95, and premium 1040 returns with business income and expenses are $29.95. Deluxe filing status, by eSmart's definition, is for those who have dependents or itemized deductions. The free version says it can manage simple things like earned income credit. We contacted eSmart via chat support and the representative would not answer our questions without our account information including the answer to our security question, which we found quite frustrating. So, keep in mind that if you must contact their support you will need to have an account and your information ready to provide before you will receive assistance.
When we tested eSmart, it was able to create accurate 1040 returns with itemized deductions. The online tax preparation software can import your 2012 return information from TurboTax, TaxACT and H&R Block, as well as 2012 returns prepared on eSmart. It can also import your W-2 and 1099 forms to speed up return creation and eliminate entry errors. Although it does not include a life-events interview per se, it does have a guided interview format and can help you discover common credits and deductions easily. It also has a handy feature called Add Reminder that will let you flag an uncompleted section to remind yourself to come back to it later.
This year, eSmart has free chat support and free, unlimited tax help to Deluxe and Premium filers. Basic filers can access support for only $9.95 per topic. You can also ask questions by email, Twitter or Facebook. We asked eSmart a question via Twitter and got a response within an hour. The service has a tax help section that covers basic tax information and. maintains a comprehensive blog in the Tax Lounge hosted on the Liberty Tax website. The blog covers a wide variety of topics from new tax laws, tax ideas for families and tax commentary.
eSmart is a good addition to Liberty Tax's already popular nationwide tax service. And, like most tax services, it is usually more affordable to file online than in a franchise office. So next time you see Miss Liberty spinning signs in your hometown, check out the company's online version; it will save you money.
Liberty Tax’s online tax preparation service, eSmart, provides low-cost and free 1040 federal e-filing. eSmart also provides free chat support to all customers.
This service doesn’t provide telephone support. In addition, you have to submit your account information to use the chat support, which makes it impossible to submit pre-purchase or general questions without creating an account first.
If you are comfortable with preparing your own returns, eSmart can provide you with low-cost e-filing options. However, if you need extensive assistance, you may want to consider a higher-ranked service.