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.
We tested Express Tax Refund with two tax scenarios to see how accurate of a return it could create and how easy it was to create that return. This online tax software was able to create an accurate return down to within a few dollars. However, we had the advantage of knowing exactly which credits and deductions we could claim and what income we had to report. If you did not have that knowledge, as many taxpayers do not, this service is not the best for helping you discover what you can claim. It does not have a life-events questionnaire to determine what you can claim, and even if you know what you can claim, it charges extra for everything. If you have a child care credit to report, it costs an extra $10; moving expenses, another $10; electronic filing, another $20.
Our 1040 with deductions test return, which we considered an average scenario, ended up costing $79.95 using Express Tax Refund plus $20 to e-file and another $20 for a state return – for a total of $122.95. This is much more than other online tax services. Express charges $10 extra for common things such as itemized deductions, earned income credit and self-employment tax. It also charges $32.95 for bank refund processing. If you wanted the fee to be taken out of your return, the total would be $159.95 plus a $32.95 bank fee. Even our top-ranked tax services charges much less than this for a more comprehensive product.
If you use this service, it is best if you know beforehand what you can claim, since it doesn't have a life-events survey – a section that asks simple questions such as, "Did you change jobs last year?" "Did you move?" "Do you own a home?" Your answers would then help the software determine the credits and deductions you can claim. Its lack is a disappointment. If you have a complex tax situation, you may want to use a service with more error checkers and more embedded support topics.
Express Tax Refund offers free telephone support. When we clicked the Contact Us link, we found the IRS Refund Status Hotline and the Express Tax Refund customer services phone numbers and a mailing address. We expected to find an email address, but we did not see one. Though we appreciate that they offer free telephone support, we would like to see more options such as an email address or chat options, as well as posted support hours. We also question their rating of having a “Perfect 5 Star Rating, 11 years in a row,” when they offer no reference as to who granted them that award and it has been up for over two years.
Online they post a few FAQs but that is about it. The link for the Help Center is called “FAQs, Tax Guides & Tax Tools," but we only found a few FAQs. We tried the Help Center when logged into our account to see if it offered additional information, but it did not. We also found little explanation or guidance in the software itself.
Though Express Tax Refund can create an accurate basic return, they charge more for common add-ons and do not provide enough tax education to help filers know what they can claim. They have not improved much on the past several years or added a noticeable amount of new information to their website. If you need to file a simple return you can do it for free using our top tax services, and if you have a more complex return with itemized deductions, our higher ranked products will help you create the most accurate return as possible.
This tax preparation service was able to create an accurate claim for our test returns, and it provides free telephone support.
Express Tax Refund provides little tax education and assistance. It also lacks extensive error checkers or alerts for incorrect information.
Even if you only have a simple 1040 or 1040EZ return to file this company charges more than other services. Our higher-ranked services are easier to use and have better pricing.